Offering technical assistance with church websites every day offers me a great opportunity to sneak a peek into the online life many churches daily.
I always find myself sneaking off to the sermon section to listen to a few podcasts. Over the years I have been blessed with some of the best sermons, right there in the podcast section of a church that I never attended from a pastor that I will never meet.
I have been impressed with the advancement of quality in the production of sermon podcasts over the years, and today that church sermons as podcasts can easily stand their ground. I want to commend each and every one that gives countless hours of their time to make online sermons a possibility.
A polished sermon podcast is not just about producing a compelling set of messages every week, but also ensuring that the technical aspects of your podcast is up to scratch.
If you are just getting into podcasts and putting your sermons online, then you will find this checklist an invaluable tool in ensuring your podcast gets an approved nod from the congregation.
Be the strictest editor you know.
Keep your focus on the task at hand – present your church sermon and that alone. The beautiful song your band sang, the announcements, the very emotional altar call your pastor made, the parish praying together for a brother or sister in hospital, and anything that is not part of the sermon should not be included in the message.
Truth be told, the wonderful baptism you had, was special because of a myriad of factors that culminated into a special atmosphere. You can be sure that the said special atmosphere will not be transferred ot the podcast, and the experience will not be the same.
Summarize, rewind and fast forward.
With the editing checked of the list, we move into a area that is somewhat out of the control of the technical staff, and rests in the hand of whoever brings the message, but if everyone understands the bigger picture, then all should be fine.
Start the sermon with a quick summary, and the passage in the bible that the sermon pertains to. Sure, you want to leave some mystery to keep the interest, but it is a little awkward when someone just starts to talk, and nobody knows where this sermon will lead off to. Even if you have a summary of the sermon in text in the same post as the media-player, add a audio summary at the start of the sermon.
You might also want to remind the audience about a previous sermon if the sermon forms a part of the series. Keep in mind that your sermon series are there for a particular purpose, and that is to convey a message that might be too long or involved for a single sermon. Get some extra traction to your sermons and wet the listener’s appetite for another sermon.
Lastly you can end with a short preview to the next sermon, just to whip up some interest for upcoming podcasts.
Adding the audio intros and links to other sermons will make a big difference to the quality of the end product.
Introductions is important
One of the biggest enhancements that you can make to take your sermons up a notch is to add a nice introduction just before the sermon.
Set the stage with a little background music and introduce your church to the world. Remember to include your physical address, service times, web address and telephone number.
Now is the time to spend a little time on a short script and think about the content. Keep your intro upbeat and friendly, and keep the background music soft enough so that it will not fight the introduction voice for attention.
Music file compression
The biggest favor that you can do your audience is ensuring that they consume the smallest file possible. Music files can grow to audio monsters in a heartbeat.
As a rule of thumb, you should be concerned if your file size reach more than 1.5megabyte of file size for every 1 minute of podcast. There is no reason why you should not be able to resize the file to around 1 megabyte of data for every minute of podcast and less without any audible loss of quality.
If software and mixing boards is not your strong suit, then you need not worry, you can easily resize your mp3 online with a service like audioformat.com.
When play a song in any program or portable player, you’ve probably noticed information that displays with that track. Song title, track number, album title, artist name, and the picture of the album are just some of the details that can be saved with the mp3. You can even add the churches web address.
The magic of id3tags is that all of this information displays no matter what the file name is.
As with compression, you do not have to worry if you are not all that technically minded, there is a slew of online tools that will assist you in adding id3 tags to a mp3 one which can be found at tagmp3.net.
Normalize your music
Of all the techniques discussed here, I would say that normalization can be the most difficult. Though it is not very difficult, toy will need to install software on your computer to get the job done.
The reason that you need to normalize your mp3 is for the reason that the volume that your sermon are recorded at are never the same for every Sunday.
If the music is not normalized you will experience the podcast quite loud on one Sunday while it is almost inaudible on another. When you normalize a track the software analyzes the mp3 files and determines how they will sound to the human ear. It will then adjust the files so they have about the same loudness, without affecting the quality of the recording.
Lifehacker had a discussion a while ago where there visitors discussed the issue and made recommendations on the best software solutions. You will find the article here.
If you find our list of changes a little daunting to begin, don't fret. Just start to implement the changes bit by bit and before you know it you will be in the habit of publishing like a pro.