Yes, We Have a Teleprompter. And Yes, You Can Use It To Shoot Your Video, But SHOULD You?
Every time someone asks about using a teleprompter, I think about this story.
Years ago, I was in a pre-production meeting with one of my clients. We were planning to shoot a corporate video at their office the next day.
At the end of the meeting, the Chief Marketing Officer asked, “Will you have a teleprompter?”
I explained to him that it was really short notice. No one had mentioned needing a teleprompter, but I would do what I could to accommodate his request.
About 20 phone calls later, I managed to purchase a teleprompter. And I’ve had a love / hate relationship with it ever since.
So why should anyone use a teleprompter? Well, it enables people to READ the script while looking at the camera. There’s no forgetting of lines. No “ums” and “ers” while thinking about what to say.
It works well for LONG FORM content. When you’ve got a lot of script to cover, it can be a lifesaver.
And it enables WORD-FOR-WORD performances. If a script has been through legal, and approved with specific wording, that can come in pretty handy.
But there’s also a big downside to using a teleprompter, and that’s the performance itself. Very few people can READ naturally on camera.
No matter how much they practice, it comes across as wooden. They read differently than they normally speak.
For that matter, scripting is also a problem. People don’t usually speak in complete sentences.
Good writers can write scripts that sound natural and authentic, but it’s harder than people think.
Authenticity is Key
The best performances sound REAL and authentic. You don’t sound like you’re acting or reading, you’re just being yourself.
Nine times out of ten, when using a teleprompter, I’ll go through the script several times, get everything covered. And then I’ll say, “Let’s try it without the teleprompter.”
And that is the take (or takes) I will end up using. Another thing people don’t realize is you don’t have to get it perfect in one take. That’s what editing is for.
So do you PREFER using a teleprompter? That’s okay. I’m also a big believer in making clients comfortable.
If you feel better standing, you should definitely stand. If you’d rather sit down, that’s okay too.
All that matters is the end result—getting a video performance you can be proud of.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Harry Hayes is the owner and executive producer at Content Puppy Productions. Before starting his business, he spent 20+ years as an advertising writer and creative director.