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The Art of Using a Teleprompter

by PowerSpeaking, Inc.     Feb 27, 2019 1:30:54 PM

How often have you seen public figures like politicians and entertainers trip over words, suffer awkward pauses, or make it obvious they’re reading a script while on camera? Yes, even seasoned speakers and presenters can bungle a talk if they’re not in sync with the words scrolling on that teleprompter screen.

There is a fine art to working with teleprompters, whether you’re being taped for a production video or making a live speech. Our Vice President of Learning and Development, Carrie Beckstrom, learned this lesson well recently, as she stepped in front of a teleprompter for the first time during production of our new program introduction videos. She graciously let us include a couple of quick clips for this blog, to demonstrate a few of the common recording/teleprompter mistakes to look out for.

Teleprompter Outtakes - Blog from PowerSpeaking on Vimeo.

Here are our best tips for making the teleprompter your friend:

Substance

  • Make sure your script is written in a conversational tone. Use crisp, vivid language. Vary the length of your sentences to create an interesting rhythm and emphasize important points. Avoid overly long, complicated sentences.
  • Use language that makes your audience feel like you’re talking with them, not at them.  In other words, speak to them as you would to a friend.
  • Include pauses in the script where you want to give people time to digest what you just said, or when you’re transitioning to another point.

Style

  • Rehearse the script out loud several times prior to filming.
  • Practice where and how you’re going to emphasize specific points.
  • Wear clothing that is not distracting to the audience or problematic for filming. Example: wear solid colors that don’t get lost or clash with the background.
  • Whether you sit or stand, make sure you have a comfortable, solid stance.
  • As with any “speech,” use engaging, effective gestures that illustrate and/or support what you’re saying.

Staging

These tips are more for the people setting up the room, operating the camera, and managing the teleprompter:

  • Make sure the room/space is distraction-free.
  • Set up good, professional lighting.
  • Put the subject in focus and the background slightly out of focus. This effect gives a more professional look.
  • Use a lavaliere microphone for good-quality sound.
  • Make sure the font size of the script on the teleprompter, and the speed at which it scrolls, makes for easy, natural reading.
  • During filming, use a “director board” to keep track of the best cuts.

Two last tips: keep a glass of water nearby; and if you struggle through multiple takes of a passage, take a break. Walk outside, breathe, stretch. You’ll come back to the teleprompter refreshed.

If you’d like more presentation/speaking skills training, check out our upcoming classes, below, or visit www.powerspeaking.com.


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Great actors use mind, body, and soul to engage and move their audiences. As speakers and presenters, what strategies and practices can we learn from them?

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Donnie Hill

Donnie Hill

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Brian Moore

Brian Moore

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Lisa Rothman

Lisa Rothman

PowerSpeaking Master Facilitator and Coach

Carrie Beckstrom

Carrie Beckstrom

CEO, PowerSpeaking, Inc.

About the Author

PowerSpeaking, Inc.

Topics: Style, Delivery Style, Presentation Skills, Presentation Preparation, Tips for Using a Teleprompter, Public Speaking, Effective Presenting, Staging, Teleprompter

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