10 Top Tips for using Teleprompter/Autocue at a conference or live event
Continuing this series of tips about using Autocue or Teleprompter what about a conference, or similar event where there is an audience?
The difference here is that instead of looking straight in to the camera lens, the script is reflected from floor monitors up on to glass screens placed in front of the speaker. You will be familiar with those screens (once believed to be bullet proof protection!), and used very skillfully by Tony Blair and Barack Obama. If you want to get an idea what your speech looks like on a teleprompter screen see Using Teleprompter/Autocue free
The screens are placed either side of the speaker at about a 45 degree angle The reflected script is visible to the speaker, but of course invisible to the audience who are on the other side of the screens.
- The key thing to remember with these screens is to check if they are in the right place for you to see them, but also a good portion of the audience is behind them
- If they are placed so that your eye line is above the audience, this gives the impression you are aloof, and can’t bear to look at your audience
- Alternatively if they are too low you may be speaking to the front rows but ignoring the back.
- If they are too wide apart it could give the appearance you are talking to the walls!
- Ideally they should be placed so that a good proportion of the audience to your left and right are behind the screen. Then when you look at the glass and read the script the impression is given that you are speaking directly to that portion of the audience.
- The exact position of the screens depends on the size of the audience, shape of the auditorium, rake seating, or a stage for the speaker
- Switch betweeen the two screens about every 5 to 10 seconds.
- Remember that you will have a favourite side probably linked to your dominant eye, so try to even things up.
- Have a hard copy of the script nearby in case of problems. I’ve had blank screens, jumbled up words, a virus in the software, and a power failure. Often for big occasions there’s a parallel system running as a back up, but you may not have that, so a good old paper script or bullet points comes in really handy.
- Finally delivering a speech or presentation using Autocue isn’t an excuse to avoid preparation. It’s human nature to think all you have to do is read it, and the audience will get the message. But we’ve all watched dire presentations where someone has gone through the motions, read from the two glass panels and bored everyone. To be successful you need to be so convincing the audience forget the panels are there, and you appear to be talking “off the cuff”
Of course, this presumes you are speaking from a fixed point, such as a lectern. The alternative is to place the monitors on stands at the side of the audience, and perhaps a large one behind the back row. The same principles apply – just watch out though. If you stare at the monitors too intently members of your audience will turn round to see what you are looking at. See How to Rehearse with Teleprompt/Autocue for a Conference