Saturday, February 22, 2014

Tips for Preaching from Tablet

I've been using my tablet (a Nexus 7 Android tablet, and before that my Kindle) to preach from rather than paper-printed text as of late, something that I know some of my colleagues are doing but some are hesitant about.  There are some good reasons for doing so:

1.  It saves paper.

That would be enough, but here are some more:

2.  I can move around with it and am not tied to the pulpit, even if I want to preach from a manuscript.
3.  It cuts down on clutter and filing. 
4.  No shuffling or sliding or flipping paper noises.
5.  Nobody accidentally walks away with part of my manuscript.
6.  I never lose a page.
7.  I never get to the middle and find out that the ink ran out midway through printing.
8.  I never leave a page on my printer.
9.  I never grab the wrong folder.
10.  For Christmas Eve and other dimly lit services, it's back-lit.
11.  Color doesn't cost more!  

For people worrying about technology failures, I can say that I've never had the tablet or Kindle technology let me down, but I've had a number of paper-related problems, including running out of ink, a printer that fails to communicate with my computer, and #5-9 above.  But I have taken to sending the file to both my tablet and my Kindle and bringing them both, just in case, so if the tablet had failed to charge fully the night before, for example, the Kindle would be ready to grab.  I've never had the electronic technology fail me, though, whereas I've had numerous problems with paper, from text where the ink ran out to grabbing the wrong folder, to leaving a page on the printer. 

There are some things that are different about the tablet, however, so here are a few tips:
  1. Experiment with font sizes.  I have good eyes and normally preach with a 12-point font.  I find that if I set the font to 26-point, it's the right size for me on the tablet and Kindle.  Another way to do it is to set the font to what you would normally use, and then manipulate the paper size to be tablet-sized.  Both of these formatting options work with the Kindle.  I've only used the former with the tablet, but I assume the later would work. 
  2. Lock the screen rotation, so that if you're walking around and hold it at a little bit of an angle, it doesn't keep flipping back and forth in orientation.
  3. Experiment with different apps to read it in.  I was using the Adobe app, but have found I prefer to read it in the Kindle app.  The reason is that I like to tap on the corner to turn pages rather than swipe, as I find the motion both less distracting and better for keeping one hand free while preaching.  An advantage of the Adobe app is that you can make hand-written notes on the document if you want.  Sometimes I open the file in both so that I have this choice.  If I want to use the Kindle app, however, it's better to e-mail it to my Kindle (using your Kindle or Kindle app's e-mail address, which you can find out in Amazon), rather than just e-mailing it to myself and opening in Kindle. I find if you just open it using Kindle, if you close the app it loses the file and you have to do it again. 
  4. Find a good cover with a strap to slip your hand in on back.  My tablet's cover isn't optimal, and I like my Kindle's cover better.  It's this one, which has a strap to slip my hand in, so that I don't have to be holding on to the tablet, and frees up the thumb to flip pages.  I plan to get essentially the same cover for my tablet soon.  Whatever your choice, make sure that cover looks professional enough that it wouldn't be out of place at a wedding or funeral, and that the tablet doesn't slip out of it easily, which is the problem with my current one. 
  5. Make sure your tablet is set so that it won't time out and shut down during the meditation or hymn, especially if you have a password on it.
  6. This is the one I've just learned.  You don't see as much on a page, so your page breaks are very important.  It may seem at first like you want to have a page break at the end of an element, but if you can't tell it's the end of an element your voice won't have the right inflection as you end the reading.  So put some sort of symbol at the end of each element -- maybe a little chalice -- so that you know the reading has come to an end.  And go through and make sure that all your page breaks are not at places you'll find jarring.  
That's really all there is to it -- it's easier than it seems.  And if you're still asking why you should do this, go back to reason #1.  That's all you need. 

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