The three main modern types of teleprompters are camera mounted, presidential, and floor or stand mounted.
The camera mounted teleprompter works with text being bounced off special glass placed in front of the lens. This type of prompter is used mainly for pre-recorded videos for speakers, guests or top-level management.
The presidential teleprompter works basically in the same manner as the camera mounted monitor, except the mirrored glass is mounted at the end of a thin pole instead of on a camera. However, just like the on-camera models, the speaker is able to look directly at the audience through the glass as if it were not there. This is great for a live event.
The floor/stand teleprompter can be placed at an angle on the floor, mounted on a stand or hung from rigging points in the back of the room.
When should/shouldn’t you use a Teleprompter?
Using teleprompters, such as a presidential monitor, infers professionalism and makes a speaker look more “presidential.” In general, prompters make the speaker look better as they allow them to connect with the audience, whether live or prerecorded, through eye contact and studies have shown that eye contact can be a major factor in whether or not we trust someone.
The average person (not a trained actor or someone with a photographic memory) has a difficult time memorizing large chunks of text. This is why many speakers use PowerPoint or notecards to keep them on-track. However, these methods can be cumbersome and make the presenter feel the need to add graphics or slides when they may not be relevant or useful. Teleprompters are also used when a speaker needs to convey a lot of detail or technical specifications.
Just as knowing when to use a teleprompter is important, knowing when NOT to use one is just as essential. The budget of an event can play a very big part in the use of a teleprompter, because you not only have to pay for the equipment but you have to pay for the person to operate it. Cost is not the only factor when considering a teleprompter; the environment is just as important. If the room and audience are small, the use of a teleprompter might be awkward. Imagine being in a small breakout session and having the speaker behind a pair of presidential monitors.
Preparing Speakers for a Teleprompter
Picking the right equipment is only half the battle when it comes to delivering a good speech. The speaker and the speech itself have to be a finely tuned machine. Options include hiring a speechwriter, which is surprisingly inexpensive, and they can work with the speaker to hone a message and to use language comfortable for the speaker. It is very important to write as one speaks, because if the language isn’t familiar, it often sounds stiff and awkward.
Not only does the speech have to be well written, the speaker delivering it has to also be well trained. The speaker should rehearse in the space before the event and allow plenty of time with the prompter itself. Even the most experienced speaker can find a prompter a little unsettling for the first time. Otherwise, a prompter will likely hurt the presentation, rather than help it.
One of the most important tips is to make sure that the speaker knows they are in control, not the teleprompter. It’s the operator’s job to make sure the speaker has the words they need, when they need them, not the job of the speaker to try and “keep up” with the prompter.
In conclusion, knowing your audience, your prompter equipment and your speech will ultimately reward you with a successful presentation. It is wise when budgeting to accommodate for not only the equipment itself, but for the operator and a possible script writer as well. Also, make sure that plenty of time is allowed for rehearsal and practice. Practicing with the equipment and
with the operator can help make or break a perfect prompter presentation.
Brandt Krueger (@BrandtKrueger on Twitter) is an educator, consultant, and almost 20 year veteran of the meetings and events industry, specializing in the field of event technology. He works actively with his long time colleagues at award-winning metroConnections, Inc. (www.metroconnections.com), as well as with his own company, Event Technology Consulting (www.brandtkrueger.com).
Since 1984, metroConnections has provided complete conference, event, stage production and transportation services for meeting and event planners nationwide. The metroConnections team uses its expertise and resources to specialize in the design and implementation of themed events, stage productions, transportation, tours and conference program logistics and meetings. metroConnections also offers audio/visual and production services and is the creator of Attend-eSource®, a web-based solution that includes elements such as online registration and custom-built event websites. For information on planning conferences, events, stage productions, transportation logistics or group/companion tours, contact metroConnections at 612-333-8687 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.