‘Unscripted’, ‘authentic’, ‘spontaneous’, ‘extemporaneous’ – this is the mantra of a new generation of online video producers. Unscripted is a great way to shoot video… sometimes.

Image this scenario: You’ve hired a camera crew, a studio, some special equipment and your senior spokesperson/presenter is ready to go. You’ve given your presenter speaking notes – and he assures he doesn’t need them. A couple hours into the shoot everyone including the presenter realizes it’s not going well. The presenter decides maybe he should refer to the notes, but now he can’t deliver them well because he can’t memorize them and they are not his words. What do you do?

Short form, off the cuff video segments are becoming more popular today as companies look to build their brands by communicating in a less formal manner and by trying to engage their audience using a more personal approach. Corporate presentations and company overviews lend themselves well to this format where an exec and/or staff member might deliver an unscripted, but heartfelt explanation of what makes their company great.

You can be successful with this style of video production if you have a good plan for what you want to get out of the video (and how you will be delivering it), a smart set of talking points to reference and a good presenter who is comfortable with this unscripted format. If on the other hand, you are shooting a detailed product demo or a particularly long or complicated presentation or if you have a presenter who does not have a lot of experience in front of a camera you should consider renting a teleprompter.

These are some of the situations where a teleprompter is well worth the investment:

1. Using a professional presenter/actor. If the presenter is not a subject matter expert then they either have to memorize a script (which is very difficult to do well) or read from a teleprompter.

2. Long presentations. The longer the video and the longer each speaking piece in the video is, the greater the need for a teleprompter. You only have to sit through one session where the presenter continues to stumble over the correct delivery for a prolonged period of time to wish you had invested in a teleprompter.

3. Complex presentations. Product demos, technical presentations and presentations that require a lot of different verbal and physical actions to happen at the same time would benefit from the use of a teleprompter. Product managers and business owners know their products better than anyone but that does not guarantee that they can give you a fluid and professional read if the verbal requirements are complex.

4. Experience in front of a camera. Your best trade show guy might be a crackerjack pitchman in front of an audience (large or small) but that can all change quickly when they are asked to talk to a camera under the glare of lights and no one there to provide feedback. {Shooting them talking to someone on screen (or off) may be a good compromise if that style suits your business needs.}

5. Failure is not an option. {This may be the best reason to consider renting a teleprompter}.  If you’re investing a lot of time and effort for a video shoot (which is usually always the case), if you have asked for senior exec’s or business owners time to shoot the video or if you are working to a tight deadline (which is always the case) the availability of a teleprompter might just save the day. 

The problem is that unless you have seen the presenter on camera before you won’t know how the unscripted format is going to go. Your video production company should be able to guide you on when and where to use a teleprompter but if you are doing the video yourself you should be able to rent a teleprompter and an equipment rental shop for between $300 and $500 for a half day (This includes a teleprompter operator – the person who loads and keeps the onscreen text moving). Conversely you can buy the equipment and software yourself for under $1,000.00. If you plan on doing a fair amount of in-house video then this may be a good option. You’ll just have to train someone on how to use the software (it is not difficult to learn).




2 thoughts on “When should you use a Teleprompter

  1. To successfully get there, teleprompter is urgently needed. The teleprompter rental company usually provides a selection of teleprompter types in a friendly budget.

  2. We bought a teleprompter device for less than $150 on amazon and used free software on the boss’ iPad. It worked great!

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