Overall presentation at Events matters

Have you ever been to an event that has exceeded your expectations?  Have you been to an event where everything looked perfectly in place, well laid out and everything flowed smoothly?  Sometimes in the rush to get our events ready we overlook the presentation of the event to focus on the content.  Whilst content is important, bad presentation spoils content every time.  For example, imagine a poorly designed website which may have great content but you can’t find it.

Last night I went to a youth ministry event by Mustard that exceeded my expectations.  Mustard is a ministry that runs events in schools here in Melbourne and were hosting a Roundtable event for Parents and Youth Leaders.  After almost 20 years in youth ministry I have seen all types of events from well-done presentations to complete train wrecks.  This event was above the average events I attend, even many of the good events that I have been to.  There were just a few things that caught my eye that were better than standard events that I go to.

Here are a few little things that made the overall presentation at the event better than other youth ministry events I have attended:

  1. Welcome signs – as the event was on a large church campus with many rooms there were signs directing me from the car park to location of the event.  Often event coordinators assume that people will follow the crowd or look for where the lights are on to know where the event is being held.  As an event coordinator help participants find the right room with a few welcome signs.
  2. Greeter – at the main foyer there was a person who greeted me and directed me along the hallway to the sign up desk.  At the sign up desk there was a person greeting people in front of the desk and several people behind the desk taking registrations.
  3. Name tags – I am used to writing my name on a name badge with a marker but these name tags had my name printed on the tag as well as the event logo. 
  4. Event logo – The team hosting the event had designed a logo for the event and printed the logo on the registration form, name tags, PowerPoint slides and handouts.
  5. Button Badge – each team member had a button badge with the ministry name on it.  It was that extra step that impressed me.  Each of the team members were smartly dressed rather than dressing like young people because it was a youth ministry event.
  6. Stage set up – there were a few props on stage that got the crowd talking as they entered the room.  These props were then used at a point within the event to explain a key message.
  7. Skype call to Guest – there aren’t many events that attempt a live feed of a guest from another country.  Mustard had a live feed of special guest Cheryl Crawford from Azuza Pacific University and Fuller Youth Institute in the USA.  This isn’t a multi million dollar ministry either; they were just using skype but had done their homework on how to get working well.  Cheryl had been prepared ahead of time and they had a plan for drop outs, which did happen, to keep things moving.
  8. Hospitality – the coffee and tea were laid out really well and there were nice cupcakes to go with the drinks.  Whilst we drank our tea and coffee there were team members connecting with the crowd.  There was a musician creating atmosphere with some live music.  There were also large posters of other ministry events on art easel’s to create atmosphere.

Whilst the ministry team had gone to all this effort to get the overall presentation correct, the content delivered as well.  As we connected over coffee and tea the participants were talking about the content of the talks. If you are interested in the content of the night you hear an audio copy of the event on a special website, click here, which again is above average for many events I go to.

Presentation should enhance the content of an event rather than dominate it.  Yet sometimes we rush our preparation, setup and layout to focus on the content and we overlook how important presentation is.  Take the examples about as a guide of how you might exceed people expectations at your next youth ministry event.

Please add a comment about events that you have attended where the presentation exceeded your expectations.

You might also be interested in Creating a Big Impression at Church

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Creating better connection over church coffee

To all the coffee drinkers going to Church this Sunday …..

Recently I was standing outside church near the coffee stand when I heard a person ask her group if they were getting coffee here or going out for coffee.  At this point her group of friends said they were going out for coffee so she joined them in their tight friendship circle.  It was obvious to me that they were enjoying each others conversation but they weren’t drinking church coffee and they weren’t letting anyone into their conversation.

To all the coffee drinkers out there, and I love a good coffee, church coffee is not about the coffee, it is about fellowship.  In all my ministry time I think I could count on one hand the good coffees I have had at church.  Yet I persist with the average coffee because it is a chance to talk to someone after church or before a church meeting.

As a ministry leader how can you get the “coffee snobs” to hang around for the fellowship instead of driving off in search of a “real” coffee. Here are a few things to improve your fellowship or connection time after church or before your next ministry meeting:

  • Is the coffee really bad? Change coffee – if you don’t drink coffee ask one of the coffee experts in your ministry or church to give you advice.  One tip, if the coffee is referred to as “caterers blend” then stop buying it.  If you change your brand of coffee you might not please everyone but you may stop annoying some.
  • Call it connection time not coffee time – these days most people go out for “coffee” when they really mean they are going out to connect with people.  People can drink great coffee at home so highlight the connection factor rather than the coffee.  Perhaps call it connection time or call the location where you serve coffee “connection central”.  Enhance this connection focus by having of your flyers, notices and event promotion here also.
  • Get out from behind the counter – sometimes we get the best hospitality team but we lock them in the canteen style kitchen where a massive bench separates them from the people.  Get your hospitality team out of the canteen and have all the coffee on a central table so everyone can mix in.  Have your hospitality team moving amongst the crowd not stuck in a canteen.
  • Introduce groups to each other – if you have problems of tight friendship circles forming in your connection area then have some of your team move between groups opening up the conversation.  You regular phase should be “have you met this person? Let me introduce you”  As people are coming in for the meeting or coming out of church, move people into mixed groups or combine smaller groups of friends.
  • Give people a conversation starter – whilst we hope that the church service is so inspiring that people can’t wait to talk about it, perhaps maybe they don’t.  So at the end of your ministry meeting or church service give people a question to ask each other as they leave.  That way the people who aren’t friends can have a safer way to break the ice and start a new conversation.

Now perhaps that all sounds good but if your first reaction was what you serve coffee at church? then perhaps you need to work on your hospitality skills.

All of us are looking for ways to get people in our ministry to connect before or after meetings so please leave a comment about how you have improved your hospitality.