Reading Autocue

Or Teleprompter or whatever

When you’re talking to camera, you should aim to look and sound as natural as possibe. The viewer should feel as if you’re talking to him or her, not to a machine – or worse, to an audience. But do you know how you talk to somebody? You’ve probably never thought about it. For a start, it’s just one thought, one sentence. No complicated convolutions, please. And defininely no hanging clauses. More importantly, you need to ‘replicate the gaps’! Observe two people chatting. It’s a two way street. But your ‘chat to camera’ will be a one-way street. Try to make it sound natural by sticking to the ‘one thought, one sentence’ rule. And here’s a thought that might sound surprising at first: after each thought, pause. In normal speech, there are big gaps before and after each bit of data. The speaker pauses because he or she is thinking, ‘How shall I phrase this bit of information?’. The listener doesn’t notice the pause because he’s digesting the previous sentence and working out how it relates to him. Neither person notices the quite considerable pause. But. If you’re using an autocue or teleprompter or whatever, you know what to say and how to say it. You don’t have to think about how to phrase a sentence. I’ve seen many. many new presenters use a teleprompter for the first time, and nearly all gabble away like a runaway train.

Enough for now – go and interview somebody

You have to learn to speak in little packets of information, with holes in between. Normal speed for a relaxed conversation is about three words a second.You can try it without an autocue. Get hold of a book and read a longish paragraph aloud. Record the result on whatever machine you have to hand – most telephones are fine for the task.Now count the words and see if you were faster or slower than the optimum speed.

We Ask the Questions – Interviewing