Watch any skilled speaker on TV – a celebrity, news commentator, or political leader – and chances are, much of their seemingly “effortless” delivery is due to practiced use of a teleprompter.
Although not difficult to learn, there’s no doubt that mastering a teleprompter takes practice, or in some cases the guiding hand of a presentation coach. Collaborating with Teleprompter Operators Andrea Sawchuck and Bethal Bird we developed these 11 Tips to become teleprompter pro.
1. Teleprompting is a team sport. Before your rehearsal, make it a point to meet your teleprompter operator. Taking a few minutes to introduce yourself can help create rapport and give you a boost of confidence that your destiny is in good hands.
2. Share your preferences. For example, do you prefer to work from a full script, bullet points, or a topical outline? The right way is the one that works best for you.
3. Not all operators are created equal. If you had one bad experience with a teleprompter, don’t be turned off to the entire process. Conversely, if you connect with a teleprompter operator for a great experience, be sure to get their contact information for the future.
4. Teleprompting is voice activated. Experienced operators allow the presenter to control the pace of the “scroll”. Think of the teleprompter as being ‘voice activated.’ As you speak, it scrolls. When you stop, the prompter stops.
5. Realize you are not limited by what is on the screen. As a presenter, you have the freedom to ad lib. A skilled prompter operator will follow your lead and ensure that your next thought is there when you’re ready for it.
6. Glance and grab™. Start by glancing at the prompter to your right, grab both what you are saying and what’s next. Complete your thought and then shift your attention between the two prompters. Share the sentence or thought you “grabbed”. Then, turn to the prompter on your left for your next complete thought. This method allows you to connect with everyone in your audience.
7. Practice makes perfect. A good operator will customize the script for your speaking style. Once they are familiar with your individual pace, your operator can, for example, add space between the lines of your text as a cue for eye contact.
8. Size does matter. Be sure you are comfortable with the size of the font on the teleprompter.
9. Layout = Confidence. To help “crisp up”, punctuate and ensure a smooth delivery, ask your operator to use bold face or underline key words that you want to emphasize. Also, insert extra spacing or slash marks (/) to help with pacing and pausing. Or you may want to consider highlight pauses and stage direction to help with the presentation flow.
10. Secure a “prompter” copy of the script. Once the operator has made all the changes to your script ask for a hard copy. This way you can continue to review your presentation, familiarizing yourself with how the text will appear on screen.
11. Keep hard copy handy. Even when using a teleprompter, it is important to have a current hard copy of you script in the unlikely case there is a problem. At the very least, it will give you a feeling of security.