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Posted on Sep 13, 2013 in Resources, Worship Ministry | 6 comments

Why You Can’t Afford to Neglect Your Presentation Anymore, Part 2

Presentation matters. Why is it you can spot a wedding party from a mile away? Because they’re decked out in the finest fashion. People pay for it, people are impressed by it, people are drawn to it.


I’ve seen a lot of worship ministries that strive for excellence in their musical presentation but the lyric presentation is AWFUL! Words unreadable, images blurry with copyright info all over it, off-centered, gawdy video loops, ugly fonts…all this communicates, “we don’t care if you sing along or not, we’re just here for us.”

If you truly value and prioritize the church’s song, prove it! How to present excellence is the million-dollar question and I’ve broken this into 2 posts:  The first discussed software choices. Now let’s talk tips and tricks for creating an excellent presentation.



  • First, be really picky about your backgroundPlain black would be better than 90% of the worship background video loops that are being peddled to you.
  • In a video, you’re looking for loops that aren’t herky-jerky, that are at least 480p resolution, that won’t compete with the words (by having to light of colors, stark contrast, or just too much going on). Here are some examples though, honestly, all of these are much better than a lot of what you run across out there (these also happen to be free downloads!!!):

Good: See how the motions, though relatively quick-paced, are subtle and there’s no bright contrast to compete with the lyrics?

Not as Good: This one has these bright lights that appear abruptly and serve as both a distraction and as a lyric obliterator!

Good: This has a nice texture and the brightest light is at the very top, above where your lyrics would typically be placed.

Not as Good: This is an example of the “herky-jerky” thing I was talking about. That’s going to distract some people.  Think smooth like butter!

  • In a still, the issues I mentioned for videos (especially of light colors, stark contrasts and too much going on) are magnified because there’s no movement to cover the flaws or give better glimpses of the lyrics. Also, be sure it’s at least 640×480 resolution and doesn’t have copyright/watermark on it. Here are some examples (also happen to be free downloads!!!):

I've reached the end of the world

Good: Not only is this a striking image, it’s blue enough that white texts stands out great. I’ve used this for Hillsong’s “Like an Avalanche” before.



Not so Good: Just don’t settle for a less-than-great photo. And snow-capped mountains might be nice but folks will be squinting to make out your white letters.

  • In short, you’re looking for irresistible so be patient. This is why I never pay a bunch of money (as if I had it) for the sites that offer “Access to 1,000’s of Quality Backgrounds”…their idea of quality is always bunk.



  • As a general rule, your text should be centered perfectly and in the same exact spot on every slide of the song.  Don’t eyeball it. Every good presentation software offers tools to get it right.
  • Each song should use the same font, same size, same style on every slide.
  • Avoid punctuation at the end of lines.
  • Capitalize the start of every line.
  • Don’t let a line overflow. For example, if the lyric “The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning” doesn’t all fit on one line, either shrink the font slightly (on all slides of the song) or break it into two lines: “The sun comes up / It’s a new day dawning”.
  • If you import lyrics from a service like SongSelect, be sure to delete random text like “BRIDGE” and soften the “REPEATS” to be a gentle, non-bold, all lower-case, in parentheses “(repeat)”.
  • Use a shadow to help compensate for any bright spots in the background. In ProPresenter, I use a black shadow, 135 degree angle, 5.0 length, 14.0 radius. In PowerPoint, I actually prefer the Glow effect to the Shadow. Set it to black, size up to 18 point, and transparency at 60%.
  • A year ago, I would’ve said to only use sans serif fonts (that don’t have the small projecting features called “serifs” at the end of each stroke).  This is still a good bet. Two I love to use are Calibri (which comes as default on most recent versions of Microsoft Office products) and Myriad (think of the clean, contemporary look of Apple’s advertising text).
  • These days, I believe quality serif fonts are making a come back and can add character. I’ve started sprinkling them in on some songs. Especially, against very plain or black backgrounds. Don’t use tired old Times. I’m really liking Adobe Caslon Pro.

Did I miss any tips? Fill in the gaps!


  1. Good stuff – a lot of which I wish I’d known when I started, instead of having to learn by trial and error. We offer a contemporary service and a traditional service – and for the most part, the traditional service attracts a much older demographic. So, I need to pay a LOT of attention to readability. Things that are perfectly fine in the younger service will lead to complaints in the second, and I can’t really blame them. As much as I like to think of myself as an “artist” from time to time, it’s important for me to remember that the message is the focus – and if they can’t read it, it doesn’t matter how pretty it is.

    All that said, I tend to use nice, thick fonts, usually with both an outline and a drop shadow. I also used to tighten the space between letters a lot – I really like the effect when they overlap. However, I’ve learned (the hard way) that’s a big problem for people with poor vision.

    As far as backgrounds, of course when I started, I was all about motion backgrounds. I knew enough to avoid the completely insane ones, but I was busy switching backgrounds and colors constantly – and it got worse once I realized ProPresenter could fade video loops in and out during songs. These days, though, I use a lot of stills and a few subtle motions dropped in – Shift Worship puts out a solid line of stills and motions, often involving the same image. Their pre-made slides aren’t always incredibly readable, but I’d rather add the text myself, anyway.

    Again, great stuff – I wish I’d had access to this two years ago!

    • I so appreciate hearing from leaders who have chosen to make congregational participation the priority over the cool-factor! Thanks for sharing the great ideas and resources.

      Yes, it’s too bad so many of us have had to learn the hard (and slow) way!

      Thanks again, Bryan.

  2. I don’t know if I agree with the idea that you can use Serif fonts now. It’s still harder to read them on a screen and sing along, but this is really really good stuff. Thanks.

    • Thanks for the discussion and kind words, Peter!

      And you’re right. I’ve definitely been using them sparingly and only on plain black or really dark/simple backgrounds. I actually got the idea from All Sons & Daughters (i.e. …isn’t there lyric presentation nice?).

      The other day I had a song that I really didn’t want a background for. Just white words on a black background…kind of a “I’m coming back to the heart of worship” stripped back sort of feel. Changing to a nice serif helped keep it simple without seeming too plain. If that makes sense!! :)

  3. May i know what software/program has background video?? Cant find the right one… recommendations please…


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