Social Media

7 Simple Ways to Improve Your Live Video on Social Media

With many work positions moving online, and recent recognition that online can be much more efficient for so many things that we thought HAD to be in person, a lot of businesses, churches, and organizations are growing to realize the importance of connecting with their social media followers online.

While I would emphasize the importance of getting it done rather than getting it perfect (now is not the time for perfectionism – never is), is it true that increasing the quality of your video to a minimum standard does result in longer viewing time and more engagement (likes, comments, and shares).

Here are 7 ways to improve your next live video on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram or Twitter

Be in a quiet space

Man doing live video on phoneThis may seem obvious, but it’s increasingly difficult from home. Sometimes your co-workers (ie. kids and pets) can’t just move to another space or know how to keep it down while you’re making a live video from the kitchen table.

Trying to address your audience while the dog barks in the background or your kids ask you to put new batteries in their favorite toy siren is just plain distracting, making your viewers switch away or keep scrolling.

It’s not always possible to be in a silent space (if an ambulance drives by with sirens, there’s nothing you can do about that), but be intentional about going live during your kids nap time, while on a walk, in the evening after bedtime, or in your own space.

The less obvious distractions are fans, vents, or wind noise if you’re outside. As much as possible, get into a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed and you can focus on connecting with people watching your video.


Use a microphone

This doesn’t mean you have to jump on Amazon and wait a few weeks before your mic arrives. Using the headset that came in the box with your phone or Bluetooth headphones with a built-in mic can reduce the ambient noise around you and make your voice clearer.

Your goal is not to sound like a radio announcer but to bring clarity to your voice so viewers can understand what you’re saying without distraction.



No shame: I’ve gone live from the kitchen with a table lamp behind my laptop with the shade off. Don’t hurt your eyes stating into a 100-watt bulb (the squinting won’t translate well on video anyway) but be in a room with ambient light from the sun, open the curtains if the window is beside you or in front of you, and turn on ALL of the lights in the room as long as they’re not behind you.

Be sure light sources are in front of you, not behind you. Light sources behind you (like open windows or lamps) will cause your camera to adjust to the brightness from the window and turn you into a silhouette.

In these 2 shots below from the webcam built into my laptop, the only difference is that the patio door’s blinds are open on the left and closed on the right. The room lighting is the same in both cases.

On the left, the camera adjusts to the brightest point on the screen (the sun outside) and on the right, it adjusts to the brightest point (probably my forehead glare?)

Side note: I haven’t shaved for a few days… I’ll get that done once I’m done this blog post…


Ask for engagement

Every 4-5 minutes of your video, ask for engagement from your viewers. Engagement drives the organic reach of your post so more people will have a chance to see your video. Ask your viewers to like your post, or ask them a question so they can respond in the comments.

Good starter questions could be:

  • Leave a comment to let me know where you’re watching from today
  • I’m here enjoying my morning coffee. I take mine black. Leave a comment about how you like your coffee!
  • An A/B question that has 2 options: We’re talking about getting up early or staying up late. Are you a morning person or a night owl? Tell us in the comments.

Starter questions are purely meant to drive engagement. Don’t start out with something controversial or in-depth – just a simple question that’s easy to answer.

The longer the video, the more times you’ll want to ask for engagement. Some people will tune in late. Some people will watch later in the day, and some people will be happy to respond multiple times during your broadcast, so ask an engagement question at the beginning, and at the end, and every 4-5 minutes in the middle.

Middle engagement questions would be open-ended questions about your topic:

  • Do you have a question about our organization or service?
  • What would you like to see change with this topic moving forward?
  • How can we better serve you in this area?


Ending engagement questions could be about the next broadcast:

  • Next time we’re talking about that topic. What questions can we answer for you?


Respond to engagement as it’s happening

When someone responds to your question, read it out during the broadcast and respond back. Ask them a follow-up question. Answer a question they put in the comments about your topic. Create a conversation in your video with the comments rather than just a monologue.


Aim for longer than 10 minutes

In this article from VidYard, they notice that it takes at least 10 minutes for your online viewers to find out you’re doing a live video:

Don’t draw our a 60-second announcement to 10 minutes to hit this metric, but instead of 2 or 3 videos at 4 minutes each, for example, go longer on a single video with multiple topics.


Go live with someone else

For me, going live is about connection and conversation. Also, knowing that we want to hit a metric of 10 minutes in a best-case scenario, having a partner can really help the conversation feel more like a conversation, and less like a monologue for 10 minutes.

It’s also helpful if one person is ‘interviewing’ the other – asking questions, watching comments for more questions, and introducing the topic.

My personal favorite tool for this is Be.Live because there is no software to download so it’s always ready to go, you can ‘produce’ on the fly (meaning switching from shared screen to full-screen of you or your guest) and you can see comments in real-time and put them up on the screen like a lower third.

You can also add subtitles (like your website address) and now media to show during your broadcast.


Have an idea about going live on Social Media that didn’t make this list? Share it below so we can learn together:





Why Churches Resist Business Principles (and why that needs to change)

Profit: It’s often a ‘dirty’ word that often comes with the connotation of greed, so it’s not a surprise that the associations of businesses with profit and the associations of profit with greed lead many churches to be resistant to considering using principles proven in business with application in our church – although, it’s a little like saying everyone who wants to make a profit is greedy.

Greedy like that kid who shovels the snow from your driveway in the winter for $5 so she can buy her family Christmas presents or that restaurant owner who attends and tithes at your church who takes their leftovers to the homeless shelter at the end of the day, or the mechanic who is so successful that he employees 5 people in your town who all live well and provide for their families, or Paul who wrote a 1/3 of the New Testament was also a tent maker.

Of course, there are examples on the other end of the spectrum, where greed does drive profit (often accumulated dishonestly), but the interesting thing is that the business principles that work are what drive revenue into the business, it’s the business leadership that creates an economy of generosity or an economy of greed. (reminder: Money is not the root of evil. The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.)

Let’s not boil down business to being only about profit. Profit funds a cause. For some, the cause is more profit, while for others the profit is a means to drive a cause. Let’s not be lazy enough to lump it all together as greed.


What brought us to this resistance?

A little bit of church history in North America.

When Canada and US were settled, the church was the center of town. The steeple was often the tallest peak in the town and the “compass” so to speak if you were traveling from one town to another to be sure you’re heading in the right direction. A 50-foot pointed tower from across fields and dirt roads was a great way to know you’re heading the right direction.

Not only in a literal sense, but also in a figurative sense, churches were the compass of the community.

Businesses were closed on Sundays, everyone went to the church in their community and brought food to share for lunch in the basement or on the church lawn, and the best clothing was reserved for Sundays, and in short-hand, referred to as their “Sunday Best.”

The church was often the largest building in town for square footage, so in many cases, town hall meetings, birthday celebrations, weddings, judicial court and community theatre all took place in the church building. For many years, simply turning on the lights in the church was enough to draw a crowd.

Fast forward to today, and the only thing turning on your church lights will draw by default is electricity.


The mindset shift:

This mindset of the church is the center of the community, like many other mindsets, has been passed down through churches from generations, and these generations, while refusing to change their paradigm of “church” have changed their paradigm of nearly everything else.

Businesses are often open Sundays and evenings. Radio, then TV, then Internet became attention seekers in the home on evenings and weekends. The popularity of post-secondary education took more young adults away from small towns for a one-way trip into big cities, and ‘small-town America’ is a different cultural landscape.

Business has gone through a similar shift. Most towns used to have a family bakery, general store, gas station, tailor or seamstress. Now franchises, nation-wide brands, and department stores have made many individual industries obsolete. With online retailers, business has been required to adapt again.

Music (a keystone in culture from the beginning of history) has undergone shifts in the last 100 years from live music only to vinyl recordings on demand, to radio, through various physical mediums, Napster and illegal downloads to singles outselling albums on iTunes.

While it’s true that some businesses didn’t make it through these shifts, it’s also true that some businesses have thrived. What can we learn from both sides?

We have to come to terms with the reality that, for many people, since businesses adapted to the shift, while churches didn’t, the church is no longer the center of community and culture. In many ways, business has taken that place, so we need to take a look at the shifts that successful businesses has made in our community and culture and apply those principles to our church.


What Drives Business?

For years, businesses have been generating brand loyalty (to keep people connected to the brand), brand advocates (empower people who love the brand to encourage others to connect with the brand) and a sustainable economic structure to get their message to more people who then can become participants with the brand.

Or is it less dirty if I switch out “Businesses” with “churches”, ‘brand’ with ‘Jesus’ and remove the ‘marketing jargon.’

Churches work to keep people connected to Jesus, empower people to encourage others to connect with Jesus and use finances to get their message to more people who can connect with Jesus.


At the end of the day, while our end goal may be different (for businesses, it’s serving customers, employees, and investors, while churches it’s the great commission) the principles that are used in business can be helpful for our churches to connect people to Jesus, help them get others connected and spread our message.


I wrote this post on One Thing Jesus Knew About Marketing That Churches Resist. It’s a great starting point if your church is ready to connect people with Jesus, empower people to get others connected and spread your message.



Advertising Marketing

A bun with nothing on it

It was a warm Canadian summer day, just perfect for a family picnic in the park. It was so perfect that there was a light breeze, birds chirping and I’m pretty sure I saw a unicorn. We set up under the shade of a maple tree and pulled out our meal to eat. Our oldest, 8 at the time, wasn’t feeling well, and for lunch, he asked for a bun with nothing on it.

I gave him all kinds of options: ham, cheese, butter, mayo. His reply: A bun with nothing on it.

Just the way he said it was almost rhythmic. Now, in an effort to cheer him up, I started making outlandish suggestions that turned into meme-style over-the-top call and response.

Tomato? Elephant? Fingernail? Just a bun with nothing on it.

Next, because he was starting to giggle, it became:

What would you like for your birthday? Just a bun with nothing on it.

What about Thanksgiving? Bun with nothing on it, too.

What would you like for Easter? Just a bun with nothing on it.

What would you like for Christmas? (He jumped in) ‘Turkey! Just kidding. Bun with nothing on it.”

I’m pretty sure the entire park heard me roaring. It was such a great quip, totally out of the pattern and then right back in. It was a moment of fatherhood pride that, even while feeling unwell, he was right on his game to make someone laugh.

Now, whenever someone says “Just kidding” inevitably one of my boys will tag on “bun with nothing on it.” I’ve found myself explaining “A bun with nothing on it” to teachers, neighbors, and my parents when my boys bring it up because one of the most awkward feelings is being on the outside of an inside joke.

This got me thinking about what it feels like when someone interacts with our business, and we use terms, phrases, or acronyms (or ‘inside knowledge’) they don’t have any context for:

Why don’t your current CAC (customer acquisition cost) and your ROAS (return on ad spend) line up? It’s a WYSIWYG editor (what-you-see-is-what-you-get).

Sometimes our acronyms aren’t even specific to our business, but just general terms we think others will know or terms we use internally.

What’s your ETA (Estimated time of Arrival)? Is it too late to repond to the RFP? (Request for proposal).

Not only is the listener feeling the awkwardness of being on the outside of inside information, but we often assume everyone gets that acronym and we don’t take time to explain it.

So what can we do? Evaluate everything you’re going to communicate in a scenario where someone outside of your business may hear or read it: Social Media, your email newsletter, or your sales call, and view it through the eyes of someone who has never heard of a bun with nothing on it.


How to sell a parachute to a penguin

Let’s say you’re going to sell a parachute to a penguin (stay with me on this) and all you know is that a penguin is a bird. That is 100% fact. You strike up the conversation like you’re talking to a sparrow or flamingo or seagull; after all, you’re talking to a bird.

You start by asking how his morning flight was or when his favorite time to catch a worm is, or how long his wife incubates on the eggs before they’re hatched. The penguin has a couple of options. He can ignore you, correct you politely, tell you bluntly what his life is like or go along with you anyway, but despite his choice of response, he’s not in a position to embrace the parachute you’re trying to sell.

Why? Because you didn’t take the time to learn about the penguin, you brought to the conversation your understanding of birds.

If you had learned about your audience, you would know that, even though penguins are birds, they don’t fly, they spend 75% of their hunting time under water and the male holds the egg on his feet to hatch while the female scavenges and brings back food.

This isn’t to say you couldn’t find an opportunity to a penguin that needs a parachute in case he fell from the top of an iceberg or needed to jump off the end of a cliff to escape a hungry seal. After all, penguins can’t fly. But until that penguin knows you understand him, he’s not interested in what you have to sell. He’ll assume you don’t understand his needs and can’t then provide a solution. Even with facts in hand (A penguin is a bird. It’s a fact) don’t assume you already know.

The same thing happens when we try to communicate to an audience we don’t understand. Whether through advertising, creating a guest experience, speaking to a crowd or building a friendship, fundamentally, you have to understand the penguin in order to sell him the parachute.

The best way to get to know him? Ask.




Advertising Marketing

4 ways to create audience-focused advertising

Advertising is an important part of what we do and the goal is to inspire a response. Something like “That’s for me” or “I hadn’t thought of it that way” or “I can be part of that”.

Advertising has 2 parts:

Tell people what to expect

Whether you’re promoting a trunk-or-treat Halloween event, Christmas concert, a new series topic, small groups or a new members class, advertising is an essential first step, and gives people a window into what to expect from your event. When your event happens, if the event is as good or better than they expected, then you’re starting to build trust. This is true for internal promotions (like your bulletin or announcements) and external promotions (on Social Media, road signs, billboards or mailers) and every step of the way is an opportunity to strengthen trust. Tell them what to expect and come through on it.


Inspire a response

Telling people what to expect is about the WHAT, and inspiring a response is about the WHY. Why would someone get off their couch on a Tuesday night and come to this event? Why would someone stay late after church or spend $25 to come to this event? If you can nail the WHY, then the WHAT just falls into place.

Here’s an example: Your favorite band is coming to town on Saturday night. It’s on your bucket list to see them and your best friend wants to take you and buy your tickets. Why do you want to go to the concert? Because your favorite bucket-list band is coming to town and you have tickets.

Does it matter if the show starts at 7 or 7:30? Does it matter if the ticket was $20 or $25? Does it matter who is opening for them? These are all the ‘WHAT’ details and at some point they matter, but they’re not the WHY behind making the decision for you.

It’s important to realize that, in this example, your WHY may not be someone else’s WHY. Maybe their “WHY” is their boyfriend is in the opening band, or their kids want to go and they want to spend time together or they have a goal of seeing a live band every month this year, and this happens to be the closest concert.


Discovering what motivates your audience will help you craft your “Why” message in your advertising. Here are 5 ways to discover your audience’s “why”.


1. Imagine you are your audience

If YOU are the target audience, what would inspire you to go? What incentive would you need? Would you want to go alone or take someone with you? Based solely on your personality, what would motivate you to arrive? Now, take those answers, and figure out how your audience is different than you. Are they in a different income bracket, or have larger families, or work later than you or newer to your church? Tweak your perspective based on those differences and figure out WHY they would want to attend.


2. Ask someone who has attended before

If this is a new members class, then have a survey at the beginning of the class asking how they first heard about your church, what made them want to come and why they’ve chosen to come to your new members class. That information is valuable in discovering their WHY, and using that as a way of advertising the class next time.

For instance, if they say they came to your new members class because they want to serve on your kids team and being a member is a pre-requisite, then your advertisement next time could be ‘If you’d like to get involved in serving on a team at church, come to our membership class to learn more.’

You could also do a raffle at your outreach event asking 3 questions and collecting contact info. This will help you know who came any why so you can prepare for next year’s event.


3. Ask someone who has not attended

This is a typical conversation for me: “I know you’ve been coming for a few months, and it’s great to see you every Sunday. Have you been to our membership class? I look after our communications here, and it would be helpful for me to get your perspective about what you think about the class.”  Answers vary from work schedule (they work every Sunday and classes are on Sunday afternoons) or didn’t realize that was a way to get to serve on a team.

At one point, we were trying to get everyone to that class within the first 3 months they started attending, so in our announcements I was saying “If you’ve started coming to Life Church in the last 90 days, we’d like to invite you to Connect At Life…”. The feedback that we received is there were people who had been coming for a 6 months or a year and how thought they’d missed the window to attend, so by focussing on one audience (people who had just started attending) I was eliminating another (people who had been around for more than 90 days).

More causally “I’ll see you Tuesday at Trunk or Treat!” and hopefully they’ll confirm, or let you know they won’t be there, and maybe offer a why.


4. Explore who else is reaching your audience well

In a world of Social Media advertising, YouTube and crazy amounts of big data, it’s relatively easy to track down someone who is already reaching your audience and pick apart their strategy to expose the WHY.

Need to advertise a youth event? Who are your youth following and can you figure out why they resonate?

Need to reach single moms? Look around your church to see who has their attention.

Duplicating or dissecting what’s working for someone else can help get you a step closer to resonating with that audience.


Remember, the WHY matters more than the WHAT. Always ask yourself “Why would someone attend this event?” and target your advertising to them. What have you found to work well in your church’s advertising? Leave a comment!




10 things my father in law would have taught my kids

I’ve been thinking a lot about my late father-in-law, John Power. His birthday would have been a few days ago. He traveled all over mentoring pastors and speaking at churches and started a Bible College in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada where I attended the 2-year program. At the end of my first year in 2004, he moved from Saskatoon to be the Pastor at the church where I grew up in Woodstock, Ontario. So, when I was finished college, I moved back home and married my wife.

We spent a lot of time at their house both before we got married and after we got married. With few exceptions, we would go to their house for lunch on Sundays, spend the afternoon talking about church, crash on the couch for a nap, and wake up for dinner and a movie.

He was a communicator like no one else I know. He was practical in everything he taught, gave you something to implement right away, and did it with memorably quick wit.

On December 6, 2008, Celine and I were at church for a worship night. Part way through, I was pulled off stage and told that my father-in-law had gone out to shovel snow, had a heart attack, and passed away without any warning.

At the time, Celine was 4 months pregnant with our oldest son. Our boys didn’t get a chance to meet him, but if he was here today, here’s what I think he would tell them.

Everyone has potential

He saw the potential in everyone. If a mistake was made, he would continue to push that person toward their potential. He could paint a picture of possibilities for someone that they hadn’t even imagined about themselves. He chose to see potential even when others couldn’t see it in themselves.


You have something unique to say and your view on that will resonate with the people who need to hear it

Turning a radio on doesn’t create the radio waves. Radio waves are happening all around us all the time. A radio, when tuned to the right frequency, can interpret those waves. It doesn’t matter that you may be saying something that you think has been said before. God will create connections with people tuned into your frequency and they’ll hear it from you. There’s nothing new under the sun… except you. The same message people need to hear, but said by you, will resonate with someone.

He was the first person I knew who would send out a weekly email newsletter to their church. (This is before mail chimp or email marketing was a thing … this is straight up copying and pasting a list of email addresses we had into the BCC field.) The interesting thing was that he wasn’t sending out emails to promote upcoming events at church, but he was sending out follow-up thoughts to what he spoke on the previous Sunday or teasers about what he would be speaking about the next Sunday, because he knew that the message he had on his heart was resonating with people. We would regularly have people come to hear what he had to say simply because they got forwarded that email from someone in our church.


Communicate intentionally

It wasn’t by accident that he said the same things over and over, and that he worded them the same way with the same inflections. It wasn’t robotic, but intentional. It didn’t matter whether we heard him speak at our church or watched a video of him speaking at another church, it was consistency at its finest. We always heard “I’m part Jewish and part Irish. I’ll fight you for a good deal on potatoes.” And everyone who came to our church was clear on what our core values were and how we were going to live them out.


Connect with stories

Since he spoke at many different churches in many different areas, it was important for him to connect with whoever he was speaking to. We still meet people who will say they felt like he was a friend right from the first time they heard him speak. He connected with people who had it all together and people who were so far lost they had no idea they were lost.

This picture is of the head waiter on a cruise we went on together. By the last night of the cruise, the head waiter almost hovered over our table for the meal to talk and trade jokes and stories. We got incredible table service that week.

He would talk about being a long-haired hippy looking for hope in the wrong places and putting the wrong things up his nose.  He would rarely go without telling about the constant frustration he would have in his early career as a radio DJ – that every time he moved stations, they would change to a country music format. Even though very few people listening were probably ever radio DJs, he used that as an illustration to connect to the frustration of not feeling like we’re getting anywhere in life.

Whether he was sitting on a plane, in line at the store or meeting a server at a restaurant for the first time, he could find a common connection with whoever he met.

He would say, “If you can get someone to tell you their story, they’ll probably let you tell them yours, and that’s your chance to tell them about Jesus.”


Connect with humour

At any given time, we were only moments away from hearing another joke. He would say, “I’m not bald, I’m just taller than my hair.” Or, because he hated fish, he would point out that when Jesus fed the 5,000, the Bible says he gave thanks for the bread, but didn’t express any thankfulness for the fish …

I can’t even begin to list the number of times we would fall apart laughing in his kitchen, and Celine and my mother-in-law would come in to see if everything was alright. We had so many inside jokes, we could get each other to bust up from a single word or phrase.


The first thing you say may be the last thing someone remembers

While most guest speakers would start with, “Thank you to the Pastor for letting me speak today,” he would start with something like, “God loves you so much and there’s nothing you can do about it.” And when a server would come to the table and say, “My name’s Lisa. I’ll be your server today,”  he would say, “My name’s John. I’ll be your tipper today.”

Here is a clip where he starts with, “When Jesus wanted to heal people, often times, he would teach them … He wanted to teach them because often the most important healing that takes place after you’re saved is the healing between your ears …”


Always take a moment to thank and encourage

If you have the time, help someone see an opportunity to grow. But if you only have one moment, just encourage someone. He knew how to set himself up to be an encourager.

When we would go out to eat, he would order a large coke with no ice (not because he didn’t like ice, but because he wanted to see if the server was going to pay attention). When they brought him a large coke with no ice, he would say, “Thank you so much. Do you know how many people add ice anyway? Your tip is going up already.” And I promise, I’ve never had better service in a restaurant than when I was with him.


A husband and wife shouldn’t just love each other, but they should love being in love with each other

This one speaks for itself, and how he loved his wife spoke for itself. Celine came with this expectation into our marriage, and we love being in love with each other.


It takes humility to rest

I never appreciated a Sunday afternoon nap until we started making Sunday afternoons at Celine’s parents house part of our routine. You could argue that I was making different choices as I got older, but it wasn’t unusual for him to take a few days a month to go away or encourage me to watch TV and stay in bed all day now and then, because he understood that relaxation is a form of trust, knowing that God’s guiding our steps, we don’t have to send that one more email in order for people to stay at our church or make one more phone call or invite that new family to dinner just to appear welcoming. There are times for all of those things, but also a time to rest.


Live a life that people talk about years after you’re gone

I don’t know that he would have used these words, but here I am, late at night, sitting on my laptop 9 years later thinking to myself that I need to write this so I can show my boys as they grow up to appreciate it. I hope this for myself, and I hope to instil this in my kids.

My wife got an email a few months ago from friends who had vacationed in Hawaii. While they were there, they visited a church to see what it was like. When our friends told the people at the church that they were from Canada, someone asked right away if they knew John Power. He had never been to Hawaii, but at some point a connection was made .. An incredible coincidence, and yet, a reminder of the impact he left.


If you knew him, what was your favorite quote? If you hadn’t met him, I hoped there’s something here to learn and his legacy lives on.




Graphic Design Tools

5 ways to get over your creative block

We’ve all had those moments when we have a creative block.  You know there’s a graphic to create, a bulletin to design, a website layout just waiting to jump off the screen, but at the moment, you’re having a creative block.

It’s really easy at that moment to give up or give in to a distraction (did you know Amazon has daily deals in every department every day?).

Here are 5 ideas to get you past your creative block.  This is by no means an inclusive list, so comment at the bottom with what you’ve found working to turn your creative rut into a creative groove.

1. Change Your Surroundings

Go for a walk, go grab a coffee, work standing up or laying down (yes, I really do this). Go work at a coffee shop, or find a comfortable chair at the library.  Sit in someone else’s office (preferably if they’re not also in their office) or take a chair outside.

2. Try something understated

Whether you’re writing, designing a graphic, creating a video or just brainstorming, what’s the simplest way you could make this happen?  What if you removed all of your graphic elements except one, write about only 1 idea, storyline or character, or use only 1 camera angle.  The final product doesn’t have to be understated, but this could help your creativity get focussed on the project.

3. Bring in another person

The “first-reaction” method.  Hold your project in front of them, read a paragraph or ask for help on an idea.  “What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you see / hear / read / watch this?” Use that to gauge if you’re on target, and ask them what they think is coming next.

4. Scrap It

What would the project look like if you throw out everything you have and start blank? What it the one message you want to get across, and how can that be the focus?  Maybe it’s time to work on something else, set a timer and come back to this.

5. Change your medium

If you’re stuck on writing a blog post, make it a video. If you’re stuck writing a script, draw out a storyboard. If you’re stuck on making a video, make a teaser with snapchat, or instagram. If you are working on your computer, grab a pen and paper or if you’re working on a graphic, try writing out what impact you want the graphic to have, or record yourself describing it and listen back to it.


This is not an all-inclusive list, but some ideas to get you out of your creative rut.  What would you add to the list that has worked well for you?




Build a Team Marketing

9 rules for effective creative meetings

Remember when you were little and playing a game with the neighbour kids, then they change the rules and say “oh yeah, I forgot to tell about…” or if you’re learning a new game with some friends and they say “I’ll start with the basic rules so we can get the game going, and I’ll fill you in as we go on the details.”

Thumbs-Up-Guy-facing-leftI get frustrated in a situation when I can’t contribute my best because the parameters aren’t clear, and when it comes to our creative meetings, our team has found some really effective ways to maximize our productivity and effectiveness in a short amount of time – the reason: we’ve all agree to play by the rules.

These rules are not meant to limit participation (like saying you can’t touch the soccer ball with your hands) but are rather to give us a clear playing field so we can get to (in my opinion) the fun part of brainstorming and creating an execution strategy.

This list is not the 9 ways to have a perfect meeting, or 9 ways your team has to do it.  Each team is different, has different players and is playing a different game (if I may continue that analogy).  Take these ideas and figure out what they look like for your team, how they get applied and what your team needs to add to be most effective.

You may be asking “Adam, what does this have to do with marketing?” My answer would be that effective meetings will help you achieve results. Not sure what I mean? Try these on with your team…

I’d love to hear how you’ve implemented these or what you’ve added.  Comment in our Church Marketing Ideas Facebook group!

1. Invite only the relevant players

If you’re playing football, and it’s the offensive line on the field, don’t invite the defence to the party. If your conversation requires one person, have a one-on-one meeting.  If your conversation requires everyone on your team except one person, honor that persons time and let them know why you’re not bringing them in if necessary, but don’t bring them in to sit in an irrelevant meeting. If you have a set meeting where everyone on your team comes together, then only discuss issues relevant to everyone, and save the others for later.


2. Have an Agenda

Be clear about what you want to discuss and who needs to be in the discussion about those topics.  Be clear about the order. Decide that information before you call the meeting.  Sometimes you may want to share that agenda before the meeting, and sometimes it’s relevant to get everyones initial reactions at the same time.  Whether you share it ahead or not, have an agenda.


3. Start on Time and End on Time

Happy-with-Wordpress-Mainenance-ServiceI find it odd that we used to talk about when the meeting would start, but not have a clear plan about when the meeting would end.  Based on inviting the right people and having an agenda, take a guess at how long the meeting will be and set an end time… this way people can schedule their next appointment or goals and tasks for the day after that meeting.

When that time arrives, END ON TIME!  If there is more discussion to be had, book a follow up meeting with some or all of the relevant people.


4. Everybody contributes

If you’ve hand-picked who will be in the meeting, they’re here for a reason. Everybody contributes.  We have some people on our team who are louder and some quieter. Some who process out loud and some who sit and think.  Some people who want their opinion to be considered, and others who are happy to find a way to support whatever decision is made.  Regardless of those factors, everybody contributes.  After discussion and when a decision has to be made, go around the table and ask everyone what they’re suggestion is.

If you have a team member who likes to process, ask them last, once they’ve heard everyone else’s input.  “Whatever the team decides” is not contributing, because if that’s your answer, you didn’t need to be in the decision meeting.

You could help that person by asking “If the decision was yours, what would you choose?” or if they say “I pretty much agree with everyone” then ask “How do you see yourself participating in implementing.” or “What would it look like if we made a different decision?”  Learn to hear what’s not being said and draw the input out of that person.  They have a unique perspective that is valuable to the team.


5. Leave with an action plan

Your meeting has a purpose. It is probably meant to change something or cause an action.  Write down what your action is, who is responsible for completing what portions and by when they will have it completed.  Have everyone articulate back to you what their action is so that you’re clear.


6. Review the last meeting’s action plan

There’s no point in making an action plan in this meeting if we’re not going to be sure those actions got completed.  This isn’t an opportunity to come down on someone who hasn’t completed their task, but an opportunity to celebrate the completed tasks, help overcome hurdles that could have prevented previous tasks and be clear on what now needs to be achieved to move forward.


7. Nobody leaves confused

DIY-GuyIf you’re not sure of what the play is, don’t leave the huddle.  This is each team member’s opportunity to clarify the action, the responsibility and the “by when”.  If anyone is unsure on the motive, the big picture, the small details, the timeline, the key players or what’s expected of them, this is the time to ask.

Being sure doesn’t mean that everyone is on the same page… I could be 100% sure I heard something that you didn’t say, and you could be 100% sure I heard what you said.  Being sure isn’t being clear.

Ask you team to summarize their understanding of the action plan and listen for hints that someone isn’t entirely clear.


8. What happens in the room stays in the room

Sometimes conversations go beyond the topic and sometimes they become emotional.  We’ve agreed that we won’t hold someone’s actions or opinions for ammunition at a future time and we won’t undermine the public conversation with private conversations later.  This trust allows us to be honest, admit our flaws, come up with genuine raw ideas and create an opportunity to be ourselves.


9. Get clear with everyone before the meeting

If someone said or did something in the meeting, at the water cooler or in an email or text message that didn’t sit right with you, ask them to clarify, get on the same page with them and come to the meeting clear.  The last thing we need in our discussion about a website overhaul is to have a couple of people on about last Friday’s “Photocopier incident” or that they needed an elastic and someone had taken the last one in the drawer, or worse yet is having 2 people silently fuming toward each other and not able to draw them in to contribute to the conversation.  You don’t have to go look for problems and then create resolves, but if there’s an unmet expectation of someone else on the team, we get that cleared up with them privately so we can contribute our best to the group.


I would love to hear what else you have setup for your meeting, how you live by or reiterate your meeting rules, or by when you’ll choose to explore and implement meeting rules for your team!  Leave a comment below, or track me down on twitter @Adam_McLaughlin