Delivering a speech to an audience can make the most confident person nervous. Doing it in front of a camera can feel down right strange. Not having that the immediate response from a listener can impact both the energy and expression of your message. And a long speech can be difficult to memorize, putting further stress on the delivery and making for a challenging experience.
For these one on one messages, where you want to connect directly with the audience by speaking into the camera, we love using a teleprompter.
Teleprompters are a pretty simple tool. They work by placing an angled glass in front of the camera lens to reflect the speech back to the reader. This text however remains invisible to the camera allowing the talent to maintain eye contact with the camera while having their script in front of them.
Here are a few tips to help you nail your next teleprompter read.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Practice reading your script out loud before the recording session. We tend to write for readers, aka skimmers. The audience, most likely, will not have the script in front of them so it is important to write in such a way that sounds natural to the those listening. And if you get to the point where something doesn’t sound right. Change it. Most teleprompter software will allow you to fix it on the go. It's good to point out here that any script changes may need to be approved by a legal team. If that isn’t possible we suggest filming it both ways. Just to make sure you are covered. Also plan to arrive early. That will often give you a little practice time with the teleprompter while the crew is finishing the lighting set up.
Over the Top Energy is Okay
Pushing energy doesn't feel natural and personally it can feel a bit over the top, but that's okay. The camera needs you to fully express yourself in order to capture the energy and passion of the piece and translate it onto the screen. Your directors will help with delivery tone, more times than not bigger will be better.
Smile and Eye Contact
In most communication smiling and eye contact builds trust and encourages people to connect with you. Have you ever noticed how you can hear if someone on the other end of a phone line is smiling? The camera and audio will record the tone differently based on whether or not you are smiling. Sometimes these messages have a serious tone and smiling like you've won first place at the county fair will not support your message, balance is key, your goal is have them connect with you the person so your message is received.
Don't Follow the Teleprompter
Yes, this does seem like a strange tip. What I mean is you can trust that the words will be there when you need them. You don't need to speed up or slow down to follow the teleprompter. The operator will make the adjustments to match your speed. You shouldn't feel the need to rush to catch up with the words or slow down to have the words catch up to you. You and the operator will find a balance so you can focus on your delivery.
Use Non Verbal Communication
Be yourself. If you want to talk with your hands, if you need to add a few extra "ums", if you like to pause for effect... do it. The more natural you feel delivering your speech the more natural it will come across to your audience. This may be in conflict with what your director is looking for. We suggest capturing it both ways. You'll end up with exactly what you need.
Good luck with your next teleprompter read! If you have any tips we can add to our list please share.
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