Old Production Takes From an Old Guy

Preventing Insanity Among Presentation Volunteers

By now you probably know that I’m all about the volunteers. I keep tweaking my systems, formulating new processes and trying to come up with new ways to make life easier for our volunteers. Recently, we implemented something that has gone a long way to lowering the blood pressure of our ProPresenter operators. It’s so simple, yet so effective, it’s a wonder we never made a habit of it before. Once in a while we might do it, but never regularly. It works so well, it’s even in the schedule!

What is this magical ritual, this secret formula for solving the world’s ills you ask? In a word, collaboration. We now have a dedicated time slot for the worship leader to physically walk up to the tech booth and stand next to the ProPresenter operator and walk through all the worship tunes. Yup, that’s it. It’s brilliance is in it’s simplicity.

We’ve been getting great charts from our worship leader, with equally good “scans” (aka. verse, chorus order) for a long time. But even with that good bit of information, there always seemed to be a few things missed. Perhaps I forgot to insert a chorus repeat, or he forgot to note one. Now, he and the presentation volunteer walk through the songs together and make sure they’re on the same page.

They get to note instrumentals, bridges, breaks, repeats, whatever the needs of the song. He’ll tell them when he’s going to talk before a song begins so they know to hang on the blank for a bit. And they get to ask any questions and clarify whatever they need. Like I said, it’s brilliant.

It only takes about 10 minutes to go through the entire set, but that 10 minutes saves us twice that in run through. I know this because we have been able to shorten run through to include just the ins and outs of each song (mainly so we can check lighting transitions). Cutting almost 20 minutes out of run through means we’re done earlier, which means we now have plenty of time to relax, hang out and pray before the service starts. And that makes everyone sharper.

I know it doesn’t seem like an earth shattering revelation, but often the greatest improvements come from the smallest steps. Give it a shot.

8 Comments

  1. dmwc@charter.net

    We started doing this at my church a few months ago. Before, we pretty much just “went with the flow” during the “praise & worship” part of the service as far as repeats and such, but checking everything out beforehand has just made everything “flow” so much better! We now know when songs will be repeated, when they will have extra tags at the end, and so on. I really don’t know why we never did this before.

  2. dmwc@charter.net

    We started doing this at my church a few months ago. Before, we pretty much just “went with the flow” during the “praise & worship” part of the service as far as repeats and such, but checking everything out beforehand has just made everything “flow” so much better! We now know when songs will be repeated, when they will have extra tags at the end, and so on. I really don’t know why we never did this before.

  3. mbhsound@gmail.com

    We’ve done this at our church for a quite a while now, but we still have a problem with our worship leader throwing in random repeats or such.

    We’re doing somewhat better now, but it always causes problems when it does happen.

    Still I definitely agree, it’s very useful.

  4. mbhsound@gmail.com

    We’ve done this at our church for a quite a while now, but we still have a problem with our worship leader throwing in random repeats or such.

    We’re doing somewhat better now, but it always causes problems when it does happen.

    Still I definitely agree, it’s very useful.

  5. mike@churchtecharts.org

    Matt–
    Those worship leaders… what can you do!? Here’s something you could suggest to him (or her). If there is going to be a random verse repeat, ask them to simply give the first few words of the verse before they actually sing it. Our worship leader, Jon, does this very well. If he’s going to loop back and repeat something that wasn’t in the “script,” he’ll say, “Sing How Great…” in the measure or so leading up to the chorus, for example. That does two things.
    First, it plants the first few words in the minds of the congregation so they know where they’re going. Second, it buys a few seconds for the presentation operator to find the words and get them on the screen. And if they’re a few words late, it’s OK because they already know what to sing. It helps a lot.
    mike

  6. mike@churchtecharts.org

    Matt–
    Those worship leaders… what can you do!? Here’s something you could suggest to him (or her). If there is going to be a random verse repeat, ask them to simply give the first few words of the verse before they actually sing it. Our worship leader, Jon, does this very well. If he’s going to loop back and repeat something that wasn’t in the “script,” he’ll say, “Sing How Great…” in the measure or so leading up to the chorus, for example. That does two things.
    First, it plants the first few words in the minds of the congregation so they know where they’re going. Second, it buys a few seconds for the presentation operator to find the words and get them on the screen. And if they’re a few words late, it’s OK because they already know what to sing. It helps a lot.
    mike

  7. pbuescher@crossroads.net

    I get a CD from the rehearsal (from thursday) and listen to the song recording prior to the saturday run through to ensure all of the lyrics flow correctly. Also, I change the color and label if a slide repeats, but other than that, the flow is completely linear. I send an MP3 to the volunteer running lyrics so they can get a feel for the song prior to arriving for run-through. This has been working very well with one exception: We have a complete worship service that is pretty much free flowing. We have an idea of what songs they may play, but not the rendition. We just do our best in this situation.

  8. pbuescher@crossroads.net

    I get a CD from the rehearsal (from thursday) and listen to the song recording prior to the saturday run through to ensure all of the lyrics flow correctly. Also, I change the color and label if a slide repeats, but other than that, the flow is completely linear. I send an MP3 to the volunteer running lyrics so they can get a feel for the song prior to arriving for run-through. This has been working very well with one exception: We have a complete worship service that is pretty much free flowing. We have an idea of what songs they may play, but not the rendition. We just do our best in this situation.

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