last minute additions

When I younger (which is longer ago than I care to admit), I used to feel like the victim in the following scenario:  work out the details in the production meeting; work the plan like crazy; show up on Sunday morning with someone changing the plan; starting rehearsal late; getting slammed in debrief later in the week because rehearsal started late…again.

There was a season where it seemed like the music guy were adding additional instruments on Sunday morning without warning.  As I talked about in my previous post, when you only have 1 hour to do set up, then when you only have 24 channels to work with, there isn’t a whole lot of wiggle room to just start adding things at the last minute.

I am ashamed to admit that I didn’t handle this season of life very well.  I felt misunderstood, undervalued and walked all over and played the part of passive aggressive TD very well.  Now that I am old(er), I have learned a few things about handling the extra thing added at the last minute.

In my mind there are three possible scenarios when something gets added at the last minue:

Not enough inputs – With only 24 channels to work with, it was often full.  When the extra vocalist was added, I would generally freak out about what to do.  Now, I have learned to put the responsibility back on the person who hasn’t planned well.  Something like:  “I can’t wait to add this vocalist!  I’m going to need your help deciding what to take away from the mix.”  As an audio engineer, it isn’t easy to give up those drum channels, but we need to include the music director in the conversation, so that hopefully she will start knowing these things sooner.  This kind of inclusion helps to build trust, which we all know is key to the whole thing working in the first place.

Not enough time – Having a plan altered by a last minute addition can start the dominoes falling:  sound check starting late, rehearsal getting behind, doors open late, service doesn’t start on time.  In this situation, I learned to let the person know that we can add the congas to the band, but it is going to take about 10 extra minutes.  This puts the decision of starting late on the person who has changed the plan.  This was huge for me, because now we could point to a conversation where we decided to start sound check late instead of me just trying to make it happen then being blamed for the late start.

No problem – This was my favorite option.  We have channels available and we have time to spare, let’s do it!  Unfortunately, I used to be so beaten down by the other two situations, that I would withhold this option on principle.  They should have known before now that they were going to add something, and we are past the deadline I gave them.  This is one of those reasons why tech people get a bad name for being difficult to work with.  Please, don’t do this.  There are plenty of reasons to say no to a last minute add, and this is not one of them.

Last minute stuff happens all the time and it won’t stop.  

How do you handle these situations?  

How could you handle them more truthfully and responsibly?  

Help lead through each situation instead of being victimized by them.


photo credit:  by Great Beyond