Introduction to Teleprompter 101

You might have seen our teleprompter video on our Tiktok and Instagram reels and we hope you enjoyed them as much as we craft them for our viewers. In this post, we will be introducing you to a teleprompter and the essential tips summarised in the video.

Vicinity Studio setting up for production using teleprompter

What is a teleprompter and how does it work?

A teleprompter, also known as an autocue, is a display device that projects a speaker’s script/visual text onto a transparent panel in front of the camera lens. They are commonly used in the media industry – television newsrooms, speeches to leaders, dialogues in films. The monitor is usually located below the camera, hidden away from the camera. A teleprompter helps readers to read the speech easily and comfortably, making it look like they are memorizing the lines. In actual fact, they are just reading through the script reflected from the mirror that moves from bottom to top. 

Uniquely, there will be someone else operating the teleprompter – that controls the speed of the words coming on the teleprompter as well as the reading speed of the speaker, be it pausing or swiftness of the speech. Though it may seem easy enough, learning how to use a teleprompter does take up some skills to master. Likewise, it takes a lot of practice to get it right so that you are comfortable reading the script/lines from the screen. Here are a few do’s and dont’s:

1) Be Energetic:

Energy and gestures are essential during presentations, similarly when reading your script from the teleprompter. Be more energetic than you think you need to be and project your voice out. Prevent slouching and reading in a monotonous tone as it gives out a dreadful mood making people uninterested to watch. 

2) Do Not Memorise:

As mentioned above, readers will read through the reflected mirror on the teleprompter the audience thinks that the readers are memorizing the lines. Therefore, you don’t need to memorize the script. Memorizing will give out an unnatural and rehearsed tone – making it unprofessional to audiences.

3) Do Not Fidget:

Hand gestures and facial expressions add naturality to the speech. But fidgeting like shaking your legs, or playing with one’s fingers, hair, or personal objects can be distracting to look at. Most people experience fidgeting from time to time without realizing it. It’s closely associated with not paying attention, and often reflects discomfort and restlessness. If you tend to fidget with your hands, one of the best things you can do is to fold your hands, making you seem relaxed, calm, and confident. Sit up straight and focus throughout the shoot.

4) Do Not Shout:

Projecting your voice and reading it out loud is good but do not yell or increase your voice unnaturally to the teleprompter. Getting anxious in front of the camera is common, so talk to a single person instead. Pretend as if you are interacting with someone behind the camera, having a casual conversation.

5) Read Not Perform:

Know your script and the objective of the shoot. The readers should be presenting their speech to the audience and not doing a performance. It depends on the type of shoot, where the talent is needed to perform an act but with a teleprompter on set which is totally unnecessary to do so.  

6) Self-Pacing:

When you get nervous, you may tend to speed up, so try to pace yourself and slow down. Take a deep breath and compose yourself when reading through the script. Try to calm yourself down. Do not worry about following the script’s pace on the teleprompter. If the text appears to be fast or offscreen, let the operator know otherwise they will follow your pace throughout the shoot. 

7) Smile, Be Confident:

Give a big smile. Don’t be afraid to show your teeth and be cheerful throughout. It will draw your audience in and give you a boost of confidence.

8) Practice, Practice & Practice:

You might have come across the phrase “Practice makes perfect”. When using a teleprompter without proper preparation, you might take the risk of uncertainty, unnaturalness, and stiffness. Take the time to rehearse it out loud – making it sound genuine and owning it. Speak out the words one by one, making sure that you are comfortable pronouncing them without any awkwardness. The words in your mind don’t mean that they will come out of your mouth naturally. So read through the script thoroughly a few times and make necessary changes to fit your comfortability. Don’t be afraid to switch to simpler words/phrases. With much practice, will come ease.

In the past, a teleprompter used to be an expensive device. Nowadays, they are many types of teleprompters in various apps, software, and devices. Some of them used online teleprompters and apps that can be downloaded through mobile devices, tablets, laptops, and many more like Simple Teleprompter, and Video Teleprompter. You can just transfer your script or file into the app and adjust their size screen, control speed, color, and so on at your convenience – making them easily accessible and fuss-free.


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