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by Melanie Novis

Melanie Novis


Barack Obama does it when he speaks, and so does Bill Clinton. Ronald Reagan did it with great success. They all mastered the ability to deliver a message with eloquence, dignity, authority and passion. There is one other component which they embraced that led to their successful presentations. They all used a teleprompter.

If you have ever watched Obama delivering a speech, you will have noticed that he frequently makes eye contact with one side of the audience and then switches to the other. He does so in an easy, skilful and seamless fashion. If you were in the audience, you would have noticed two screens on either side of the speaker's lectern. Obama would have been using a teleprompter, a device which displays an electronic version of his speech notes onto transparent screens. The speech is reflected onto the screens, and the words can only be seen by the speaker.

You may not be the current or past president of the United States of America, but there is no reason why you cannot be as respected on the podium as these leaders are.

Mastering the teleprompter can be learned by using ten easy steps...

1. As you prepare, read the script aloud prior to the rehearsal to familiarize yourself with it. The speech should sound like spoken language and be written in a conversational style. Practice frequently so that you can internalize the script and deliver it with meaning.

2. Smile to connect with and captivate the audience. Engage everyone on the audience by making eye contact beyond the teleprompter margin. Look through the screen as you deliver your words. Soften your eyes to avoid that "deer in the headlights" look.

3. Turn your head and body from one side to the other at intervals of 5 to 9 seconds , so that you address different segments of the audience.

4. Ensure that the height of the screens are adjusted to suit your stature, and make certain that they are in the best position for you to read with ease.

5. Rehearse with your operator so that he/she becomes familiar with your pacing and your style .You are in control and the operator will follow your speech as he scrolls the words.

6. Let the operator know at which point in your script you plan to ad lib.

7. Use vocal variety. Annotate your script with markings such as, bolding the important words, or using ........ to indicate a pause. Take a breath during the pause.

8. Stay focussed on the message and be authentic. Be yourself.

9. Use appropriate gestures to bring life to your words.

10. Energy and enthusiasm will convey your passion and engage your audience.

Now that you have the 10 tips, remember there is an important precaution that you need to take: Have a backup plan in case the teleprompter fails. Bring along a paper script of your speech. You will then be able to switch effortlessly from screen to paper and continue delivering your message with winning flair.

With these tips you may not become the president of the nation, but you can become master of the teleprompter.

Written by, Melanie Novis, President of Corporate Speech Consultants, professional speech and communication coach to Fortune 500 executives and some of Canada's most recognized personalities. Melanie Novis is an award winning instructor at the University of Toronto and author of one of the country's premier texts on the subject, Canadian Public Speaking.

Contact information:

Melanie Novis,
Corporate Speech Consultants,
19 Madison Avenue,
Toronto, Ontario,
Canada, M5R 2S2.
Telephone: 416-483-5866