Use a Teleprompter Like a Network News Anchor
If it hasn’t happened to you already, it is going to happen to you soon. I have been seeing it everywhere in the workplace and that is the rise of the teleprompter. In fact, there are applications that you can download on your phone or your iPad and it will act like a teleprompter for you. You type in your script and it scrolls in the screen so that you can read it. You can have it right next to your camera so you are looking into the lens. Prime ministers, presidents, newscasters, all use them because they want to read while looking up at the people or the camera. Sounds great, right? You no longer have to remember your speech and neither do you have a paper in your hand. Why wouldn’t you use it all the time?
It is not that simple. My recommendation is to not use a teleprompter most of the time in most situations. If you are a Prime Minister or a President of your country or you are a finance minister, any word that comes out of your mouth is analyzed, sliced, and diced, and it has the potential to cause a great deal of scandal and turmoil. In such a case, it is okay for you to use a teleprompter so you don’t make any mistakes. But if you are the CEO of a business, the biggest danger in your speaking is not that your words get taken out of context and cause a scandal but that your listeners remember what you say. So let’s focus on what actually matters to you.
My recommendation in terms of body language is that using a teleprompter makes everything a lot more difficult. We are used to reading from books or devices. It is very different to read in a room full of people who are all staring at you and listening to you. It is a very unnatural thing to read from 10 feet away in front of other people and the presenter starts to sound incredibly robotic which is extremely awful.
Here is what you need to know from a body language standpoint if you do want to use a teleprompter. It all comes down to five tips. Tip number one: you need to vary your speed when you are speaking. Most people ignore this and sound monotonous.
Next tip: you have to sometimes be louder, and other times be softer, because that’s how people talk when they are engaged in an interesting conversation. Most people, when reading from a teleprompter, their voice comes out at the same volume and they end up sounding robotic which leads the audience to feel like they should rather check their email.
The other thing you have to do is that you have to use your body. Your hands and your head need to move particularly. Because when you are reading with your head locked in a certain position, it becomes very noticeable that only your eyes are moving and that you are just reading. You have to make your eye movement undetectable by making it a small part of the many purposeful movements you are making.
The fourth tip: you have to pause from time to time. Normally, when someone is finishing a thought or idea and want to transition into another, they will stop for a few seconds. This will make you sound real and conversational, and not candid. Instead of following the speed of the teleprompter, you have to make the teleprompter follow you. Otherwise, you will end up with a monotonous and robotic product that no one will want to listen to. That is the problem with these cheap teleprompter apps, you cannot adjust the speed.
The fifth thing to take care of is that you need to rehearse. It is very easy to trip in a word when using a teleprompter and you want to avoid it by putting in more practice time than normal. Do not give a teleprompter speech in real life until you have seen yourself do it on video and are satisfied with it.
If you make a mistake, do not act like you are traumatized. Correct yourself, and keep going. And that is how you use a teleprompter.
The Real Way to Improve Your Body Language Confidence
This is something I ask most of my students in my communications class to do, and less than one percent of them end up doing it. I want you to take a topic that you have to talk about or have talked about in the past in your workplace, record yourself speaking on it on video, and keep doing it until you have refined it. Then, once you have come up with the best version of it, put it on YouTube or Facebook, or any private platform, and post it right here in the discussion section. I promise you that I will look at it, and I will give you feedback on your body language.
If you are going to read a script, you will seem like a robot and it will be obvious. But I will look at it and give you my honest opinion. Now to help you and save everyone’s time, do not just do it one time and put it up there. You have had a lifetime of experience at looking at awkward, nervous people at school and at your workplace. You already know what you like and what you do not look like. If you see that in your video, change it and do it again.
Your video can be twenty seconds long for all it matters. I will critique it, your fellows may critique it, and it will all be for your betterment. No one’s here to make fun of each other, we are all here to learn and become better at dealing with our issues. I will highly appreciate it if you do this and it will make me feel satisfied that I have helped you substantially rather than just giving you advice.