Speaking at an event is one thing. Teaching a Bible class is another. But when you film content to produce on DVD, it’s a whole new ball game.
I just released my first ever 8-lesson DVD Bible study series in November called Your Strong Suit, based on the Armor of God found in Ephesians 6. The live taping took place last May at my home church.
Over the course of 48 hours, we taped eight, 35-45 minute lessons. Gulp.
Believe me when I say I could hardly put a coherent sentence together after that. It was exhilarating, amazing, and absolutely exhausting.
As an author, you may be requested to put some of your content in video snippets. Or perhaps, like me, you plan on producing a series of some kind. I promise I’m not an expert at this. But I hope that my recent experience offers insight and information that may help you.
So how do you prepare?
First of all, writing to speak is vastly different from writing to print. You have a live audience to keep engaged (and hopefully awake), so injecting humor and stories is essential. So here goes:
1) Forget about the cameras.
I was very thankful the production crew suggested a mini run through the night before our live taping officially started. When I walked in the staging area and saw three large television cameras, my heart started going pitter patter. Actually, it was more like POUND, POUND. One of the cameramen would actually be walking around to catch close up shots and audience reaction. My heart came right out of my chest at that point.
Over the course of the run through, the tech team was incredibly helpful in showing me the stage’s walking parameters to ensure consistent, good lighting. They taught me how to slow down my talking rate to make more impactful statements. But most importantly, they reminded me to take several deep breaths, release the tension in my voice, and speak/connect directly with the audience. Their coaching made all the difference.
2) Know your content so well that you barely need notes.
Nothing is more boring than watching someone read. I cannot stress enough how vital it is to thoroughly prepare. I rehearsed each lesson several times in the weeks leading up the taping so that when that weekend arrived, it wasn’t the first time I taught them (so to speak). We were on a tight schedule and budget. Room for error didn’t exist.
Lesson preparation is essential. We only had 30 minute breaks in between each teaching session and it goes by at lightening speed. After each teaching, I’d head back stage to cool off, hydrate, take a deep breath, sit a minute, go through wardrobe changes/makeup touch-ups, pray, pull out my notes for the next session, read them through, and hit the stage again. If you’re not properly prepared, you won’t make it.
3) Put a team, buffers, and boundaries around you.
I cannot say enough about the team that surrounded me that weekend. My ministry assistant and a score of ministry volunteers handled the live audience registration, meals, and anything else an attendee needed. My stage manager (and best friend) never left my side except during taping time itself. She kept me on time and provided a buffer to handle anything that came up back stage. She handled all the technicalities so I could focus on preparing for the next session.
And then there’s the production team. I just can’t thank God often enough for those amazing professionals. They seamlessly ran the worship times, screen content, sound levels, and coordinated camera shots (both stationary and roaming) of me and the audience to produce a top level series. Joel, the Production Manager, even told jokes to keep the audience awake and laughing in between sessions. The main thing is that they are the professionals. Trust them and their instructions.
I hope you found a few helpful tidbits from my experience. What I learned during that amazing weekend put me on my knees in thankfulness, and taught me invaluable lessons that will play an important role in any future series.
If you’d like to see a 90 second snippet of the final series, click here.
Let’s chat: If you’ve done this type of thing before, what would you add or take away from this list? If you’re hoping to produce DVD content in the future, what did you find most helpful?