Why You Should Use A Teleprompter

So many of our clients shy away from the teleprompter! They think it will make them come off stiff or unnatural. But here’s a secret: a teleprompter just might save your shoot. 

What is a teleprompter?

Most people know what this piece of equipment is, at least generally, right? It’s a screen that displays your script as moving text, simple. But almost all of my clients are surprised to see that it actually covers the camera lens.

Reason #1 For Using A Teleprompter: Standing in front of a camera speaking into the lens tends to make people nervous.

Nervousness can quickly turn into a vicious cycle. When your on-screen talent isn’t a professional actor, looking into the camera can be nerve-racking. If they’re inexperienced at memorizing scripts, those nerves are only going to exacerbate mistakes, making the talent even more nervous. We’ve had shoots that quickly spin out of control, with talent getting flustered and self-conscious. And then we pull out the most valuable piece of equipment in our kit: our trusty prompter. The one the client said they didn’t want to use.

Using a teleprompter in this situation kills 2 birds with one stone. Not only are our clients relieved to learn they won’t have a “camera” pointed at them, but having the script in front of them gives them so much more confidence. When they’re not struggling with nerves, mistakes, and more nerves–they can actually appear more natural and relaxed. Our clients are always grateful that we packed it anyway.

Reason #2 For Using A Teleprompter: It saves time, and time is money.

Just have a short script? Think you can ad-lib? Maybe you can pull it off, but every take is more of your time, and more of ours–and more time we have to spend editing. Using a prompter is all about making your job as easy as possible!

We’re a firm believer that every shoot should be scripted (there are even times we script interviews, just so we know what we need and ensure we get it), but even for clients that refuse word for word scripts, a prompter can be helpful. Ask an executive to explain something, and they may ramble on for 10 minutes, get sidetracked and go down rabbit holes. But ask them to explain something based on 3 key points that are placed in front of them, and they have a guide to stay on track. It works, we’ve been there and done it!

Reason #3 For Using A Teleprompter: There’s just no good reason not to!

Many years ago we worked with a teleprompter that consisted of a monitor that had to be hooked up to a laptop with special software. It was cumbersome, but that’s what we had to work with. These days we use an iPad, which sits inside a little tent, and is reflected onto a piece of glass in front of the camera lens. We have one app that follows along with the speaker, scrolling automatically so that nobody has to think about the pace. When that app doesn’t work (because technology, and sometimes, accents), we have another that is controlled via bluetooth and an iPhone. This is to say, set up is a piece of cake. It doesn’t require a whole extra person to operate. There’s just no reason not to have it on set, whether in studio or on location!

It should be noted, some video production companies may charge an extra fee for this equipment, but even then, it should be worth it. We don’t charge extra, because we know this one piece of equipment might just save your day.

Tips For Using Teleprompters

  • It all starts with the script. Writing for video is unique, and what looks good on paper doesn’t always sound the best spoken. When writing, be sure to speak the script to make sure it’s natural.
  • Practice makes perfect! Speaking your script through ahead of time will help you get familiar with the script, and nail the nuances once the camera is rolling.
  • Consult with the director. Understand what you can and cannot do when it comes to gestures. Often times body language helps deliver your message as much as your words, but every situation is unique.
  • Blink!