Prompter Tips for Presenters and On Camera Talent

Welcome to our presenter page…
Why Use a Video Prompter?
How to Use a Video Prompter
Why Use a Prompter for a Live Event?
How to Give a Speech with a Prompter

Welcome to our presenter page…

…where you’ll find prompter tips and ideas to improve your performance for both novice and experienced users.   (See our “How to” sections.)

If you’re considering a prompter for the first-time, we’ll discuss what it can do for you. (See our “Why” sections.)

A teleprompter lets you read a script without looking like you’re reading. You look like you’re talking directly to the audience—and you have your words down cold!

And another benefit: you don’t have to worry about what you’re saying, and can put your effort into how you say it, into using your tone of voice and your pace and your emphasis to deliver a more interesting performance.

Once you’ve worked with a teleprompter, you’ll never look back.
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Why Use a Video Prompter?

An executive is rehearsing with an on-camera prompter for his video debut. After the first read-through, he asks, “Where’s the camera?” The director smiles and explains, “You’ve been looking at it. It’s right behind the teleprompter mirror.”

That’s how a prompter lets you read a script and look into the camera at the same time. You know what to say, so you can focus on the way you say it.

The ability to engage a live audience doesn’t necessarily translate into a strong presence on camera. When you see your listeners, you can respond to their subtle reactions. You don’t get the same sort of feedback from the glassy eye of a video camera.

Most people struggle to ad-lib on camera. If they accomplish a good “take” (usually after several attempts), they don’t remember what they said, so they can’t repeat it when the director asks for a retake.

(And why do directors ask for a second good take? In the trade it’s called a ‘safety’—just in case there’s physical defect on the tape, or a verbal bobble nobody caught.)

A prompter’s very affordable, especially when you compare it to the cost of the entire video. And it can help your personal ROI, too: you’ll record more good takes while expending less time and energy.

Request a prompter for your next video project and make your on-camera appearance easier.
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How to Use a Video Prompter

It’s easy to use a prompter: you just show up and read your script until you’ve got a good take. And here are a few tips for improving your on-camera performance.

Practice. Read the script aloud a few times before the shoot, so you get comfortable with it. You want to sound conversational.

Revise. Revise words that are difficult to say, or don’t match your speaking style. For example, you might replace “utilize” with “use.” We always suggest contracting the formal “I am” or “you are,” to “I’m” or “you’re”.

Focus on your delivery. It’s distracting to the viewer when you sound formal or stumble over words. So relax, smile and read from the screen as though you’re talking to a friend. (You know, pretend!)

Ask for Dallas Prompter. Our skilled teleprompter operators and high-end software can make your on-camera experience much easier. We go the extra mile with tools and time-tested techniques that can make the difference.
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This presenter is working with an on-camera prompter.  If you look closely, you can see the camera lens behind the prompter mirror.


Why Use a Prompter for a Live Event?

Like a Swiss Army knife, the teleprompter offers a variety of benefits wrapped up in a single tool.  It’s a valuable asset not just for presenters but for meeting planners and content managers, too.

Meeting Planners.  Scripted presenters finish on-time (usually), so your session is more likely to stick to the schedule you worked so hard to establish.  Use rehearsals to time a presenters’ speeches, and keep them aware of what follows them on the agenda (ie, what’s going to get screwed up if they run over).

Content Managers.  Teleprompter rehearsals help you preview the arc of a meeting across several speakers, and to uncover overlapping information in separate presentations.  These rehearsals also provide a valuable milestone for monitoring everyone’s progress before the event.

Presenters.  It’s a memory device and a safety net; it keeps you on-track and on-time; and because you don’t have to think about what you’re going to say next, it lets you focus on how you present.

* It keeps your head up.  You can read from a script without looking down at paper.  You’ll look better on stage, on the big screen, and in the video recording of your performance.

* It keeps you accurate.  Sensitive topics need to be discussed in appropriate terms; mis-speak, and you may distract your audience from the rest of your message.

* It keeps you on track.  You have a limited time to convey your message.  Write, rehearse, and deliver your speech to fit that time—and keep the meeting planner happy.

* It keeps you in synch. PowerPoint and videos are cued to your script.  You don’t have to advance a graphic or ask for a video roll, because your production crew can follow your script, and give you what you want, when you want it, without your asking.

* It keeps you up front.  There’s no typescript or index cards to grab the audience’s attention. They can’t see the script, they’re never aware you’re reading from it; they’ll never notice even a Presidential Glass, unless you draw attention to it.
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How to Give a Speech with a Prompter

Like any tool, you have to learn how to use it.  And even if you’re comfortable with a prompter, it’s always a good idea to rehearse before an event.

Craft your message.  Work with your writer and trusted advisors to develop a speech that matches your voice and style. 

Rehearse with the prompter.

  • Practice your script and make it sound conversational.
  • Look for feedback from a coach or knowledgeable colleague.
  • Make sure the latest version of your speech is in the prompter.
  • Get comfortable with your prompter operator.

Avoid ad-libbing.  The contrast with your prepared text may come off as careless speaking; and you risk diluting your message by hesitations and repetitions.  If you intend to say it, write it, and add it to your prompter copy.

Introduce yourself to your prompter operator.  We’re part of your presentation team, and we’d like to meet you.
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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I control the scrolling words?
You control the words with your pace: your prompter operator listens as you speak and adjusts the scrolling speed to match.

Can I trust the prompter operator to stay with me?
W e l l . . . You can trust us to stay with you. Unfortunately, some companies regard teleprompter operation as an entry-level position.  If you’re working with an unfamiliar operator, we suggest a test drive:

  • Introduce yourself and ask how long they’ve been prompting.

  • Give the operator a couple of script changes and watch as they type; you can tell if they’re familiar with the system.

  • The acid test: rehearse.

If the operator doesn’t seem competent with the software, or doesn’t match your pace, ask (respectfully but firmly) for a better operator.

Do I need my glasses to see the prompter?
Some people can read a prompter without glasses.  It depends on your eyesight and other variables.  Give it a try and see for yourself.  (And bring your spectacles just in case.)

This is my first time to give a speech with a teleprompter.  What do I need to know?
We suggest three basics for first-time prompter users:

  1. The teleprompter operator follows you, so you set the pace.
  2. You can still ad-lib; your prompter operator will pause the text.
  3. Presidential Prompters offer you two glass panels to read from. Avoid frequent, “metronomic” head turns as you switch between panels.  Push yourself to stay with each panel for longer than (at first) feels comfortable; use the start of a new sentence—or, even better, introduction of a new topic— as a reason to change the direction of your gaze.

I want to walk around the stage.  Can I still use the prompter?
Yes.  We can display the prompter copy on several large video monitors in front of the audience, facing the stage; when you look at a monitor, you appear to be looking at the audience beyond it.  (Let your producer know in advance if you want work this way, because it does require extra equipment.)

Can I ad-lib?
Yes, you can ad-lib.  It’s entirely natural to change the words a little as you give your speech.  For more on protracted ad-libs, see our comments above.

Will the audience know I’m using a prompter?
Not if you don’t tell them.  (Our pet peeve: don’t mention the teleprompter in your ad-lib comments to the audience.) Unless you sound like you’re reading, they can’t tell. So write, revise and rehearse your script until it sounds conversational.

Can I speak to my PowerPoint slides?
Yes.  You don’t need to read your slides word-for-word (which is incredibly boring to the audience), and you won’t have to put every word you say on-screen.  Having a prompter script puts the words in your mouth, so your graphic can pick up the key points.

How much rehearsal do I need with the prompter?
We suggest rehearsing your script at least once.
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