by Greg Hanson
More and more churches are moving away from the use of hymnals or chorus books in favor of projecting lyrics on a screen or wall. While this transition has been relatively painless in the most cases (there have been a few exceptions among traditionalists), it is necessary for worship leaders and/or church PowerPoint designers to address certain issues that will help facilitate the changeover.
1. Stick to simple fonts.
Your computer is probably loaded with a multitude of stylized fonts. These fonts can be useful for titles and for graphics, but they are more difficult to read than the basic sans-serif fonts such as Arial, Helvetica, or Verdana. To keep the lyrics legible and to minimize the frustration of the worshipper, limit yourself to the use of 2-3 basic fonts. You can likely get away with simple serifs as with Times New Roman, but steer clear of overly decorated fonts. Especially of you intend to transfer your PowerPoint file from one computer to another, use only fonts that are present across most systems.
2. Make the font big enough.
The font size you choose must allow the lyrics to be easily read from the back of the room. Usually, this requires a minimum size of 44pt. Settle on a size that can be maintained throughout the presentation rather than applying drastically different sizes from slide to slide.
3. Choose contrasting colors for the background and the lyrics.
White or yellow lyrics show up well against a dark blue or black background. Whatever color scheme you choose, make sure the colors contrast enough to make the lyrics readable. The same rule applies if you use an image as the slide background. If the image prevents the lyrics from being easily read, it may be necessary to adjust the brightness or layer a semi-transparent box between the image and the lyrics. Applying a shadow to the lyrics can also help with this.
4. Observe natural breaks in the lyrics.
If possible, put the entire verse on one slide. Observe the same rule for the chorus or bridge. If doing so would require more than six lines of text, consider spreading the lyrics over two slides. However, try not to insert the break in the middle of a sentence or musical phrase. Rather, add it where there is a natural breath in the lyrics and the music.
5. Arrange the slides in order.
If you always sing a particular song the same way (such as verse 1, chorus, verse 2, chorus, bridge, chorus twice), why not put the slides in that order in your presentation? This will minimize if not completely eliminate the need for the PowerPoint operator to jump around throughout the presentation. This does not mean that the worship leader can never deviate to "go with the flow" or "as the Spirit leads", but many potential problems can be prevented by simply arranging the slides as they are likely to be used.
6. Avoid using distracting transitions.
PowerPoint, Keynote, and other presentation software packages include lots of bells and whistles, particularly when it comes to animations and slide transitions. Avoid the temptation to excessively exercise these options. Instead, keep the transition from slide to slide simple. Most of the time, there is no need to apply any transition at all. If you must, though, stick to a simple fade or dissolve.
7. Make use of interludes.
If you have a musical interlude planned during your worship set, how about inserting a slide containing a relevant verse of scripture or a graphic in your presentation? You can use the opportunity to enhance the message of the song or the theme of the service.
8. Add definitions for unfamiliar or theological terms.
The "seeker sensitive" movement of the past couple of decades has forced churches to evaluate how clearly they are communicating the Christian message. The point has not been to water down the message but to make it understandable. If the lyrics to a particular song contain confusing terms or concepts, it does not mean you can never use the song. Instead, you can help the people in the congregation—from the newest seeker to the most seasoned believer—grow in their understand by incorporating definitions or explanations across the bottom of the relevant slides.
9. Train the operator.
Advancing through a well organized presentation is a simple process. Even a child can operate it, as long as he or she can read and follow along on the screen. It is essential, however, the the operator knows the buttons or keys to use. Also, he or she should be instructed to advance to the next slide while the congregation is still singing the last few words of the current slide. Otherwise, there may be some anxious moments as the congregation is unsure of what or when to sing. Additionally, be certain to provide any needed instructions in advance pertaining to special elements in the worship service.
Presentation software has allowed churches to regularly introduce new songs without the expense of purchasing new books. It has also allowed worshippers to get their faces out of hymnals, free up their arms, and adopt postures more conducive to worship. By applying the above rules to your worship presentations, you can further enhance their worship experience.
© 2012 Greg Hanson / PowerPointPastors.com