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Communicating Clearly with Your Technical Production Staff

Communicating Clearly with Your Technical Production Staff

As a self-professed "techie," I have learned to filter my words and communicate in a language that the non-technical person will understand. As a person who helps keep the building functioning, you're probably one of those non-techie people who have to work with techies on a regular basis at your church. Do you feel that you're just not seeing eye-to-eye with this technical "know-it-all"? We're all on the same team, but sometimes this perceived language barrier can cause frustration and even a few hard feelings.

I'd like to help you communicate clearly with the technically gifted at your church by giving you some strategic advice on translating the vocabulary and nuance of the techie. To successfully navigate this article, I've decoded the real meaning of "the response" so you may better understand the techie language.

We Can't Do That
When a techie responds this way to a request, the answer usually doesn't mean that something is physically impossible. Instead, the answer is a rebuff to what the techie perceives as an unreasonable question. There are two ways to deal with this kind of response. The first is to phrase the request/question so that the techie is provided an opportunity to problem-solve a technical solution.

For example, if the request is "Pastor wants to show a commercial on this coming Sunday to illustrate a point in his sermon," the techie will have the easy answer of, "we can't do that." The real answer is that it would be a copyright violation without first getting permission, which normally takes a matter of days or even weeks to obtain.

Instead, if the request was phrased "How can we show this commercial in Pastor's sermon this coming Sunday?" The techie can respond with, "I'll have to check on copyright permissions and get back to you within 24 hours to see if that's possible."

Another common example has to do with the physical or technical difficulty of the request. "Pastor wants you to make a video of him sliding in on a zip line from the balcony to the stage," may very well be met with, "we can't do that." Again, asking the techie, "how can we make a video that looks like Pastor sliding in from the balcony to the stage on a zip line,," will not pin him in the corner with what he perceives as an unreasonable request. His or her answer might be, "well, we can fake that with a green screen effectsort of like the weatherman on TV over a map."

We Don't Have Enough Time
This techie response is probably very true, considering that most people don't understand the significant amount of time is takes to produce compelling media. But again, when the techie is given a chance to problem-solve and creatively come up with a solution, the results can be outstanding.

I had this very situation come up several years ago when my media team was asked to come up with a volunteer recruitment video for twelve preschool teachers. The preschool director suggested a bunch of testimonial videos be shot and edited showing how the current volunteers loved on the little children. That kind of project would have taken days of shooting and editing which we didn't have. Instead, I offered to make a David Letterman style "run-out" (where the host leaves the studio with a camera person in tow and is seen interacting elsewhere live' by the audience) video with the senior pastor. After only 95-minutes of planning, shooting and editing, we had a hysterical and very effective run-out video that was played when the pastor literally ran out the back door of the auditorium at the start of his message. The net result, by the way, was 72 new volunteers.

I Can't Do That Right Now
Hyper focus is a common trait with many technical people. We have a tendency to become so absorbed in a project that we lose all track of time. So when you make even a simple request you're often told, "I can't do that right now." Now this resolution is a bit tricky. Unless you have authority over the techie then getting them to peel away from their current project can be difficult. An excellent way to gain their attention and favor is by offering to help them out.

If you need a simple technical solution on a regular basis, offer to have the techie train you or another person who can follow instructions well; this way the techie doesn't have to leave a project to do "yet another menial task." There are two advantages to this approach: 1) you will gain favor with the techie for offering to help them out; and 2) you will be able to learn how to accomplish simple technical tasks, which not only makes you more valuable, but also allows the techie to stay focused and see their current project through to completion.

These are only a few of the codified answers that a techie will give as a sort of defense to their time and territory. By taking the time to learn about the mind of your church techies, you'll be in a better position to gain trust, respect and get the results you need.

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