Teleprompters: Expectations vs. Reality
23 Jul

Teleprompters: Expectations vs. Reality

A teleprompter is an invaluable tool to have on hand if you want to give your videos or live broadcasts a professional touch. With a little practice, reading from a teleprompter will become second nature to you. But first, let’s examine the device. Here’s what you need to know about teleprompters—the expectations vs. the reality.

Expectation: “I don’t need one.”

Many people may not see the point in using a prompter, especially for shorter videos or broadcasts. They may feel tempted to “wing it” when they want to give the video a natural feel.

Reality:

Unless you commit to memorizing your entire speech word-for-word like an actor, you’ll need a teleprompter to give your speech a natural flow. Too much ad-libbing can muddy up your speech and lead you too far off the topic. Reading from a script in your hands looks clumsy, and you lose your viewers’ interest every time your eyes float down to the page. When you use a teleprompter, your body language opens up. You face your audience with more confidence and you can engage in more eye contact with the camera.

Expectation: “It’ll do all the work for me.”

Many novice teleprompter readers believe that all they have to do is read the words that scroll before them, and that they can go into the broadcast without practice.

Reality:

You need to know what’s in the script ahead of time. Teleprompters are useful for people who don’t want to memorize big chunks of text—and you don’t have to memorize it! Read over the script to absorb the major points you’re covering. Know the outline of the script and pay close attention to the beginning and end, so you’re not surprised by the words you read as they scroll. If possible, provide input on the script and tailor it to your own speaking patterns. With your personal touch, your teleprompter reading will sound more organic.

Expectation: “Teleprompters are so old-fashioned.”

They’ve been around since 1948—before television as we know it even existed. Their purpose is simple, and the technology is straightforward.

Reality:

Prompters have changed with the times, too! Back in the 1970s, they were literal scrolls of paper with words printed on them. Today, you can choose from a variety of technologies, like iPad teleprompters; a tablet is a versatile thing to have in any media industry. Your script, printed in reverse, scrolls by on the tablet screen. Then, a one-way mirror, placed at a specific angle, reflects them so you can read them discreetly. Check out Glide Gear’s selection of teleprompter equipment, and you’re sure to find a setup that’s compatible with your current equipment and videography needs.

Expectation: “I’ll have to spend a fortune on this equipment.”

When looking at the video equipment at a news station, all that high-tech stuff can seem so bulky and look very expensive. The thought of shelling out big bucks for a whole studio’s worth of equipment can be intimidating.

Reality:

Teleprompter technology is affordable and portable, especially with Glide Gear. You can even use your smartphone as a teleprompter and mount it on top of your camera! If you’ve already got a phone or a tablet, you’re halfway to having your own prompter.

Expectation: “If you’re really good, you shouldn’t need a prompter.”

It’s tempting to believe that a teleprompter is like training wheels on a bike. When an on-camera personality says that they don’t use a prompter, they often make it a point of pride.

Reality:

Even seasoned professionals like news anchors and TV hosts use teleprompters. There’s no shame in using one. It doesn’t mean you don’t know your lines; if anything, it means you care about looking your best and being professional on camera. Too much improvisation and ad-libbing can flatten out your speech at best, and completely derail it at worst. You want your audience to receive your message clearly and concisely. For that purpose, a teleprompter is your best friend.

Expectation: “A teleprompter will make the shoot go so much faster!”

When the words are readily available, you should be able to hop in front of the camera and say your piece, right? A teleprompter makes the reader’s job so much easier.

Reality:

A prompter certainly can speed up your shoot! But beware—if you haven’t practiced with the prompter, or if you haven’t looked at the script beforehand, learning to read on the fly can be a time-consuming process. The more you practice before the shoot, the more comfortable you’ll be in front of the camera. With that confidence and practice, the shoot will go quickly and smoothly.

Expectation: “Nobody will be able to tell I’m using a prompter.”

The goal of using a teleprompter is to appear as organic as possible on camera. When watching seasoned professionals, the process looks easy.

Reality:

With the right camera setup and a practiced reader, the shoot can be successful. However, it takes a little trial and error to find that sweet spot. If your camera is too close, your audience will see your eyes move as they follow the words. If the one-way mirror on your teleprompter isn’t angled correctly, other people may see what you’re reading. Keep the prompter at a distance to where you can read it easily, but not so close that everyone else can see it.

Expectation: “Now that I’ve read these tips, I’m golden.”

All the advice relayed above is easy to implement in your next video or broadcast, and each reading will be better than the last.

Reality:

It’s true. You’re almost there—remember to add your personal flair to your presentation. Pay attention to your natural mode of speaking (inflections, hand gestures, and all) and find a way to incorporate it into your on-camera presence. If you sit stock-still and read off the prompter in a monotone, no matter how flawless your recitation is, your audience won’t be engaged. Be your natural self on camera and strive to make a genuine connection with your viewers.

A teleprompter is an essential tool for any on-camera personality, whether you’re a reporter, a YouTuber, or a talk show host. While prompters are useful in creating a natural flow in your speech, they are no replacement for familiarity with the material and an adequate rehearsal period. Now that we’ve demystified teleprompters—expectations and reality—it’s time to hone the skills you’ll use for years in your media career!

Teleprompters: Expectations vs. Reality

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