As I hang out backstage with our different volunteers, I can see that everyone has a different way of preparing. Some methods work better than others and some people are more prepared than others.
I hate it when a communicator is not prepared. It always shows and is such a wasted opportunity. If you’re going to communicate to kids, give it your best! Be prepared. The message is too important to just wing it!
Here’s how I prepare to communicate to kids:
- I receive the script early in the week and I read it through to get a good sense for what I will be doing and how difficult it will be to memorize or prepare. This lets me know how much preparation time I need to schedule into the week.
- Two or three days before Sunday, I read the script several times and work on the drama, the pacing, the use of props, and transitions. I practice how I want to deliver the script.
- On the day before, I start memorizing for real. I write the bottom line for the script at the top of a piece of paper and then I write simple statements that help me break the script into segments so that I teach to certain transitions. This is easier for me than memorizing the script as a whole. Each point represents a paragraph or two of the script that I am memorizing. The statements are triggers for me and help me to map out where I’m going with the story and know the flow as I memorize.
Here’s an example of my notes from a few weeks ago:
BL: We should celebrate that Jesus is born!
1. Transition from Never Ending Story opening video to God always had a plan.
2. Shepherds were taking care of their sheep.
3. Angels appeared & they were terrified.
4. Angles told them where they would find Jesus, wrapped in a cloth & lying in a manger.
5. Host of angels join – celebrating that Jesus is born.
6. Shepherds go and find Jesus.
7. Shepherds tell EVERYONE that Jesus is born.
8. Shepherds celebrate.
9. God kept his promise. He sent a Savior.
10. We should celebrate that Jesus is born – build to Celebrate Song
(worship team comes out)
- Arrive early and practice on the stage with the props. I’ve found several times that I misunderstood the prop or needed to work through where I would stand or where lighting cues would be. I practice several times without my script.
- I keep practicing until I go on. I’m not great at memorizing so I have to keep the script in my short term-memory until right before I go up!
There is nothing more frustrating than knowing that we’ve wasted an opportunity to communicate a clear and engaging message to our kids. Nobody does a perfect job, but preparation will carry you a long way towards creating an excellent experience.