Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Three Principles To Handle Technical Glitches

I wrote this about a year, year and a half ago for an electronic church-tech newsletter.

When working with electronic technology and human resource it is inevitable a ‘glitch’ will arise. I have found three principles to help handle those glitches…

Something I have seen and also realized through my own past experiences is there is often a lack of relationship between the tech and worship leadership. While we may have known each other, and even served with each other over a number of years, we did not have a relationship. This lack of relationship often resulted in miscommunications and “glitches” that could have been avoided long before the service ever started had we worked on communicating and developing a better working relationship. As the Technical Director, I now make sure that I have a solid relationship with my boss (the worship pastor or the person who oversees the worship experience) and I strive to know their heart, feel their passion, and share their vision. I also work toward developing and maintaining an open line of communication with that person.

That open line of communication allows me to ask questions in preproduction that helps me to understand the vision for the service. It allows them to share how they want to use different elements to accomplish that vision and for us to discuss the best way to technically achieve those elements. This open line of communication also allows me to explain why I need certain info by certain times or why we may not be able to execute an element. Being a part of planning meetings or conversations before the service gets us all closer to realizing the vision.

Having that solid relationship allows us both to freely communicate (not yell or shout) when things seem to unravel, without worrying about hurting each other’s feelings or stepping on the other’s toes. In the heat of the moment while trying to ‘get it right’ we may not have enough time to be cordial and polite but simply be direct. We know that it’s not personal as we are working toward the same vision

Post service communication also needs to be open and honest, first by addressing any of those ‘discussions’ that occurred in the heat of the moment and then by open and honest evaluation of how things were pulled off technically and on the performance side. This communication happens best when done in a healthy environment with healthy relationships amongst staff and volunteers.

Vision is the number one thing that is often NOT communicated when sharing the details of the service or technical needs - Vision for the worship experience, vision for why a song or video is being used, and vision for how the lights are going to be implemented. As a leader for the technical team it is my job to cascade that vision to the team. If I’m unsure about what that vision is, then I need to capture it from my worship leader or pastor. While we ultimately do this to serve and give back to God, we have also been put in our position to serve our pastor, worship leader and congregation. I often tell my FOH guys to remember who their client is. They are there to serve at the pleasure of the worship leader and pastor. In other words it’s not ‘their mix’. There is nothing more frustrating for staff and volunteers than to think they are heading in the same direction but then come to find out what they thought was wanted, or what they were trying to achieve was not what the pastor or worship leader was looking for. Shared vision and expectation helps to alleviate this huge frustration for both sides

It is branded into my memory. The look of this man in the middle of rehearsal standing on stage yelling up to the balcony telling us…ummmm, loudly and angrily reminding us….that we had a light cue at the last measure…and we missed it!

That is a constant reminder for me of how I will always respond to people when they make a mistake, whether with technology or behind the microphone. I have found in my short life span that no one is perfect…including me and my worship pastor! Because of that I know that mistakes will happen. We do our best to plan, prepare and double check that and have back up plans in case it all fails. We also extend grace to each other and our volunteers and use these ‘glitches’ and mistakes as opportunities to grow both in relationship and skill level.

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