Improving Your Projected Song Lyrics – Part 3
In the last two posts on improving your projected song lyrics (part one; part two), I dealt with many design issues. Today, we will look at the operation of the slide show.
Timing of the Slides
It is of utmost importance for the person running the presentation to always be very aware of what is happening in worship. When it comes to displaying lyrics, it is crucial that the slides are changed BEFORE the words are to be sung. I often see operators trying to time the words such that they appear on screen just as they are to be sung. If they appear at that moment or any later, they are TOO LATE. Singers must see the words BEFORE they need to sing them. If the song is moving along at a fast tempo, you will need to move to the next slide before the current slide is completed. Note that people are always reading ahead, and they have to do this in order to sing the correct word on time.
What works best is for the operator to be thoroughly knowledgeable of the song so that words don’t appear too early, for instance during an instrumental bridge, but that they never appear “just on time” or late. If you notice people in the congregation continually stumbling on or not singing the first words of slides, you should know that you are changing the slide too late. Always err toward being too early–too late is not acceptable.
Don’t get cutesy with the transitions between slides. Just because PowerPoint or other presentation software can make spectacular Star Wars-like special effect transitions doesn’t mean you should use them in worship. Here’s an example of a bad presentation:
Stick with quick fade-type transitions set to no more than 0.5 seconds. The fade time may have to be adjusted down for really fast songs or may be adjusted up some for really slow songs. Realize that the fade time should be taken into consideration when timing your slide changes since the transition adds time to the change. Here is a much better example of transitions between slides using a simple fade:
Add a Final Slide
If you are using PowerPoint for your presentations, always include a final blank slide. This will provide a cushion, preventing your slide show from inadvertently exiting if the operator advances the slide beyond the final slide that is actually needed. Depending upon how you run your monitors, the exiting of the program can be quite embarrassing as well as distracting if your desktop with the PowerPoint program suddenly appears on screen.
Here’s what I mean about a potentially embarrassing situation:
Single or Dual Monitors
I suggest you run your presentation software in dual monitor mode. You will need to set this up in your computer setup as well as the slide show set up in PowerPoint. Let your desktop extend to the second monitor–do not select mirror displays. This way you can use the presenter view to control your presentation, and you will have much better control of what actually appears on the main screen.
Great article. I have been looking for something on this subject to help our video presenters in our worship service. Seems like they’re waiting for the last words to complete before they switch to the next slide. It creates real confusion in our service. This will allow me to start the subject without sounding critical. Appreciate the article.
PS – Logos Bible Software has just released Proclaim that seems to be doing a lot that PowerPoint was doing well for us … and it sets the songs up much faster.
I would love to see a projected lyrics article with some advice about backgrounds, such as discussing the use of video backgrounds vs static images.
How plain is too plain? How busy is too busy? I’ve also seen low resolution pictures used as backgrounds and it is very distracting.
Is it ok to go on the internet and download images to use as backgrounds without permission?
Also, should you choose different backgrounds on a per-song basis, or should you opt for consistancy throughout an entire service?
Adam, did you ever find an article addressing these issues? I am also interested in learning about these things.
Dual monitor mode is the only way to go, but I’d take it a step further than that.
If you’re currently using PowerPoint, do your church a huge favor and invest in a quality program like ProPresenter or MediaShout that is designed for worship situations. PowerPoint was designed with a business boardroom in mind.
With MediaShout, if someone brings you a PowerPoint presentation, you can usually pull that into your timeline. It likes to move fonts to left justified after I’ve centered them, though. We used it for a couple of years before we learned about ProPresenter.
ProPresenter is much easier to use when it comes to the most intensive task of worship presentation. I’m speaking of entering new song lyrics. With PowerPoint, MediaShout, and several other programs I’ve tried, each verse must be copied and pasted to its own slide (or typed in from scratch). With ProPresenter, I can import an entire song from the clipboard. It will create slide breaks at each paragraph break. This saves a massive amount of time going back and forth. ProPresenter also allows me to trigger a slide by simply clicking on it, so if the worship leader decides to repeat a chorus, I’m not left hanging. With MediaShout, you have to right click the slide, then hit Play…two steps instead of one.
So for the moment, ProPresenter is my first choice until something better comes along.
I totally agree that PowerPoint leaves MUCH to be desired when used for worship software. Most of this series is applicable to any worship presentation software, but since the majority of churches I encounter are still using PowerPoint, I felt the need to make a few comments about that. I hope to address some of the other solutions in the near future. Thanks for your comments and recommendations!