Life would be easier in so many ways if we were told what was the right thing to say at every given opportunity.
There’d be a great deal fewer arguments with our significant others for one thing! At Boxset Media, when we’re out shooting interviews and the subject is either struggling to articulate a particular point or having difficulty remembering the correct order of core values their company embodies, the phrase they usually come out with is ‘I wish this was an autocue video!’
To use them by their correct term, Teleprompters are made up of a scrolling screen of text positioned below the camera, which is then reflected onto sheet of glass positioned in front of the video lens. The presenter then can read the text whilst looking directly into the camera as if they have memorised every word!
A staple in TV news and broadcasting in general, teleprompters are becoming increasingly common in corporate work too. But it’s not just a case of rolling up and reading a script word for word, using a teleprompter is a skill. So here are a few tips we’ve picked up over the years.
Speed and size matters
The main thing to remember is that the autocue works around the needs of the presenter, not the other way round. If the script is scrolling through too fast or too slow, it can be adjusted at any time. Teleprompters will have a dedicated operator to deal with things like this, so make friends with them! They’ll happily tailor it to your requirements and adjust on the fly if required.
Keep your distance
We recommend that the subject stands a decent distance away from the camera when delivering on a teleprompter, usually at least 3 metres away. Stand any closer and the left to right movement of your eyes would make it super obvious that you’re reading!
The teleprompter system we use on shoots is positioned directly in front of the camera, so when you’re reading your lines you look straight into the camera too. Some cheaper systems, like iPhone’s attached to the top of the camera, mean you have to look up and away from the camera when you read. Not a good idea, that only makes you look shifty! Go for a proper system instead.
Keep on movin’
If you’re like me, it takes a lot of concentration to read aloud and sound like you mean it! So it’s good to free up your body. If you naturally gesture with your hands, raise your eyebrows with emphasis or move your head as you stress particular points, make sure you don’t forget to do it. If you look frozen to the spot, people will see through you in no time!
Take time and practice!
There’s a chance that the words you’ll be reading have been written by someone else, so have a thorough read of the script beforehand and have a good few practice runs of reading out loud too. A good teleprompter operator will change the phrasing of any statements that sound a bit unnatural, it’s vital for the script to sound like your own words and that you mean every single one of them!
Relax and Smile!
The best thing about using a teleprompter is that you forget you’re being filmed. But the worst thing about using a teleprompter is that you forget you’re being filmed! Don’t forget to smile, don’t look gormless or confused, and keep your gaze throughout.
Using an autocue system isn’t for everyone, or for every situation. Using a teleprompter can be great for communicating detailed information, when specific details and accuracy matter. Company updates or sensitive communications are great examples. We wouldn’t recommend using a teleprompter video for situations when you’re aiming to capture naturalistic comments from people or express personal opinions though.
Our in house teleprompter system is very easy to set up and not intrusive in the slightest. Plus it doesn’t cost a fortune. If you think your corporate communications would benefit from a teleprompter, perhaps some regular video updates for your business, give us a call on 0845 680 7376 or email firstname.lastname@example.org