by Terry Wilhite
Mr. Preacher, most likely you are expected to perform electronic communication tasks that were unheard of when you were in seminary. Although I majored in broadcast journalism 17 years ago and I've managed a corporate communications department ever since, I can tell you, you're not alone.
What often differentiates the average from the exceptional communicator is that great electronic communicators understand that there are two primary needs to be efficient and effective when using technology. First, you need to find good communications software and stick with it. Secondly, you need to be trained how to use it.
Unfortunately, too many preachers often use second-class software (usually some hand-me-down junk that a church member has discarded from home), or they spend countless dollars over an extended time "experimenting" with a "zillion" pieces of "cheap" software. Further, when it comes to training, preachers, through little fault of their own, often just have to wing it. If you want to be an effective communicator, software training needs to be in your church budget and you need to use proven brands of professional software.
Please don't let the term "professional software" scare you. In reviewing dozens of products, I've often found pro-caliber software to be the easiest of them all to use. A great example is Adobe Audition 1.5, recording software, which is my absolute top recommendation for pastors looking to do a radio or CD ministry. In fact, there's an array of software from this company that I believe will give you all the tools of the nation's best corporate communicators.
When it comes to print software, my pick is Adobe's Creative Suite. That software includes Adobe Photoshop CS, photo correction and manipulation software; Adobe InDesign, a page layout application; Adobe Illustrator, a program that allows you to create drawings or tweak clip art; Adobe Acrobat Professional, which allows you to create and edit PDFs (portable document format). There's a standard and professional suite to choose from. (Standard does not include Adobe GoLive [Web design software] and Acrobat Professional.)
For the best lineup of audio-visual software, in my opinion, stay with the same brand. Adobe's Video Collection includes Adobe Premiere Pro, which is video editing software, Adobe After Effects, special effects software, Adobe Encore, which is DVD creation software, and Adobe Audition, which, as I mentioned, is audio recording and editing software. With Adobe Video Collection you also have your choice of a standard or professional suite of products. (Photoshop CS is not included in standard and the features differ in After Effects between standard and professional.)
Another recommendation that I have for you will answer your need for training. A company called Total Training has released nicely-done training for every Adobe title. The training is DVD- or QuickTime-based and will easily play on your computer. I've reviewed most every title the company has created. I've found the training to be exceptional. Adobe product specialists not only showcase the product, but show you how to get every penny's worth of your money from the software.
Adobe actually ships a Total Training "basics" DVD with both Video Collection and Creative Suite. Watching just the training that's included, for example, allowed me to launch Premiere Pro for the first time and quickly create an evangelistic video.
Adobe Photoshop CS is sophisticated photo manipulation software, but you'll find it easy to use, once you see Total Training simplify it for you. I've not seen a partnership between software and training as strong as Adobe and Total Training. This combo is the ticket for churches. In fact, we can't usually afford the tab to send all of the volunteers we have to conferences and seminars, but by having a set of Total Training's tutorials, the DVDs can be watched time and again, at our own pace. There are just so many "tricks" these trainers uncover that make unbelievable creative things happen quickly and easily.
Another great thing about this method of training is that you can call on your local association or conference headquarters to purchase this training on behalf of several churches, or take it upon yourself to partner with a few other churches to build a library of Total Training materials. By choosing Adobe and Total Training, I promise, you won't go wrong. See www.adobe.com and www.totaltraining.com for details.
Now, may I ask a favor? Right now planning is underway for our 2005 lineup of articles and training support for Communications Toolbox. How can we make your communications job easier? I look forward to reading your e-mails soon!
Terry Wilhite is a music and communications specialist.
He welcomes your e-mails at email@example.com
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