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Teleprompter or Not?


oIt Depends. . .

President Obama is a master at using the teleprompter. I don’t believe anyone does it better. He doesn’t just “read” the words on the screen to his audiences. His inflections, varying cadence, gestures, body language, and facial expressions take his rhetorical skills to levels most never attain. He makes it look easy. It isn’t!

Using a teleprompter, in my limited experience, is tough. Admittedly, the one I used was homemade and nowhere near the quality of professional equipment. The components were my iPad and an app. The scrolling speed was controlled via my iPhone and it was awkward to do. One of my coaching clients showed me a teleprompter app where the scrolling speed was voice controlled. That would be a big improvement! High-end teleprompters probably have that feature, and more bells and whistles.

Some Teleprompter Benefits.

  1. Having a script to read lessens the possibility parts of the speech will be left out.

  2. Looking at notes, on cards or paper, can be frustrating and fearful for some.

  3. Recalling the words the “Note” is supposed to trigger can be stressful.

  4. “What did I mean when I wrote that?”

  5. It is easier to ‘keep your place’ when those words are highlighted.

  6. Having all the words of a speech on a teleprompter can lessen the Fear of Public Speaking many people share.

  7. If the speaker disciplines themselves to deliver only what the teleprompter shows, they are less likely to go “off script.”

  8. Going off script can sometimes play havoc with the message and time constraints.

  9. Rather than holding note cards or paper, the teleprompter allows the speaker to ‘look out’ towards the audience.

  10. This can be huge! Have you ever watched someone looking down and reading their speech? Terrible!

Recently, we’ve been watching election speeches, formal and informal, with and without a teleprompter. Many of the people who spoke, at both conventions, were not professional speakers. Most used a teleprompter, probably did not have a lot of time to practice with the device, and did extremely well. It was all the more impressive when considering the size of the audience, and potential importance of their speeches.

Some Downsides to Using Teleprompters.

  1. For most, ‘authenticity’ a word used in the campaigns, is hard to convey when reading a script, word-for-word.

  2. The candidate/speaker literally comes across as being ‘scripted.’

  3. I believe Mr. Trump, had he started his campaign journey using one, would not be the candidate of his party. His unscripted, authentic delivery, appealed to many.

  4. Delivery trumps (no pun intended) content in a presentation.

  5. Mrs. Clinton, even though some of her speeches were delivered many times, often looked and sounded as if she was reading them. She appeared to many as not authentic.

  6. Using teleprompters means remaining stationary and usually standing behind a lectern.

  7. A lectern forms a physical and emotional barrier between the speaker and audience.

  8. Some lecterns are so high that hand and arm gestures are hard to see. The speaker can be seen as, literally, a ‘talking head!’

  9. Just because your speech is in front of you, doesn’t mean it should not be practiced.

  10. Since delivery trumps content, all the elements of communication, verbal and nonverbal, need to be practiced.

If the decision is between note cards or a teleprompter, the choice depends on:

  1. How long is the speech?

  2. How well the speaker knows it?

  3. How many times it is practiced?

Another option for notes is a Mind Map, a non-linear, visual, brainstorming tool that is perfect for developing, practicing, and delivering presentations.

If slides will be in the presentation, images on the slides and notes in the Notes Section of Presenter’s Mode can serve well for delivering a great presentation.

Lots to choose from here! Try a few. Practice! – Practice! – Practice!

Do that, and your next presentation will be – NO SWEAT!

—————————————————————————————————————————————————– About the Author Fred E. Miller is a speaker, a coach, and the author of the book, “NO SWEAT Public Speaking!” and “NO SWEAT Elevator Speech!”

Businesses, Individuals, and Organizations hire him because they want to improve their Networking, Public Speaking, and Presentation Skills.

They do this because they know: Speaking Opportunities are Business, Career, and Leadership Opportunities.

They also know: We perceive really great speakers to be Experts, and we like to work with Experts.

He shows them how to: Develop, Practice, and Deliver ‘Knock Your Socks Off Presentations!’ with – NO SWEAT!


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  1. Lessening The Fear of Public Speaking with – NO SWEAT!

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