Unleash Event Success with Teleprompters and DSMs
Imagine being on stage, a sea of eager faces looking up at you, waiting for your words to weave their magic. You’re ready to make your mark, to inspire, to educate – but suddenly, there it is.
Do you look at your audience or glance at your notes?
THE HUMAN BRAIN STARTS WORKING THE MOMENT YOU ARE BORN AND NEVER STOPS UNTIL YOU STAND UP TO SPEAK IN PUBLIC.
– George Jessel
Comedian, Actor, Writer
Let’s talk Teleprompters and Downstage Monitors! This is where technology meets performance and connection. In this blog, we’ll discuss these unassuming yet indispensable tools that help speakers navigate the stage with grace, ensuring your message shines while connecting with your audience.
A teleprompter and a DSM are both tools that your speakers might use for their presentations, but they serve slightly different purposes:
What is a Teleprompter?
A teleprompter is a device that displays the script or text of a speech in front of the speaker, usually on a screen placed close to the speaker (or camera if for a virtual event). The text scrolls at a controlled pace, allowing the speaker to read the script while maintaining the appearance of looking directly at the camera or audience. Teleprompters are commonly used to help presenters deliver content smoothly without needing to memorize the entire script.
If you’re planning to use a teleprompter for a virtual event, work closely with your production company. They should ensure the setup is arranged so that your eyes aren’t darting left to right, making it conspicuous that you’re reading. They’ll know what to do to minimize this tell-tale sign!
What is a Downstage Monitor?
A downstage monitor, on the other hand, is a screen placed on the stage floor facing the presenter. It displays various visual aids, such as slides, videos, graphics, or notes, to assist the speaker during their presentation. The monitor is positioned in a way that allows the presenter to glance down at the stage floor to see the content without turning away from the audience. Downstage monitors help speakers stay on track with their content, maintain the flow of their presentation, and ensure proper synchronization with visual elements.
In essence, while both teleprompters and downstage monitors support presenters in delivering effective presentations, a teleprompter focuses on displaying the speech script to aid delivery, while a downstage monitor is used for displaying visual content and cues to streamline the overall presentation.
Why Not Merge the Tech?
This question is music to my ears! A DSM that eliminates the need for a separate teleprompter is ideal. The DSM provides both teleprompting and presenter view capabilities, delivering a modern solution that works extremely well. It enhances the presenter’s performance by allowing them to maintain eye contact with the audience, access their content, and engage with supporting information—all in a cohesive manner.
What About Speaker Resistance?
Whether it’s a live gathering or a virtual engagement, the role of teleprompters should never be underestimated. However, convincing a speaker who believes they don’t need a teleprompter can be a delicate process, as you may have to tippy toe around their ego.
Many speakers don’t believe they need this technology because they view it as a crutch – and they don’t want to risk of appearing to their audience as though they’re reading. However, the truth is that a teleprompter can help maintain accuracy, consistency, and time management while allowing them to focus more on engaging with the audience.
A teleprompter can help speakers deliver a flawless and engaging presentation, despite the complexity of the content.
Reasons for Using Teleprompters
Stay in Your Lane, Bro. Using a teleprompter eliminates the risk of forgetting important details or going off-script.
Avoid the Dreaded “Wrap it Up” Gesture. Avoid the moment where you glance up and your emcee is frantically drawing circles in the air. Teleprompters help presenters manage their time effectively by maintaining a consistent pace and ensuring that the presentation doesn’t run over the allocated time.
Frost the Presentation Cake. Without the need to memorize the entire script, presenters can invest more time in refining their delivery style, practicing gestures, and perfecting their tone of voice.
Pour on the Professional Mojo: Presenters who can maintain consistent eye contact with the audience while still delivering a well-prepared speech come across as more confident, knowledgeable, and therefore more professional.
Channel Your Inner Zen. A teleprompter can reduce the stress associated with forgetting lines or losing track of the presentation.
You Go, Control Freaks! Modern teleprompters allow for customization, as they can adjust the font size, color, and scrolling speed to match the speaker’s comfort level, making the text easy to read and follow.
The Audience Will Think You’re Singing to Them. The speaker can become comfortable using teleprompters during rehearsal, helping them develop a natural rhythm and avoiding the appearance of reading verbatim.
Um. What? Some presentations involve complex content that requires precise wording and explanations. A teleprompter helps the presenter accurately convey these details without stumbling over words or struggling to find the right phrasing.
No Hablo Ingles. For global events, presenters might need to deliver parts of their presentations in other languages. A teleprompter can assist by displaying the script in the desired language, helping presenters communicate effectively.
It’s important to note that while teleprompters offer several benefits, they should be used skillfully to maintain a natural and engaging delivery. Over-reliance on a teleprompter can lead to a robotic or disconnected presentation style. Skilled presenters often combine the advantages of a teleprompter with effective public speaking techniques to create an engaging presentation.
Types of Teleprompters
There are several types of teleprompters available for presenters, catering to different needs, budgets, and presentation setups. Here are some common types of teleprompters:
Traditional: Traditional teleprompters consist of a two-way mirror attached to a stand, with a monitor placed below the mirror. The text is reflected onto the mirror, allowing the presenter to read the script while looking directly at the camera or audience. The teleprompter operator is typically backstage, following along with the speaker.
Free-Standing: These are standalone teleprompter units that are positioned in front of the camera or the presenter. They usually consist of a monitor, a beam splitter glass or mirror, and adjustable height stands. They are portable and suitable for various presentation scenarios.
Tablet and Smartphone Teleprompter Apps: Teleprompter apps are available for tablets and smartphones, allowing presenters to use their own devices as teleprompters. The script scrolls on the device’s screen, and the presenter reads from it while maintaining eye contact with the audience or camera. Some apps also allow remote control of the scrolling speed and script.
Portable: These are compact and lightweight teleprompters that can be attached to a camera lens. They are popular for on-the-go filming and are suitable for small-scale presentations or vlogs.
Presidentials: Also known as speech teleprompters, these consist of two transparent glass panels placed on either side of the stage, reflecting the script for the presenter to read while facing the audience.
Software Teleprompters: These teleprompters rely on software installed on a laptop or desktop computer. The script scrolls on the computer screen, and the presenter reads from it while looking at the camera or audience. These offer customization options and can be useful for virtual presentations and online videos.
When choosing a teleprompter, consider factors such as the presentation environment, the type of content being presented, the level of customization required, and the presenter’s comfort and familiarity with the technology. Additionally, ensure that the teleprompter you choose is compatible with the equipment you’ll be using, such as cameras, smartphones, or tablets.
Uses for Downstage Monitors
A downstage monitor (DSM), also known as a confidence monitor or stage monitor, is a display screen positioned on the stage floor, facing the presenter or speaker. Its purpose is to provide the presenter with a view of visual content, such as slides, videos, graphics, notes, or timing cues, while they are delivering a presentation. The term “downstage” refers to the area of the stage closest to the audience.
DSMs are commonly used in live events, conferences, and performances where the presenter needs to reference visual aids while maintaining engagement with the audience. The monitor allows the presenter to stay connected with the listeners while seamlessly integrating visual elements into their speech.
These monitors are especially useful when presenters need to ensure that their speech aligns with specific slides or timing cues. They provide a real-time reference, helping presenters maintain the flow of their presentation and make smooth transitions between different parts of their content. Presenters can choose from a variety of displays. For example, a speaker may want to see his script on one side of the display, while also getting a preview of the “next slide” that will come up on the main screen when he clicks to the next slide.
In essence, a DSM serves as a tool that aids presenters in delivering a polished and well-coordinated presentation by giving them immediate access to their visual content without breaking their connection with the audience.
Types of Downstage Monitors
There are a handful of types of DSMs designed to meet different needs and preferences:
Floor-Mounted: These are standard monitors placed on the stage floor, often in front of the presenter. They can display speaker slides, videos, notes, or timing cues to assist the speaker. These monitors come in various sizes and can be connected to laptops or media players.
In expansive stage settings, consider placing a DSM at each corner of the stage. This way, if a speaker moves back and forth across the stage, they can effortlessly catch a glimpse of the monitors, eliminating the need to rush to the opposite side or confine themselves to a single spot.
Cue Monitors: These monitors provide cues for speakers or performers, indicating when to enter or exit the stage, make a movement, or initiate an action.
Custom Monitors: Depending on the event’s requirements, custom downstage monitors can be created. These monitors may have unique shapes, sizes, or functionalities tailored to the specific theme or needs for the speaker.
Portable Monitor Solutions: In cases where the stage does not have downstage monitors, portable monitor solutions can be employed. These could include tablets, smaller screens on stands, or even wearable displays that speakers carry.
The choice of downstage monitor type depends on the nature of the presentation, the needs of the presenter, the available technology, and the stage setup. It’s important to choose the type that best suits the context and enhances the overall presentation and event.
Once your speakers agree to teleprompters and DSMs, they’ll stride onto the stage with the swagger of Steven Tyler just before launching into the song “Walk This Way”. These tech solutions will assist with a smooth, professional, and captivating delivery. So, as the curtains close on this blog, remember this: With DSMs and teleprompters guiding their words and ensuring their visuals hit the mark, your speakers will stand not only as presenters and educators – but as inspirers, creating engagement with every word, slide, and stride.