Teleprompter operators praise new book

Teleprompter operators have praised the new book "On-The-Job Speech Training" by author and speech coach Ray Franklin. Available now on as an ebook for $3.98.

Here is the teleprompter section.

Using a teleprompter

 My greatest experiences using teleprompters happened when I was working with President Ronald Reagan. President Reagan could look over the script once and deliver a very convincing speech using a teleprompter.

There are two types of teleprompters:

  • TV newscasters use an over-the-camera-lens prompter.
  • Politicians use the “presidential” model with two pieces of glass astride a lectern. The glass reflects an image of a video monitor on the floor below. This image is controlled by an operator backstage.

Using a teleprompter takes practice, starting with the way you format your prompter script.


Have the prompter operator insert stage directions in a different color or with special marks indicating DO NOT READ THESE INSTRUCTIONS. <PAUSE FOR EMPHASIS> is one of my favorite stage directions or reminders in a teleprompter script.

Make generous use of new paragraphs in a prompter script. Any trained operator will do this automatically.

Setting up the prompter

As with graphics monitors, teleprompter monitors on the floor near the stage should be placed as high off the floor as possible, so the audience doesn't see the top of your head every time you look down. Just as with a script on a lectern, practice your presentation so you can look down at the next thought and look up to deliver the message.

At TV awards shows, the teleprompter is on a big-screen TV 100 feet in the audience near the principal camera. That way it looks as if everyone is talking to the camera.

Corporate clients don’t like this concept. They feel it gives away the teleprompter and distracts the audience.

In my experience, the audience will at first be intrigued by the prompters at the start of a well-rehearsed and meaningful presentation. Soon, however, they will focus on the stage, your message, and graphics.

You will always want to rehearse a teleprompter script out loud. For some strange reason, all the preparation in the world will always be tested by a live rehearsal. The operator will discover your pacing, phrasing, and speed. You will discover how to bring the message alive while seeming NOT to read.

Teleprompter tips

  • Write your script to be read aloud, using your own words or phrases, to tell your stories.
  • Rehearse, rehearse and rehearse. Make sure the same person is running the equipment during your rehearsal and speech.
  • Ensure the prompter monitors are set off at such an angle that you can appear to be looking at your real audience while reading.
  • Although there are two monitors, don’t forget to talk to the audience between them. If you only look right and left, it will be further evidence you are reading.
  • Keep a copy of the current script on the lectern or with someone off stage in case of equipment failure.
  • If you keep a copy of the script on the lectern, have the prompter operator insert a symbol in the prompter (*) indicating page change. If you need the script, you will at least be on the right page.

Teleprompters are for a complete speech – NOT NOTES. A good prompter operator is like a pianist accompanying your singing. They move at your pace, not vice versa. Try it. If you speed up, so will the text in front of you. If you slow down, or pause, so will the script.

The operator can only see the few words displayed on the screen. If you use bullet points, or miss a point, the operator won’t be able to “accompany” you. They will be lost until you return to the words on the screen.

Ad-libs when using teleprompter copy are dangerous. Insert <AD LIB - story about the three horses walking into a bar> then return to the script. The prompter operator will wait for you to tell your story, and then get back on script. You must return to the script right after the ad-libs. Otherwise, the operator will be lost, and you will be embarrassed.

Read the script as it rolls on the prompter. If it is good enough for the prompter, then read it that way. Don't challenge yourself and the operator by paraphrasing the message or juggling the words.