If you find yourself preparing to speak at a product launch, analyst meeting, conference or industry event chances are there will be a teleprompter available to guide you through your presentation. The teleprompter is a valuable tool that allows you to connect with your audience vs. trying to recall your message.
Although not difficult to learn, mastering a teleprompter takes practice, perhaps even the guiding hand of a presentation coach.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
The Equipment: Teleprompters are simply glass plates or monitors that project rolling text to the speaker without being visible to the audience.
- Also referred to as “presidential paddles”, the glass plate teleprompter will restrict your movement and keep you in place (typically behind a podium).
- Monitors (large screen TV monitors – shown above) are usually placed on the floor or stage, and allow you to move about more freely.
The Operator: Your new best friend! Whether you’re a teleprompter newbie or pro, it’s comforting to know that there’s a live person behind the technology who is dedicated to helping you present your best self. Make it a point to meet your teleprompter operator prior to rehearsal.
The Rehearsal: Don’t skip the rehearsal! Practice aloud with the teleprompter operator so he or she can get to know your pace and make special notations within your text or make minor text changes as needed. Your objective is to ensure your text sounds conversational, not read from a script.
Also, remember you are in the driver’s seat. If you slow down, the operator will slow the scrolling text, if you pick up the pace, so will the operator.
The Basics Still Apply: Eye contact is all about inclusion and connecting with your audience. The presence of a teleprompter does not change that fact. Speak fluidly, with natural pauses and inflection. Your goal is to “glance and grab”™ a phrase from the teleprompter, keeping a minimum of 90% direct, roving and continuous eye contact with your audience. In addition, make sure to turn your body to include everyone, if you simply move your eyes between the teleprompters, you risk appearing “shifty”.
Although not difficult to learn, there’s no doubt that mastering a teleprompter takes time. By practicing with your operator on-site, sharing your concerns and preferences, and collaborating with them on minor content tweaks, you’re certain to nail it like a seasoned teleprompter pro.