Public speaking can be stressful. Trying to remember everything you want to say while focusing on tone and delivery can trip up even the most experienced public speakers. Many still rely on handwritten notes but that can cause a disconnect while fumbling with papers or looking down to reference them. That’s where a teleprompter, known to be used by professional speakers like politicians and news anchors, can help the average person present in the same concise and polished manner.
Benefits to using a teleprompter
Teleprompters allow speakers to utilize a prepared script to convey a succinct message to an in-person or virtual audience. They help the presenter connect better with their audience, allowing them to present in a more natural and conversational manner. They are also incredibly useful in keeping a speaker focused on specific messaging, rather than having them speak entirely in their own words and risk going off message. Referencing the script can serve as a security blanket and allows the speaker to appear poised, confident, and well-informed as they focus on their presentation instead of the content. Creating a professional broadcast camera shot, teleprompters also encourage direct eye contact and helps the speaker use consistent speed when talking.
What are the challenges?
A teleprompter is a tool, not something that automatically turns you into a polished public speaker with the click of a button. The speaker still needs to focus on preparation, including practicing the speech beforehand to avoid coming off robotic. A teleprompter is not an excuse for knowing a script and rehearsal with your teleprompter operator is key to getting the timing and flow right. When drafting the script, it is important to find the balance between delivering the message and doing it in a way that is personable and easy to connect with. It is important to read through the written speech and make sure the language used is personable when spoken aloud, along with making sure you’re comfortable with the language and pronunciations. It is also important to do a practice presentation in front of your internal team to become comfortable with presenting the script and tweak the language as a team.
Things to keep in mind when using a teleprompter
So, you have made the choice to use a teleprompter. What are the important things to keep in mind? The teleprompter should always be viewed as more of a reminder than a script to be read verbatim. Even when using the teleprompter, you should still have the script partially memorized. Unless you are a polished professional speaker, most people can risk coming off as stale and the audience will be fully aware they are just reading from a script. It is important to play with the formatting of the script and not be afraid to use bolding, spacing, color changes, and section breaks to help with the overall delivery. Also, just because you have a drafted script doesn’t mean you can’t include off-the-cuff remarks or small asides during your presentation. The teleprompter operator will be following the speaker’s lead and will still be able to follow along if you go slightly off-script. They also will match the speed of the presenter so there is no pressure to feel the need to match the scrolling speed of the teleprompter. If you get in a situation where the teleprompter speed is too fast, just start to read slower and the operator will match your speed. Even though the teleprompter encourages direct eye contact, it’s important to not stare directly into the teleprompter, as this can come off as unnatural, similar to a deer in headlights.
When practicing, it is important to consider where the teleprompter is located and ensure you have the best font size for clear and easy viewing. When selecting the right teleprompter, it is important to be aware of where the teleprompter will be located in relation to where you’re speaking. Typically, they say that a 15-inch teleprompter is good from about 15 feet away and the further away you are, the larger the teleprompter needs to be. It is also important to consider where you will be delivering the speech. Different screens are available for indoor or outdoor presentations, with higher brightness models available for outdoor settings.
Participating in a virtual or hybrid event? There are several applications that you can run from your desktop that can help you present during virtual presentations. These applications give you the ability to control the digital teleprompter using your keyboard and allow you to present professionally from any location.
One of our AV Techs working on the teleprompter computer