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Teleprompters – they keep coming up again and again with my media-training clients. Questions like:
- Should I use a teleprompter?
- When do I not need a teleprompter?
- How do I use a teleprompter?
- Which teleprompters are the best for entrepreneurs?
Those are just some of the questions that have come up over the years. I’ve worked with dozens and dozens of anchors and reporters who have mastered the skill of using a teleprompter.
If you’re unfamiliar with them though it can be a bit daunting at first. So let me break it down for you.
When should I use a teleprompter?
Some people lean on a teleprompter more heavily than others. But in my opinion, there are two situations that call for it for small-business owners or authors:
- When you have a lot of copy to get through and want to make sure it’s right.
- When the stakes are higher.
BEST USES FOR A TELEPROMPTER:
- When you’re making an introduction video for your website.
I used a teleprompter to produce this introduction video on my site.
I wanted to make sure to get across how I could help experts, authors and entrepreneurs appeal to traditional media and also produce their own videos.
Because this is the first thing people see when they visit my site PaulaRizzo.com I wanted it to look polished and professional. Plus, because I’m a TV producer I wanted to show that I practice what I preach!
- When you’re on-camera for an online course.
I used a teleprompter when producing videos for my online course Lights Camera Expert, which helps experts get and keep media attention.
When do I not need a teleprompter?
- Short videos. If your videos are not that long it will probably look more natural to have one thought and memorize what you want to say. But beware – you don’t want to over memorize. Any TV reporter will tell you that is a recipe for disaster. If you stumble it could through your whole recording off. It’s better to have a sense of what you want to say and then go for it. You’ll get better with practice.
- Off the cuff videos for social media. Again this gives them the natural look and allows people to be “on the road” with you wherever you are.
However – even when you are doing an off the cuff video you should always prep ahead on what the bullet points are that you want to get across and always have a call to action at the end.
For instance – what do you want the viewer to do?
Sign up for your webinar?
Download your free guide?
If you’re unprepared you run the risk of umm/ahhing and losing your focus and the audience’s attention.
How do I use a teleprompter?
Here are some of my best tips:
- Read slowly.
- Practice. This is super important so when it comes to the recording you’re not just reading off a screen and your personality can shine through. You will need to practice several times to get good at this. Don’t get frustrated. Remember when you see recordings on TV or on the web those likely took a few takes to perfect. Be patient with yourself.
- Be conversational with your writing. Use short sentences. Be yourself. Act like you’re talking to someone you know.
- Use visual cues in your writing to direct yourself. When I worked in TV news I’d write scripts for anchors and reporters daily. I knew what I wanted them to pay special attention to. I’d use visual cues to communicate it to them.
I’d use “quotes” or *stars* around words to show them to emphasize them when they spoke.
=Equal signs= are a cue to slow down or make words stand out if it’s a difficult or strange word.
There are no rules here but try out different cues to see what helps you. These are little tricks that make reading off a teleprompter so much easier.
- Use all CAPS – it makes it way easier to read and an added bonus is it helps to keep your eyes steady so it doesn’t look like your eyes are moving as you read on camera.
Which teleprompters are the best for entrepreneurs?
Getting a teleprompter doesn’t have to be super expensive and there are a variety of different apps you can use.
- Teleprompter – a Mac-based app to use on your desktop (download here, $34.99)
- PrompSmart – for your iPhone/iPad and you can set up your camera behind it also. It has voice recognition so it auto scrolls as you speak. However I had a bit of trouble with this one because it didn’t recognize my voice so I had to have someone scroll it manually for me. (download here, $19.99)
- Teleprompter Pro – a cheaper option for Android smartphones (download here, $6.49)
- CuePrompter – completely free and you can use it from your internet browser (https://cueprompter.com/)