Phil Bowdle offers a checklist:
One of the most challenging things in service planning for pastors and communication leaders can be managing stage announcements. Without a system and strategy in place, you can quickly find yourself stuck in a rhythm of spending ten minutes on announcements at the end of the service, while not being effective with any of them.
Time is limited and stage announcements are not the answer to everything. Here are seven reasons why you’re not getting a stage announcement:
1. It doesn’t apply to at least eighty percent of the audience.
This is the most important question you can ask when deciding if something should be announced from stage. I do occasionally break this eighty percent rule for key ministry on-ramp events/programs, or when it’s a direct next step for what’s being preached about in the sermon.
2. It should be announced at your ministry event, not the whole church.
For example, if you need to communicate an event happening with student ministry, the most effective place to get the word out is at your student ministry gatherings. Same applies to other areas.
3. There’s no clear “why.”
If you can’t share the “why” associated with the announcement in less than thirty seconds, it’s going to be hard to communicate effectively from stage. It’s going to be even harder to get your audience to care.
4. The announcement sends them on a rabbit trail.
“Is there childcare?” “Do I have to register?” “Where is the event?” Without knowing the who, what, when, where, how and why of the announcement, you’ll quickly create more questions than answers and lose your audience in the process. Effective announcements have a clear next step involved for what they should do next. It’s okay to not mention every detail, but it’s crucial to communicate where they can find all the info they need. For us at West Ridge, we always communicate that they can get more information at our Help Center in the atrium or at WestRidge.com. If it’s announced on a Sunday, we include a link to that program/event on the home page so it’s easy to find for our visitors.
5. It’s not an effective time to announce it.
One of the keys to developing a communications plan is to be strategic about when you’re going to promote programs and events. Don’t waste bandwidth on announcing something before your audience can do anything with that information. For example, if you’re announcing Christmas service times, it’s more important to announce that in the two to three weeks before Christmas when your audience is making plans than it is in November when it’s likely too far off to do anything with that information.
6. It’s a band-aid to a short-term problem, not part of an on-going strategy.
Do you need two more volunteers in the nursery? There are two ways you can approach this.
Option #1: Announce from stage that you need two more volunteers in the nursery. You’ll likely find the volunteers, but you’ll create a precedent for every ministry to ask for stage announcements anytime they are a couple volunteers short. Also, your audience will think that the only place you need volunteers is in the nursery.
Option #2: You strategically and consistently announce to the whole audience that there are opportunities across the church to serve and make an impact. Through this, you’re encouraging everyone to take their next step in serving and building your volunteer base across all ministries.
7. There are too many things being announced already.
If you really want your announcements to be effective, pick one or two announcements that are most important for your audience to know and say no to the rest.