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Joyful Communication with Your Techs - Part 1

Tips on how to effectively engage your technical staff for a stress-free service.

So, have you ever been frustrated in trying to talk to your tech team? I know, it's probably hard to imagine. But just in case you find yourself in such a position someday, let's discuss some communication strategies.

First, about the worst time to have a discussion with your tech people is when a service or event is under way or about to start. Unlike the worship team or the teaching pastor, your tech people generally don't have much time to get their head around what's going on in the service.

The teaching pastor usually writes their message and prepares several days in advance; the worship team has been practicing the songs all week individually if not as a team; the tech team doesn't get practice time except for what happens right before the service (they don't have a PA system and band at home to practice on). So, the stress levels are usually high for the techs. They are trying to get their head around the service order (because especially on sound, you don't have time to be reading through notes while mixing), what they picked up on during the rehearsal, and what they need to remember to do at key points throughout the service.

Just because they may have been told what's going to happen, if they've been running tech for any amount of time, they know that all bets are off once the service or event starts.

For example, at a funeral I handled tech for, I was told that as the family started entering the sanctuary, the pianist would stop playing, and I was to play a song via the media computer that the family requested for that part of the funeral.

First issue was the audio file format wasn't compatible with what we use to run our media for services and events, so I needed to come up with a way to play it—without having Windows Media player popping up on the screen in front of the funeral (amongst other related issues).

Then when the family started walking in, the pianist didn't stop playing. There's no one to consult with when you're back in the booth, so now instead of thinking about the next few things that I was supposed to do, I'm trying to figure out what to do about the song. As techs we're bracing for this, and discussions about other things or having last-minute requests thrown at us takes our heads out of the game and increases the stress level.

Yes, sometimes there's an issue that needs to be addressed right then. But if it can wait, the proper time for discussions about technical issues is

  1. At another time outside of when the service is happening.
  2. Quietly and away from the heat of the moment.
  3. In a relaxed environment, like over a cup of coffee.

Communication should also be a norm, not merely something that happens when there's an issue. We'll talk about that more next time.

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