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If you have to use an auto cue or teleprompter

The other day I went into the studio to record some short video clips for my website. As part of the process I wrote three scripts and emailed them to the videographer so that they were loaded onto an auto-cue ready for the shoot.

I don’t know about you but, despite having given thousands of speeches and presentations, I have never used an auto-cue before and I was a bit nervous.

In front of the camera there was a sloping glass screen upon which my words magically appeared, scrolling up the page as I spoke.

To be honest I had some reservations about using the auto cue. I feared that it might make me sound robotic and flat but thankfully this wasn’t the case and I was very pleased with the end result.

I learned a lot in the process so I thought I’d share my top tips for getting the most out of using an auto cue.

1) Prepare and rehearse your scrips well in advance. Spoken English is quite different from written English so it’s important that your scrips are natural and authentic.   Rehearsing and editing the script so that it flows naturally will help you when it comes to using the auto-cue live.

2) Practice! The more you practice your script the more natural and comfortable you will sound. If you happen to have an iPad there is a great auto cue app called teleprompt that turns your device into an auto cue.

3) Don’t be a slave to the auto cue.  Despite having edited and rehearsed your presentation before you go live, you may still feel the need to tweak the words you use on the fly. Changing the odd word is fine but don’t deviate big time otherwise you will lose your place and the auto cue operator will blow a fuse!

4) Get to know the person operating the auto cue in advance. They will be controlling the speed at which the text flows up the screen and building a rapport with them is vital if you want a stress free speech. If they are on your side they will pay clops attention to your speed of speech, pauses etc and will speed up, slow down or pause your script as you speed to keep the words that you are saying in the centre of the screen.

5) my fifth and last tip is relax and enjoy it. If you are in front of a live audience, remember that they are your focus not the technology. If you are in a studio, imagine your audience behind the technology. Your aim is to connect with them ins naturals and authentic a manner as possible.

I used to think that an auto-cue was an unnecessary crutch for poorly prepared presenters but now I realise that it has it’s place.

Like anything else you still need to prepare and practice if you are going to make the most of it.

Gavin Meikle
The Presentation Doctor.

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