4 teleprompter guidelines for novice and veteran speakers

The technology helps politicians and newscasters speak fluidly to the audience without repeatedly looking down at a prepared text, but it’s not as simple as just reading a screen.

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There it is: your entire presentation, sitting in front of you on a teleprompter like a warm, comfortable, digital security blanket.

Politicians use them. Television hosts use them. Why shouldn’t you?

The most direct answer is that speaking from a teleprompter ishard. If most speakers who read from a prepared script sound like they’re reading from a script, imagine how much tougher it is to read one from two small panels of glass, flanked on the speaker’s left and right sides, located feet apart from one another.

Because it’s difficult for most speakers to develop a rapport with their audiences while using a teleprompter, we typically discourage their use. In limited circumstances, though, the teleprompter can be a useful tool. (An example: a high-stakes event at which the precision of your words—which will carry to a much broader audience outside the room—matters more than the connection you forge with the live audience inside the room.)

President Ronald Reagan, 1988, with a traditional “presidential” teleprompter setup (via Reagan Library)

Consider these guidelines when using a teleprompter:

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