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How Teleprompters Work

The Television Prompting Apparatus

The first patent for the "Television prompting apparatus" was filed in 1949. The patent states, "My present invention relates to apparatus for use out of range of the cameras in a television or-motion picture studio for prompting or continuously presenting to the performers view the running script of the dialogue or narrative being telecast or filmed." They were initially used in the television/broadcast industry on production sets to assist actors in delivering their lines.

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Teleprompters were later commonly used in Presidential speeches and addresses. "Presidential" teleprompters, which are used when giving speeches to live audiences, look a bit different from studio prompters. Usually used in pairs, Presidential teleprompters place the reflective glass on top of long poles stemming from a box that contains a screen and hardware. The glass reflects the contents of the screen to the presenter.



Modern Teleprompters

A typical, modern teleprompter has a digital screen and a mirror (beamsplitter glass). The screen is usually special hardware or a tablet-like device. The screen displays the text, and an angled mirror reflects the text back to the reader. The display text is usually controlled with software such as Speakflow. 

If the presenter is speaking to a camera, the mirror is placed in front of the lens. Then, as the presenter reads the script, the text progresses. This allows presenters to keep eye contact with their audience, which helps to create a more engaging experience for the viewers. When used properly, presenters come across as more knowledgeable and confident, increasing their credibility.

When used properly, presenters come across as more knowledgeable and confident, increasing their credibility.

Benefits of using one

A teleprompter can make speeches more polished and error-free. They’re used in a variety of settings, such as in stage performances, corporate meetings, and even in classrooms. They allow for a more natural flow of conversation, as the speaker can pause and take a breath without worrying about messing up their lines. And they help keep the presentation on track, ensuring that the speaker remains focused, and helping to keep the audience engaged.

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