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How to Use a Teleprompter to Give a Speech

Learn how to use a teleprompter from media coach TJ Walker in this Howcast public speaking video.


So how do you use a teleprompter effectively when you're giving a speech? Well, before I even give you tips, I want you to ask yourself a few questions. Why are you using a teleprompter? A lot of people use it for the wrong reasons. They think, 'Hey, this will be easy. I don't have to rehearse. I don't have to remember what I'm going to say. I won't have to worry about forgetting stuff.'

That's not the reason to use a teleprompter. If you use a teleprompter effectively, it'll actually take you more time to prepare than simply working from notes. So don't let anyone talk you into using a teleprompter because it's more controllable or it will save you time. That's not the case.

Here's the big problem with the way most people use a teleprompter. Their following the teleprompter. They act like the teleprompter is in charge and that they aren't in charge. So what happens? All of a sudden people start to sound the same. They talk at the same speed, the same volume, the same tone, and they don't put pauses in. Can you see how you are about to fall asleep? Now I wasn't reading from a teleprompter there but that's how people sound.

If you're going to use a teleprompter, here are the big tips you have to keep in mind. Occasionally you speak louder. Occasionally softer. Sometimes you go a little faster, sometimes you go a little slower. And sometimes you need to pause. Doing those steps will make you sound conversational. You've got to do that and then you will be following, not the teleprompter, but the teleprompter will be following you. That's what you want. That's what you want.

Finally, it's not going to be easy to do unless you're a newscaster and you do it for six hours a day. So if you want to use a teleprompter you need to rehearse on video again, and again, and again, to get used to it and build that comfort level with the script. Because it is kind of a strange alien thing, seeing this text through glass and a camera behind it.

Now we all read from left to right. So if you're going to use a teleprompter you are going to have to have eye movement. They key is you've got to keep moving your head. You've got to keep moving your face, moving your hands. The problem a lot of people have is all of a sudden, 'Oh, I don't want to miss a word.' So they freeze their bodies so that the only thing moving are their eyeballs. If the rest of your body is moving, then your eye movements will not be as noticeable.

It's also why you need to be really familiar with the words in the script. That way, occasionally, you can look down and your eyes are not just riveted in the one spot.

Make sure there's a real reason for it. If you're president of a country, a prime minister, a major finance minister, any words you say wrong could cause an international incident or destroy markets. But for most of us, if you're a CEO, almost anyone else, our real challenge in life is not that one wrong word in a speech is going to cause a crisis. The biggest challenge for us is making sure that people can remember anything we say. So keep that in mind before you use the teleprompter.

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