In order to master using a teleprompter, you must first understand and apply the three laws of using a teleprompter. Much like Star Trek’s prime directive or Newton’s law of thermodynamics, there are rules which must be obeyed before you can master the flawless use of a teleprompter. However, unlike Brad Pitt’s character in Fight Club, we can talk about these, so let’s chop it up.
The three laws are as follows:
- PRACTICE MORE
- REPEAT 1 & 2 AGAIN
Once you have grounded yourself in the laws of teleprompter mastery, you will be ready to apply some additional tips that will transform you into a teleprompter ninja.
Like a major league pitcher and catcher duo, you and your operator must be on the same page as the chemistry (or lack thereof) can make or break the production. Meet with the operator before production to go over any notes or questions. Don’t risk confusing your viewers with an awkward pace of speech or embarrass yourself by reading words that were not edited properly. Establish rapport with the operator ahead of time and review the copy before going live.
When possible, write your own copy and rehearse until your next word just comes naturally. If you must read a prepared script, consider making adjustments to humanize the copy and make it sound more natural. A simple change that doesn’t affect the core content is to replace “we are” or “I will” with contractions, like “we’re” or “I’ll.” Small adjustments like this also free up reading space on the teleprompter.
Keep your words in the middle and use your peripheral vision to read. Don’t let your eyes dart left and right. This is a dead give away that you’re reading a script. Instead, use your peripheral vision to watch the teleprompter while maintaining eye contact with the camera. If the operator keeps your words in the middle of the screen, it will help you keep your pace. You won’t race ahead or slow down too much.
Smile as often as you can and gesture naturally to emphasize your main points. This helps to build a real connection with your audience. A smile is so much better than an “um”.
Relax, breathe and have some fun. After all, you’re not producing a video to be a robot; you’re doing it because it’s fun, informative and helpful to your viewers. Often, your enthusiasm for a topic will resonate with your viewers more than your words will.
Just remember, reading from a teleprompter does not come naturally – but by using these five tips, you can turn yourself into a natural. What separates the novice from the professional is adherence to the three laws of teleprompter mastery … practice, more practice, and still more practice!