Thinking on your feet is a lot harder when you’re in front of the camera. Luckily, there’s a simple way to help keep your commentary on track. If you’re a marketer who produces in-house videos, consider using a teleprompter for your next B2B video.
Here are a few reasons why:
- A teleprompter can help if you’re nervous on camera
- A teleprompter tightens your message
- A teleprompter speeds up the process
A lot of folks will tell you to avoid using a teleprompter so that your videos are more authentic. There is some truth to that, but mostly any drawbacks of using a teleprompter can be averted through proper techniques, which we’ll address at the end of the blog.
First, I have a confession. When I was a student at the University of Washington (way back in the day), I interned at KOMO 4 TV’s morning news show, which required me to get up around 3:45 a.m. The trouble was that I was also an editor for the student paper, which kept me there until about 11. Oh, and I also attended classes full time.
As you may guess, I got a little tired, and then I got a little crabby. One of my responsibilities for the show was running the teleprompter. Well … on more than one occasion one of the anchors said something that annoyed me and later regretted the comment once we went on air ‒ and I got a little revenge via the teleprompter. … Enough said.
OK, back to our discussion of improving your on-camera performance.
A teleprompter hides the camera
Many people get nervous speaking on camera. They freeze up, act awkward, or forget what they want to say. On more than one occasion, I’ve spent literally hours behind the camera, through take after take, attempting to record just a couple of minutes of usable video with an interviewee.
Well, believe it or not, a teleprompter can help make you more comfortable by hiding the camera so that you’re only seeing the script you created scrolling along (and, don’t worry, I’m not controlling the playback speed).
A teleprompter tightens your message
Somewhere along the way, this idea that winging what you say is more authentic became the advice of the trade. But, it’s simply not true. While there are some people who are naturally skilled at doing this, most are not. Our CEO, Andy MacMillan, is great in front of a camera and working without a teleprompter. I am not. I usually need about a dozen or more takes to be able to stitch together a 1-minute B2B video. Then, during editing, I realize I forgot to say one or more key points in the video. Ugh.
A teleprompter forces you to write a script. Most teleprompter apps also let you know what the estimated run time is for that script. This is great for helping you tighten your messaging. One of the biggest metrics for your videos should be viewer engagement (how much of the video are they watching), and I can tell you from experience that folks stop watching as you drift from thought to thought when not using a script.
With a teleprompter, you also save tons of time before, during, and after the video shoot. First, you don’t have to spend the energy memorizing a script. Second, you don’t have to spend an hour or more, through take after take, trying to get what you need recorded. And, third, you don’t have to spend a lot of time and effort in post-production editing all those takes into something you can use.
A teleprompter improves your performance
Teleprompters allow you to control the scrolling playback speed for the script. If people have told you that you are either a too-fast or a too-slow talker, you can correct for that by adjusting the playback speed. Listen to or think about narrators from your favorite movies or videos. They tend to have an even, Goldilocks-friendly pace – neither too fast nor too slow.
Because you’re just reading your script and not worrying about what to say next, you can focus on other aspects of your performance. This could include altering your tone to emphasize key points and avoid a monotone delivery.
One of the reasons why video is such a powerful sales and marketing tool is that it allows you to build personal connections with your prospects and customers. How you sound in the video is a key factor to building that connection.
Audio is a significant aspect of your own camera performance because it is the primary way you connect with your audience.
Likewise, using a teleprompter and a script gives you the ability to delegate your energies. Instead of worrying about what to say next, you can focus on other key presentation tactics such as your posture or how you use your arms and hands.
If you’ve made it this far, you probably want to know how to get a teleprompter for your next video, as well as some best practices for making the most of it.
You can rent one of these handy devices from your local camera and video rental shop, or you can check with your local event production company. You can also hack one together using a laptop, tablet or computer monitor, and your preferred presentation software (PowerPoint, Keynote, etc.). Or, you can buy a teleprompter online. We’ve purchased this one for $139 on Amazon, and it required about 10 minutes to assemble. There are dozens more choices to choose from.
Most inexpensive teleprompters that you buy will require you use a tablet that sits in front of the teleprompter and projects your scrolling text up to the reflective glass. We bought an inexpensive refurbished iPad that does the trick. From there, we purchased the Teleprompt+ 3 app for about $20.
The app allows you to load your scripts from Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, or iTunes File Sharing, or just cut and paste them into the program. I don’t mess around with the default settings other than to adjust the playback speed. The app also can be downloaded to your smartphone, which you can then use as a playback speed controller once you sync the two. This is more trouble than its worth (remember my earlier suggestion).
When you’re ready to record your B2B video, have your subject read the script aloud one time. This does two things. First, you can find what their preferred playback speed should be; and, second, it allows them to familiarize themselves with the script and how it plays back on the screen.
The next thing to do is have your subject stand about 7-10 feet away from the teleprompter. When folks criticize reading from a teleprompter as unauthentic, what they’re usually referring to are the subject’s eyes scanning side to side as they read the script. If your subject is too close to the camera, this becomes noticeable. So, move them farther away. Simple.
There will be times when your camera subject stumbles on a word or phrasing. This could be either their own error or how the script was written. You can easily continue filming. Just scroll the script backward to an earlier point and continue on.
If the camera starts rolling and you only have a vague idea of what you plan to say, you’re in trouble.
By using a teleprompter to aid your B2B video, you have a tool to help you appear confident, composed, and comfortable on camera, enabling you to build trust and confidence with your prospects and customers so that they’ll want to do business with you.