Public Speaking: How To Make The Teleprompter Your Best Friend

by drjim on February 14, 2012

If you know how to use it, a teleprompter can be your best friend

If you know how to use it, a teleprompter can be your best friend

As public speakers, because we know the importance of public speaking, we try very hard to be as comfortable as we can be on a stage in front of an audience. If we try hard enough and get enough chances to speak to an audience (whom we hope have good listening skills), then we have an opportunity to get good at doing this. However, this can all fly out the door if we find ourselves in a TV studio someday staring at a teleprompter. What is this thing and how do we use it?

What Is A Teleprompter?

Before we spend any time talking about how to make the best use of a teleprompter, perhaps we should spend just a few moments talking about just exactly what a teleprompter is and what it is intended to do. It turns out that the answers to both of these questions are quite simple.

In its simplest form, a teleprompter is a tool that lets a speaker see the words that they should be saying in a way that allows them to read the words even while they keep eye contact with the video camera that is taping them. By maintaining eye contact with their audience, speakers can make a deeper connection even while being able to say all of the words that they intended to say.

Teleprompter design can range from the simple, a laptop or iPhone set next to the TV camera’s lens to sheets of tilted glass that are placed in front of the camera’s lens. No matter how they are created, the end result is the same – you’ll be able to see your written out speech scrolling by as you stare into the camera lens.

How To Make A Teleprompter Work For You

When speakers first encounter a teleprompter, there is a little burst of joy that runs through them. What they think is that they no longer have to practice or rehearse their speeches. Instead, they’ll just write them out, place them on the teleprompter and *poof* they will magically be able to deliver a great speech. It’s almost as though they’ve just been handed the ultimate set of presentation tips.

The bad news quickly settles in. It turns out that you can give a bad speech with the help of a teleprompter just as easily as you can without a teleprompter. It turns out that speakers almost have to practice more when they are using a teleprompter than when they are not.

If you don’t take the time to practice your speech before you deliver it using a teleprompter, then several things are going to happen. When you give your speech you want to look believable. This means that you are going to have to know the content of your speech cold. You want to appear to have memorized your speech andnot appear to be just reading it to your audience.

The other challenge that speakers run into when they are using a teleprompter is that they change their pace of speaking. Because we all read slower than we speak, if you don’t know your speech material well then you are going to slow down and your audience is going to start to view you as being a methodical speaker who is not enjoyable to listen to.

What All Of This Means For You

The good news is that teleprompters can make speaking on TV easier to do. The bad news is that if you don’t know how to use a teleprompter, then you are going to end up looking foolish and you won’t be able to connect with your video audience. All of the benefits of public speaking will have flown out the door.

In order to use a teleprompter correctly, speakers still need to spend a great deal of time practicing their speech. Long before you find yourself standing in front of a teleprompter, you need to make sure that you’ve spent the time rehearsing your speech so that you have it down cold. Only then will you be ready to maximize the value that the teleprompter can deliver to you.

The good news is that once you’ve become comfortable with a teleprompter, you will be ready to shine the next time that you find yourself being videotaped. Adding this skill to your public speaking bag of tricks will allow you to become even more successful and to get your message out to more people.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: Do you ever think that it would be wise to speak on TV without using a teleprompter?

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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site www.Toastmasters.org. Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Oh, oh – now you’ve done it. Somehow, in some way, you screwed up. You made a mistake and did something (or in many cases you said something) that was wrong. What are you going to do now? The best thing to do would be to apologize and hope that your audience is using their listening skills. However, it turns out that this is just a bit more difficult than it seems…

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