I have a confession to make: I totally botched the opening of the 9:35 service this weekend. Looking back, I can see exactly where things went wrong, and it’s because I violated my process. Here’s what happened.
At 9:31, one of the camera ops asked if I could dump her coffee. I figured I had 4 minutes, so I’d run to the restroom and dump it there. Once in the restroom, I figured, why not, I have time. I got back to the booth at 9:34. I noticed Reaper hadn’t started recording, and it wasn’t responding. The broadcast guy came out with the removable drive and we got the recording going. When the cue was called, I hit Next and nothing happened. I hit it again. Nothing. I glanced at the monitor and found, to my horror, I was still on the Walk Out snapshot. So I quickly tabbed up and hit fire. Except I tabbed up to Walk In, not WL Welcome. I hit Next again, and again and finally, the service got under way with the first song. The welcome was lost in the shuffle.
Now, that’s not the end of the world, and I shook it off and mixed a solid service. But as I sat there during the message thinking about the events that transpired, I was reminded again about why I have a process.
Be Ready Early
One big key to my process is to be in the booth at 5 minutes before service start. I don’t really like to be talking to people at that time, and I’m not on my phone. I check all the equipment I need for the service.
Recording? Ready; check.
Wireless Mics? On, batteries good; check
Walk In Snapshot? Yes; check.
Music Playback on top layer of Mac so I can stop it without clicking around? Yes; check.
One IEM in and Stage Announced on PFL? Yes; check.
That entire process takes less than a minute. I spend the next few minutes thinking through the service. If you’ve ever watched a professional skier at the top of the hill before a run, you will have seen them bobbing left and right, up and down, mentally running the course in their minds, and to some extend with the rest of their bodies. They are preparing themselves for success.
I like to do the same thing. What motions do I need to do right at the beginning of the service? Listen for the countdown, fire the first snapshot with right hand, pull out my IEM with right hand, check levels, fire the song snapshot with right hand, check the mix, stop music playback with left hand, mix the service. How do I work through transitions? I visualize it so when I get there it’s not a surprise. Sometimes I change things to make it easier to hit all the marks.
It looks weird, but when I do it, I can nail the transitions. When I don’t, well, we have what we had this weekend.
Clear Your Head
It can be hard when people come into the booth and want to chat—and by the way, stopping by the tech booth 3 minutes before service starts is really hard on the tech team—but I like to clear my head and focus on the task at hand. Forget about the Facebook argument. Forget about dinner plans. Forget worrying about whether the dog peed on the carpet while we were at church. Think about what I’m going to do next. What’s the mood of the service? How full is the room? Do I need to bump the master up or down? Zone in on the task at hand, and stay focused.
That’s really hard to do as people are dropping by to say hi. But you have to discipline yourself to smile, nod your head and get back to focus.
Do What Works For You
You probably don’t need to do my process. But you should have a process you go through before the start of the service. Figure out what steps you need to take, and what you need to do and how long it will take and make sure you follow the process. It’s easy, especially by the time you get to the last service, to slack off the process and assume everything will just work. Don’t do it! Stick with the process. And if someone asks you to dump their coffee at 4 min to service start, set the cup down safely away from any expensive electronics and get back to process. You can thank me later. Have a great weekend!