What You See Is What You Get
By: Branon Dempsey
The majority of worship services across our country are projecting lyrics on a screen. Whether by PowerPoint or Lyric-Based Software Programs, we've come a long way since the days of the overhead, hymnal and scroll. I remember replacing those damaged transparencies and markers weekly. Some may remember being damaged by working in a transparency shop! But, like the days of old, you may not be surprised of what hasn't changed: human error.
How we prepare and manage our lyrics on display can either make or break a worship service and/or moment. Rather than learning what to select or purchase in finding the right lyric projecting software, this article is fixed on its operator and logistics in designing a conducive service for presenting our words of worship.
The Media and A/V Team Ministry is one of the most critical teams responsible for producing clear and effective communication involving media content. The two main goals of this team are: to aid the leading of worship by making use of both sight and sound, and to enable the leaders lead effectively.
Top 10 List for Presentations
Now this may not be you, but I've heard of teams that compose their presentations the night before or the day of. As Shaggy would say: YIKES! Sloppy graphics, small font size, obscure color contrasts, missing verses, and misspellings all have their sins (and payment).
Here's my Top 10 List for creating easy presentations. Not only have they proven to increase service participation, but they have also improved the operation of my team.
1. Prepare and Organize
Just do it. Have a central location saved in one place in individual directories to retrieve all sermon notes, songs, announcements, and backgrounds/graphics. Prepare during your week to retrieve all data. List important notes and ideas. Plan ahead as you bring everything into the picture in drafting your slides.
Begin your first proofreading and spell check now, before you begin your slide sequence. In composing each entry of slides, follow the service order accordingly. Ask questions (now) to speaking pastors/worship leaders to clarify issues. Do not wait until just before the service. You want to think of yourself as the producer of the presentation.
Insert each slide in plain text form before selecting font styles and graphics. I work with a Text Editor like Note Pad (PC) or TextEdit (Mac). Copying plain text from one of these programs into your projection software will help prevent copying other code like inconsistent font styles, size, or even html – if you're copying from a webpage (hope not!). After completing your entire presentation, then go back and either globally or by group select your font specifications.
3. Display Compatibility
Just because it may look good on your computer, doesn't mean it will look as good or better on a big screen. Yes, I know it looks very cool or even darling, but your computer screen will always look richer 1 foot away versus 30-300 feet away. Your presentation will always look different, if not lighter and fainter than your PC.
Because a projector is built differently and has a longer throw, your lumenation, brightness, and color will change, especially by the distance and arrangement of where people are sitting in the room. A rule of thumb I stick by is to estimate that I'm going to lose 30% (depending on your projector quality and age) of brightness and contrast. Make your adjustments of colors, graphics, and fonts accordingly.
4. Back in Black
You can never go wrong with using light fonts against dark backgrounds. Most people can recognize contrast faster than they can words themselves. I've seem some presentations with white backgrounds and black text. This creates a wash-out effect and is not visibly clear. Also, you have to account for stage lighting and/or windows that can also subtract the luminance from your beautiful artwork.
5. Font Selection
Simplicity is key when projecting words. Fonts such as Arial, Arial Black, Verdana, Tahoma and the like are very easy to read on screen. Others can be too thin or obscure. These fonts are universal from computer to computer for compatibility issues. It's a tough road when you compose your presentation from on PC and it displays weird on another. Also, these fonts are lightweight to save in using them as the main content of your presentation.
6. Size Matters
Ever looked at a screen and found yourself squinting to see the words? Again, you have to keep in mind that your computer screen is obsolete in comparison to the big screen. Depending on how big the screen or room is, I use a 40 point standard. This size is pretty much average for most screens and rooms. Too big and it's too much, too small and it's a nuisance.
7. Line Please
For songs and Scriptures, try shooting for a standard of no more than six lines per slide. If you're using 40 font in Arial, there should be no visible issues, unless someone is physically blocking your view. Less really is more.
Like how our music should be, the congregation is going to connect with the words, not the slick production. I've seen some presentations where they've tried to fit the entire song into one slide. Really? Is this trying to save you work, or trying to save the people some grief?
8. Backgrounds and Graphics
Again, less is more. Just remember, the more eye candy you have going on, the more people's attention will be distracted from the words. It's great to have a waterfall, sunset, or mountain. Just make sure you're not trying to contain all of Genesis 1 and the local zoo into one slide or presentation. Pick one theme and stick with it. Continuity is everything.
Graphics, background, animation, videos, photos and the kitchen sink, all have their place, but maybe not all in the same place. I once heard a media professor say, "I'd rather have boring black screens and white font over busy and slick graphics that distract the words." A good presentation will draw people into the experience, not make them run away. Keep it simple.
9. Songs by the Line
Make each line consistent with the lyric's phrasing and section of each song. In other words, don't break the phrase of the song into a separate line. It's best to place the lyrics in lines that match how the congregation would sing them. Try singing the song in how you place each line together:
10. Proof and Re-Proof
Complete your presentation by spell check and human spell check. Watch for words like "their" when you meant to say "there." In my early worship leading days, I made the mistake of typing "prostate" instead of "prostrate" in the hymn "All Hail the Power of Jesus Name." Trust me, it doesn't work the same. Always, always, always have an extra pair of eyes to confirm the flow, content, and word layouts. As a third person, I find it extremely helpful to have the worship leader perform a final proof.
Above all, whether sung, prayed or heard, people really do focus on the words during worship. There is no doubt that worship services have their own distractions and interruptions. Our job in delivering lyric and word projections must serve God and the worshipper.
In our attempts to connect with the congregation and God, how we compose and display our words of worship will have either a lasting positive impact or a not-so positive quick trip to the emergency room. Our presentations and technology may be the coolest, but if our words are empty, we are only a clanging cymbal.
Branon Dempsey is the chief executive officer/founder and training director of Worship Team Training, a ministry providing live workshops and online resources for local worship ministries, www.worshipteamtraining.com.