ProPresenter Time-Savers

I'm really kind of lazy. Actually, that's not true. I have a serious work ethic. Though people at work make fun of me for rarely showing up before 9 (to me 9:20 is still "9"), I rarely leave before 6, and it's not uncommon to find me at my desk at home doing system design or something until 11 PM. So, perhaps it's not laziness as much as an intense desire to be efficient.

I'm an INTP, and if you know Myers-Briggs, that explains a lot. Time means something different to me than it does to most people. My desire is to get as much done in a given amount of time so that I can get on to doing other stuff (also efficiently, I might add). But all that is really a set up to what this post is all about. Yes sir, this post is about ProPresenter. And being lazy. Here are a few tips on how I get more done in less time.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Planning will set you free. And the first step in planning is to actually have one. A plan, that is. That begins with the lyric sheets from the worship leader. Our worship pastor, Jon, has the best lyric sheets and song scans ever. Seriously. Here's an example:

A typical lyric sheet. (click to enlarge) A typical lyric sheet. (click to enlarge)It's very easy to see the different song sections, and what order he'll sing them in. And if he deviates, he'll call it out from the stage before he does it. I love that about him. So now that we know what the various pieces of the song should be called, here's how I set it up on ProPresenter.

First, my rule of thumb is to not have more than 4-5 lines of a song on the screen at any given time. I've found any more than that is confusing, and people lose their place. That means that most verses need to be broken up into a few slides, as will some choruses and the occasional bridge. One thing I love about ProPresenter is the ability to assign labels to every slide. So I do. Take a look.

It's more than a pretty color scheme. It's highly functional. (click to enlarge) It's more than a pretty color scheme. It's highly functional. (click to enlarge)You'll see Verse 1--A, Verse 1--B, Verse 1--C, Verse 1--D. You'll see Chorus A and Chorus B. You'll even see Bridge A, and Bridge B, Bridge C and Bridge D. Why? Because I never want to get the slides out of order on accident. You see, I could label all four Verse 1 slides "Verse 1." But what happens if I accidently mix up the order when I'm editing? Then I have to refer back to the chart to figure it out. And remember, I'm lazy. Doing it this way makes it super-easy to make sure you have every slide of every section in the right spot. Efficient, huh? And you can pre-populate the labels list with all these labels.

All my frequently used labels. Out of order, but still handy. All my frequently used labels. Out of order, but still handy.Sadly, as of right now, Pro mixes up the nice, logical order you put them in, but I just alerted them to this fact, and hopefully we'll have a fix soon.

Now, another thing you'll see is that each slide has a color assigned to it. This is another favorite ProPresenter feature. I came up with a pretty random, yet now standard, color scheme for all our songs. Verses are blue, pre-choruses are magenta, choruses are purple, bridges are orange, tags are red and blanks are yellow. It took a little while to get used to the color scheme, but it makes it super-fast (and super-easy) to find a slide on the fly when the song change.

Chose your colors carefully. They'll save you in a pinch. Chose your colors carefully. They'll save you in a pinch.Let's say we're finishing up the bridge. The order calls for a chorus next, but instead the worship leader decides to loop back to the verse. If you're staring at a sea of grey slides, finding it takes a few seconds. However, if you know the verse is blue, you click the first blue slide in a sequence of blue slides, and blammo, the right slide is on the screen..

And the best part is, after a few months, you start to get your catalog of songs all labeled and color-coded, and when you start building worship orders, it takes but a few seconds to scan the slides and the lyric chart to make sure everything is set correctly for this week. If the order changes, it's easy to do it because you're moving blocks of color around, not random grey slides. It's what I like to call a win-win-win.

Oh, and here's one more tip for you (and this one is free). If you already have a song in your library that you want to use this system with, you don't need to individually label every instance of Verse 1--A, or Chorus A. Clover-click on each Chorus A slide (for example), then right-click on the last one of the set, and choose your label. It labels them all in one shot. Same goes for colors. With colors it's even faster, because if you clover-click the first one in a series, then shift-clover-click the last one, it selects all in between. Then you can right-click and pick your color. I just saved you a half-hour over the next month of labeling slides.

Now go color-code some slides. You'll thank me later.