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Using visual images and technology in a church context

This is a very basic guide at using software such as Powerpoint in a church / worship context. This focuses on the creation of the presentation, more than on using a video projector or laptop.

This was a simple session designed by a youth worker (Ben L) and given as a session to a group of young people. It is basic but concise.

Take note that for presentations in churches, we no longer recommend Powerpoint unless you're desperate. For words etc, we recommend products like Pro Presenter (Mac and PC) and Easy Worship (PC).

Advice

At myfishbites we are used to using fairly high end visual software and technology. However, we are on hand to help you if needed with your needs and requirements. Feel free to get hold of us using the 'contact' page.

Why bother?

The most important reason for using visuals in church is to help people in their worship of God. If visuals or technology get in the way of worship, we should not use them.

The good and bad of using visuals..

Possible disadvantages:

Difficulty: The more advanced the technology used, or the more complex the visuals being shown, the greater the possibilit of something going wrong. Always have a back-up!

Audience: Not everyone may be able to see the words of the presentation clearly, especially if there is a background image. Provide large-print paper copies of the songs too.

Time: Producing a presentation involves, typing, formatting, testing, editing, reformatting and more testing. This can take much longer than expected; don’t leave this until the last minute!

Possible advantages:

Focus: Can help the congregation to focus on the words of the song

Flexibility: The slides of a presentation can be edited, moved or deleted very quickly to fit in with how the worship band wants to play the song.

Convenience: One Powerpoint presentation can take the place of many overhead transparencies that some churches still use.

Images

  • Images can give a focus to the slide and help the congregation focus on the theme of the song
  • An image must not become the centre of the attention, the words of the song are more important
  • The image should be ‘neutral’ or relate to the theme, a ‘random’ image can lead people away from focusing on God
  • A background image should not contain words
  • The colour tone of the image can, usually, be altered to emphasise the text. This is particularly important if the words are over the image. The trick is to take out distracting colours. Another hint is to 'soften' the image or blur the image. That way, the clarity of the text stands out over the blurred image.
  • The colour of the text should be appropriate given the colour of the image

The DOs and DON’Ts of using visuals

  • DO think about the colours you use
  • DON’T have too many words per slide
  • DO think about the font type (serif or sans serif? Very basically, a serif font (or 'typeface') have the fancy bits on them such as Times New Roman, serif is a font like Verdana or Arial)
  • DO think about the font size. (Generally the font should be at least 24pt, but 32pt or even 36pt may be more appropriate – think about the ‘audience’).
  • DON’T write all words in capital letters (This actually makes the words harder to read)
  • DO consider the pros and cons of using an image in your slides, will it provide a useful focus or will it distract people?
  • DO be sensitive!

It’s very important to choose images that are appropriate to the part of the service in which they are being used. Sometimes an image which we think may look good in a song presentation may be more appropriate as part of a ‘visual prayer’ slot during the service.

During these prayer times you may want to have a presentation of images relating to the issues being prayed for, e.g. images of poor people in Africa could have been used during prayers for the recent G8 summit.

Sounds

As part of your presentation, you may wish to include a sound, to add emphasis, or a song from a CD which can be played during the showing of the slides. It is possible to save the CD track to the hard drive of your computer so that the CD itself is not required. Powerpoint allows you to specify the length of the song clip, its volume and how many slides the clip lasts for.

Timings

Another feature of Powerpoint is ‘timings’. This allows you to preset how long a slide is shown for before the next slide is displayed. A more complex feature allows you to set precise timings for each individual slide.

A word of warning! In theory, a clever tactic is to combine sounds and timings so that as the CD plays the slides change automatically in time with the words. This is relatively easy to set up but during playback it is possible for everything to fall out of sync.

Make sure you link the re-link a media (video or audio) file when moving a Powerpoint from one computer to another. So, if you're triggering an mp3 clip from a Powerpoint, the host computer needs both the Powerpoint file and the mp3 file on it, and they need to be re-connected.

Hope this has been kind of useful. The key is to be sensitive and be creative. Have fun!!!

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