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Service Planning, Technically Speaking

Service Planning, Technically Speaking

Creating an input sheet using Excel, Numbers, Word, or Pages, will help you and your audio team know where things are laid out on the stage, but also on patch bays.

One of the best ways to have a great service or event is to plan every aspect of it ahead of time. This includes all the technical aspects, preparing for both the actual service and any rehearsals that may precede it.

I can't tell you how many events I have been to that felt like they were cobbled together and where everyone seemed to be running the event flying by the seat of their pants.

Great events require great and thorough planning.

Not only do such great events go off well, but also their planning beforehand lowers the stress level and increases the credibility level of both the talent and the technical staff. It also increases the chance that you and your team will actually have fun doing what we all love to do.

Get Out Ahead of It and Master Plan

Not really knowing what is going on is the worst way to do any event, so get as much information as possible. As early as possible. If you can do a month in advance meeting and get an overview of February in January, that is great. It gives you time to ask great questions and also helps you with team scheduling.

Great events require great and thorough planning.

The level of difficulty on any given weekend may dictate which staff or volunteer members are needed at which positions. Having time to make sure you can schedule them is very helpful. This will also give you the chance to build sets or rent gear as needed, especially for big weekends like Christmas and Easter.

Have a Weekly Meeting

Having a meeting one or two days before the event with all the leaders to nail down the final service plan is integral. This is everything from instrumentation to vocalists to soloists, and hopefully service order.

Making Services and Events Easier With Planning Center Online

If you serve in a church and don't use Planning Center Online, you are missing out. PCO is a web-based scheduling service. It organizes everything from the service order, to who is doing what and when. It can be edited on the fly and can be live to track times. It also helps with music licensing fees to CCLI as well as sending emails to all involved with the service. It has a web interface and apps for all smart mobile devices. There is a cost, but it is scalable based on the size of your church. Check it out here.

Build a Stage-plot

A stage-plot can be as easy as a pencil drawing on a legal pad or as complex as a scale design in Sketch-Up. As long as it is clear and your setup team can follow it, it really doesn't matter. There are apps that will help you like Stage Plot Guru for iOS or Stage Plot Pro as well.

The important thing is, know where things are going to go on the stage before you set up. This will also give you a chance to discuss this with your worship pastor/leader or music director. Making changes when it's on paper is a lot easier than five minutes before rehearsal.

Build an Audio Input Sheet

Whether in Excel, Numbers, Word, or Pages, an input sheet will help you and your audio team know where things are not only laid out on the stage, but also on patch bays (analog or digital) and on the sound console. You can find template files here.

If your system is complicated, this will keep everything clear and organized. It also sets a standard for each week and event.

Inform Your Leads

If only the TD knows what is happening, the service can still be a disaster. Inform all the major players as to what is happening in the service. The light designer/ operator, video director, song words operator and audio mixer should all have a heads up on what will be happening in the service before the rehearsal starts. This give them time to be as prepared as possible and ask questions you may not think of or even know the answer to. It also makes them part of the team. People like to be in the know.

Know the Material

If you can, have your team listen to the music that will be in the service. The best services happen because the tech team knows the material as well as the musicians and singers do. Every beat needs to be anticipated not only by those on stage, but those in the booth.

It is also a confidence booster to know the material beforehand. No one likes surprises.

Final thoughts

Go over the service plan.

Then go over it again.

Then go over it again, you get the idea.

Try and think everything through as much as you can. I am not talking about obsessing over things to the point of losing sleep, but thinking through as many scenarios of what will and could happen, will make the actual event run much smoother. Being organized and ready will help your team to be awesome and have fun doing it.

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