Training ProPresenter Ops

Image courtesy of Renewed Vision.

Image courtesy of Renewed Vision.

A few weeks back, I mentioned the ProPresenter operators I had while I was TD at Coast Hills. We had a great team and as much as I visited other churches, would put them up against lyric operators anywhere. It was a rare occasion that they got lost or behind on lyrics and did a great job staying ahead of the song—we’re leading worship, remember, not trailing it. Someone asked how we got the team to that point. It wasn’t really that hard; I just fired all the bad people.

Seriously, our process was pretty simple. When I arrived there, we had a part-time graphics person. She was running Keynote on two machines (one for confidence and one for main screen) and was quite good at it. She left for a new gig a few months after I got there and we switched to ProPresenter. The woman I hired was also very good at it and she was very receptive to training volunteers. So that’s what we did. She trained and I encouraged. It was pretty much that simple.

Times Change

Over time, we had to cut budgets and my part-time graphics position was eliminated. So that left me to continue to build that team. Part of the reason for the power of that team was that we carefully selected people to do it. Not everyone can run lyrics. Read that again. I know it looks simple—just press the space bar. In reality, it’s one of the hardest jobs in the tech booth. The operator has to stay focused 100% of the time. That is, unless they know the songs cold. So, we carefully chose people that knew music. We always posted the songs to Planning Center every weekend and I strongly encouraged the team to listen to the songs and get to know them before showing up for rehearsal.

Know The Music

We spent way more time teaching the team how to cue slides in time with the music than we did on how to operate ProPresenter. My ATD and I did most of the work to get the songs built each week, so for the most part, that was done. The team knew how to make changes, but really I wanted them focused on getting the words up on screen at the right time.

With new team members, they would sit and watch an experienced operator for a few weekends before getting hands on. Then, they would sit with experienced members and cue slides during rehearsal. It was during this phase that we could tell if they were going to make it or not. Some people have an innate ability to pick up on this, others do not. When new volunteers simply couldn’t figure out when to hit next, we moved them into another position on the team. 

Sometimes, they would hesitate; they would follow the words instead of lead. If that was happening, I would wander over and sit with them for a while to make sure they understood they were the worship leaders. The lyrics have to be up on screen before people sing them. I made sure they knew this. 

It’s Just Time

Really, the secret to success was how much time we spent with them. I payed really close attention to how they were doing as they came up to speed, and when I felt they were falling behind or not paying attention, I talked with them. We held the bar high and if they started to slip, I talked with them. I was never harsh or demeaning, but always made sure they understood this was a big deal and I needed them to do a great job. Pretty much all of them got it and rose to the occasion.

There were some that did not rise up; and we moved them on to either other positions on the team or another ministry altogether. This is something that I feel some TDs struggle with. They keep have someone on the team who clearly isn’t doing a good job, but won’t remove them because they need the position covered. However, I think sometimes God will withhold providing us a new, better person because we’re afraid to remove someone who shouldn’t be there. 

That’s pretty much it. There is no secret sauce, no written curriculum, no magic incantation. We spent time with our team members and made sure they understood what we needed them to do. If they didn’t or couldn’t keep up, we moved them on. It’s simple, but perhaps not easy

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