Business Videos: should one use a teleprompter?

I just recently finished reading a book The Teleprompter Manual by Laurie Brown. It was a quick read. Laurie did a good job telling some history behind the teleprompter as well as what types of teleprompters are there to be used. And this book inspired me to talk today about small business owners’s videos and should they use a teleprompter when talking about their business on camera? Well…yes and no (what a great answer! ).

Having produced a series of marketing videos for businesses here in the Bay Area, I would say that it all depends on a situation and personality. I found out that a dialog that’s been scripted and prepared in advance is much easier for people to read off of a teleprompter. It is very difficult to remember exactly what you want to say, think about how you look on camera and then you become stiff because you imagine a million viewers watching you…all these thoughts running through your head block your memory, and trials to memorize the script often fail. So there is no point of stressing out - teleprompter can help tremendously. Of course, you can always take the improvisation route. This works for some people and it makes the person look and feel very natural once the inner voice and body language are found. One drawback that applies to most of the people (because not all of us are natural at speaking fluently to the (imaginable) audience) is that a lot of business owners are too self-conscious and end up taking a lot of takes if they mess up or said things that didn’t sound right to them. This type of video recording might take longer than planned.

But if you are using a teleprompter, here are some tips what to pay attention to (and believe me, these tips are easier to remember than the whole dialog you have to say):

* When you read off of a teleprompter you have to try and be as conversational as possible in your voice

* Do not frown if the letters are too small, instead, ask the video producer to make the font bigger

* Also do not worry if you mess up: pause and pick up from the top of the sentence – post production work can do wonders and no one will even notice where you made an error .

So just relax and tell a story that’s been prepared by your marketing team. And have fun!

Now the second category of people are the ones who just don’t feel natural when talking into camera (with or without teleprompter)- no matter how much training they get, they just stiffen up. As soon as the Rec button is pushed, the person changes. These perople tend to favor interview format for the dialog: they look slightly off camera and they are being asked a question (which is not heard in the video). These types of videos often sound more natural and comfortable because the person is looking at the interviewer and is not worried that there are millions of viewers in that little camera lens . To minimize the post production time, I would advise to not go over the top with the number of questions. Questions need to be prepared in advance and targeted to get out the message that you want to have in the video. It’s a marketing video, the purpose of which is to help bring more customers to the business.

Whatever format you or your clients choose to go with, please remember, you can always take as many takes as you need to nail down the look and sound. It might be more costly, but it’s possible to get what you want . But I can assure you, that after first 2 attempts to look natural and sound natural on camera (either with or without a teleprompter), you’ll be fine. You’ll have relaxed and found your inner self that you want to portray in the video.

And if you want to practice on your own before a professional video shoot, there are some teleprompter apps for Apple and Droid phones/tablets. The one I use for my clients is called Android Prompt. It doesn’t have a mirror feature (handy for real teleprompter set up), but it has speed and font size controls and black or white background to choose from. Very simple and straight forward and my clients never had a problem reading off of a tablet prompter .

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