As a broadcast educator, it’s your responsibility to teach the teleprompter operator effectively in order to run a smooth, engaging broadcast.
So, what does the teleprompter operator need to be able to do? There are three important competencies that a teleprompter operator must have in order to fulfill the crucial role they play in running a live production broadcast.
1. Be technically competent
Most importantly, they should have a thorough understanding of the teleprompter software and how to operate it. This checklist highlights the basic technical competencies:
Loading the script
Do you know how to load the proper script?
How do you start the teleprompter scroll?
How do you scroll the teleprompter script forward?
How do you scroll the teleprompter script backward?
How do you pause the teleprompter scroll?
How do you control the speed of the forward scroll?
How do you control the speed of the backward scroll?
How do you skip ahead to the next story or script?
How do you skip back to the previous story or script?
How do you skip to the beginning of your story, script or show?
How do you skip to the end of your story script or show?
2. Get in sync with on-camera talent
However, a great teleprompter operator isn’t just expected to load, control, and change the script. They must also be able to adapt the teleprompter software to the on-camera talent’s style of speech, so the latter can speak smoothly and naturally.
Each on-camera talent has a unique teleprompter reading speed and preferences. Teleprompter operators must cultivate the ability to communicate with the talent to ensure the scrolling speed, font size, and text positioning is suited everyone’s unique speaking style.
For teleprompter operators seeking to establish this rapport with the on-camera talent, there is no substitute for practice. The teleprompter operator should rehearse with the talent and be sure to practice or acknowledge realistic pauses to read live voice-over copy, play video elements such as your video Sound on Tape (SOT) segments, along with video package stories and transitions to different stories and commercial breaks.
3. Establish damage control processes
Of course, things do not always go as planned during live production. For example, what do you do if something there’s an issue during live production and, for whatever reason, you need to skip ahead to the next story? Your teleprompter operator must be able to work with their team and put a plan in place that address any potential on-air issues.
Your school’s newscast production, including teleprompter operation, is an exciting event that requires coordinated planning, preparation and execution. It certainly goes far beyond knowing how to operate the teleprompter itself – being able to effectively communicate with on-camera talent and having a plan in case the live broadcast goes awry are just as important factors in the execution of a smooth, engaging live production.