I have found it much easier to develop a design for my own local church than I ever have for churches that I have never even stepped foot in. Why is that? Context. The plain and simple fact is that you know your church’s unique context.
Last week we looked at the 5 basics principals for a good foundation when creating your slide deck. If you haven’t looked over those points first – do it. Now. Because this week we are building on those principals to begin the process of designing effective content. Let’s dig a little deeper into some areas of your context to consider when creating that ever important slide graphic.
The most obvious context is your people. It is also one of the most important areas – knowing what makes them tick. Being able to understand your audience and what best communicates with them will guide the design of your slides. This is where template graphics just will not do.
The goal here is to enhance the connection of the message to your people. If you start to lose that connection for the sake of something “cooler” or that you are interested in, then you have missed the point.
There are two main groups of people you need to understand:
The Congregation or your general audience. It is important to know what is the median age? What type of career is the average attendee a part of (yes this matters!)? If your congregation is made of up 9-5 office staff or factory engineers and farmers the images you use will connect very differently.
The Pastor/Speaker is also important to understand. Afterall this is the person creating and delivering the message. You need to understand what makes them tick down to the details. Knowing how they think and exactly what where they are going with a concept before they even fully articulate it is INVALUABLE. This is a skill that every good designer should learn. It will save you and your leaders hours of time over and over.
In the last several months my local church moved to a new location that had more property and a larger facility and auditorium to accommodate growth. What I have learned (and am still learning!) is that your building can have a significant effect on how you design:
Lighting can affect the colors you use. If your worship center has no windows and complete control of the lights then you will find greater freedom in the colors and contrasts you use. If, like our old building, you have windows every 10 feet you need to test your graphics and text to make sure you have enough contrast to maintain slides that are easy to read and understand.
Dimensions – How far back will your last row of seating be? Be careful not to create a graphic that is not legible from the furthest distance in your auditorium.
How high are your ceilings? Or in other words – your screens? You may have low screens and will need to keep in mind people’s heads or other objects getting in the way of the lower parts of your slides.
16:9 or 4:3 (widescreen or standard) I learned this in our recent move as well. We went from 16:9 to basically a square 4:3 – this has had a huge impact on my designs. I grew accustomed to being able to use nice wide images and side by side text. Now I need to think more square, stacked layouts.
Geographically where are you? I am near Tampa Florida so a slide with nice mountain scapes or fresh snow just do not connect nearly as well as warm images with clear lines and some gritty texture.
The most common mistake on this I see is the overused wheatfield image. If it is in direct relation to scripture using wheat as an example then it’s ok. But more often than not churches seem to just throw this thing in there on everything. Well, not a whole lot of wheat in Florida or the Colorado Rockies – just saying. Be thoughtful in your imagery and take into account where you live.
Many of these tips can be applied to your slides THIS week. And the key to many is test test test. Figure out what works in your building. However the people pieces will take time and a lot of missed marks. That’s ok, it is part of the process! Just keep moving forward, elicit feedback from your leaders and the congregation, get out and figure your people out if you don’t understand them already!
What other aspects do you think need to be considered with your church slides for specific contexts?