What I’m Learning About Speaking Online: Forging Friendship in a Lonely World

Last March my speaking schedule was full. One Sunday a month was reserved for Valley CrossWay Church where I serve as resident author, and I spoke another once or twice a month in other churches and community settings. That was just the right amount of speaking to balance out the time I had committed to my various writing projects.

Then when churches shut down to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus, all of my in-person speaking engagements were suddenly postponed or cancelled. Over the next weeks my church introduced worshipping over Zoom, and as other churches and ministries learned new technologies and became more comfortable with them, I started receiving invitations to speak online via Zoom, Google Meet, and most recently Wirecast Rendezvous. My speaking schedule is again now full—two or three times a month—since I’m doing less other writing these days.

I’m grateful for the technology that allows us to connect even during this time of physical distancing, and I’ve learned a lot about speaking online. I’m still learning, but here are a few tips that have been working well for me followed by my first livestream video.

Position the camera at or just above eye level
So far I’ve been using the camera on my laptop which I set on top of some large books. Having the camera a bit higher helps me look up instead of down, and looks more natural than having the camera too low.

Light from above and in front of your face
I’ve been using the existing ceiling light in my home office and a halogen floor lamp placed behind my laptop. For the livestream below, I added another small lamp on my desk, since the church’s resident tech expert suggested more light in front. Adding the extra lamp made me realize again how makeshift my set-up is, so I’m now thinking of getting a ring light for my office so I don’t have to keep moving lamps from other parts of the house into my office and then back again.

Always do a tech check
My church does a tech check on Saturday to prepare for Sunday morning. Others do a check-in just before the service starts. For the livestream below, we did two checks the week before, plus a check-in before the service that included running through the sermon slides that the church had created from my notes. This was the first time for me on livestream, and the church was livestreaming with a guest remotely for the first time, so it was good to have the extra time to test everything.

Be patient with technical difficulties
When it comes to technology, it seems as if no amount of checking ahead of time is enough; unfortunately the link dropped near the start of yesterday’s service, so we had to start over. We had exchanged cell phone numbers so we could text if we needed to, but since the technical difficulty didn’t involve me, I didn’t receive a text—all I knew was that the image on my screen was frozen, and I had no audio. I imagined there was quite a scramble behind the scenes to get everything working, so I simply waited with my frozen screen until the tech was worked out, and we were back on.

Trust God in everything
In person and online, from preparation to practice to gathering for worship, whatever the technical difficulties, whatever the challenges of sharing from the Word, whatever other anxieties we might have, trust God in everything. As the worship leader says in the video below, “We believe that the Spirit of God is not intimidated by livestream or screens or any technical difficulties. He is here, he is present, and wants to meet us where we are.”

Forging Friendship in a Lonely World

Pilgrim Church

The service begins at 3:20, and the introduction to my speaking is at 28:45.

_______________

If you’re interested in inviting me to speak, you’ll find more information here.

For more encouragement and resources on doing ministry better:

Author: April Yamasaki

Embracing the writing life in all its delight and challenge: I currently serve as resident author with a liturgical worship community, write online and in print publications, and often speak in churches and other settings. Publications: On the Way with Jesus, Four Gifts, Sacred Pauses, and other books on Christian living. Websites: AprilYamasaki.com and WhenYouWorkfortheChurch.com.

One thought

  1. I’m grateful fo hear from church leaders who have shared this article with their Zoom speakers along with other tips: Look at your camera instead of the screen, Remove distractions in the background, Relax. Please feel free to add more tips….

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