How Does a Teleprompter Work?

Teleprompter team
March 28, 2023
How Does a Teleprompter Work?
having conversation with children

Teleprompters replaced cue cards.

Ever wondered how teleprompters work to make speeches and presentations seamless? The first teleprompters were bulky pieces of equipment that didn’t spark joy! For instance, they required an additional person to stand beside the screen and operate the paddle so the text would scroll. Fast forward 74 years, we now have several types of this tech due to continued tinkering and modifications. In today's day and age, content creators may opt for specific types based on their content needs–or for karaoke! 

So, we’ll be looking at the main four main types, and they are: 

  • Camera-mounted
  • Floor aka standing
  • Presidential aka podium
  • Software-based

Camera-Mounted Teleprompter

Camera-Mounted Teleprompter, how does a teleprompter work

The main reason behind the popularity of camera-mounted teleprompters is how easy to use they are. You can mount your device directly on the camera. That way, the speaker looks through the text, and even as they read, at their audience. 

What makes that possible? The secret is beam splitting glass! Once you place it over the lens at a specific angle, this glass will reflect the text on your screen onto the camera’s lens.

Floor Teleprompters

An alternative teleprompting choice, this type is flexible enough so you can:

  • Place it on the floor at an angle
  • Mount it on stands
  • Hang it at the back of a room

However, while their flexibility is a plus, floor teleprompters aren’t suitable for every public speaking event or content creation opportunity–stick around to find out why!

Presidential Teleprompters

Presidential Teleprompters

Your presidential teleprompter consists of a clear mirror mounted on a pole. It comes in pairs–left and right–so the speaker can address everyone in the room. You usually see presidential candidates use them for debates. Additionally, you need someone backstage to control this teleprompter’s activities. But, unfortunately, no one can control how truthful the speaker reading off the teleprompter is going to be!  

Software Teleprompters

software teleprompter

Available for various platforms and devices, such as Mac, Android, mobile, tablets, and as an  iPad teleprompter, the software model is like the camera-mounted version with one exception–it has an iPad/mobile device instead of a monitor. That means the device’s screen will project the script through the beam-splitter glass and onto the camera’s lens. So, you won’t need a separate monitor. 

But what you will need is:

Since the Teleprompter app for android and iOS comes with a mirror setting, it will invert the text you put in. Consequently, when it hits the mirror and is flipped, you will see it displayed in the proper way. 

Besides that, you can control the speed and size of the text via any of these devices:

  • Tablet
  • Computer
  • Phone
  • Smartwatch 

Choosing the Right Teleprompter for Your Needs

The teleprompter type you choose will depend on several factors. Below, we hash out the tech best-suited to your needs by teleprompter type and some use cases:

Teleprompter Type

Teleprompter Suitability in table presentation

Use Cases

Let’s see which teleprompter fulfills the needs in the following use cases:

  • News Rooms: Whether you run a small news channel or work for a big one, video production requires anchors, debaters, and interviewers, to speak with confidence and accuracy. So, a camera-mounted teleprompter with the most advanced features will be best here.
  • Corporate: A camera-mounted teleprompter would be great for delivering video messages, presentations, and making user manuals.
  • Tutorials and Influencer Videos: And any other situations where you’ll be addressing the camera and not an audience can be made perfect with software-based teleprompters.
  • Debates, Conferences, and Other Live Appearances: Choose the presidential type for speaking to live audiences seated on the same level as the speaker.

The real president is whoever controls the teleprompter
  • In-Person Events: When the speaker will address an audience from behind a podium, it’s best to go with a floor teleprompter.
  • E-Learning Opportunities: Use a camera-mounted or software-based teleprompter for virtual classes and presidential type for live ones.

More Tips for Best Results

You wouldn't want a teleprompter weighing you down when creating content that requires you to move around. Would you? In short, one teleprompter type isn’t necessarily swappable with another! 

So, consider these questions while out shopping for one:

How far will the presenter be from the camera?  

  • Even the best teleprompter for iPad  and other mobile devices will only work at a viewing distance between 3-12 feet.
  • Pick a larger screen size–and thus, different teleprompter type–for longer distances. For example, most speakers would be able to read a 12" screen from 15 feet far away. However, you’d need a bigger screen for longer distances, like:
  • 24" screen for 19-24 ft.
  • 32" screen for distances longer than 24 ft.
showing front and back view

When you choose the wrong teleprompter type!

Who will operate the teleprompter?

Besides knowing how does a teleprompter work, you also need to answer this when picking out one. That's because you can’t both be the speaker and the operator for models requiring two people to work! And if you have a small content creation setup, you’d have to extract the operator’s pay from your slim budget. Don’t want to do that? Then use a teleprompter app that comes with autoscroll functionality and lets you pick the best-for-you scrolling speed. 


What is the difference between Teleprompter and Autocue?

They both refer to the same tech. However, the names actually belong to first-time manufacturers of the device. The TelePrompTer Corporation patented its device in 1949 in the US. Then, in 1955, the first UK-based teleprompter manufacturer licensed their patent to a teleprompting company called Autocue. And that’s how both names were born.

What are the benefits of using a Teleprompter app?

Enjoy the following benefits when you use the Teleprompter app: 

  • You won’t have to learn entire scripts by heart and can deliver your lines or lectures with great confidence.
  • Maintaining speaker-audience eye contact allows you to engage your listeners better and for longer. You may also come off as dynamic when you say your part in precise words without referring to a notecard!
  • You can enjoy all the advantages teleprompting has to offer without spending big bucks on the bigger versions.

Which features set the Teleprompter app apart?

The main thing setting the Teleprompter app apart from other teleprompting options is that it’s optimized for individual content creators. So, you get to enjoy:

When you set the scrolling speed too high
  • The scrolling speed you’re comfortable with
  • Quick-and-easy script import and editing
  • Scripts mirrored the right way so you can use your device with teleprompter hardware
  • Multiple syncing and storage/upload options via Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud, and Word, including offline usage
  • Customized keyboard shortcuts
  • Full-screen mode and aspect ratios adjustment 

How do I avoid sounding robotic while using a teleprompter?

To sound natural, focus on practicing your script in a conversational tone. Use the teleprompter as a guide rather than a crutch. Incorporate pauses, changes in tone, and natural gestures to make your delivery more engaging and authentic.

Can teleprompters be used outdoors?

Yes, many teleprompters are suitable for outdoor use. However, consider factors like screen brightness and glare. Some models are designed with high-brightness screens to ensure visibility in sunlight. Using a hood or shade can also improve screen visibility outdoors.

Is it difficult to set up and operate a teleprompter by myself?

With advancements in teleprompter design and technology, many models are user-friendly and can be set up with minimal effort. Software-based teleprompters are particularly easy to manage on your own, especially with features like auto-scrolling and remote control options. However, for more complex setups or professional shoots, having an assistant can be beneficial.

Final Thoughts: How Does a Teleprompter Work

Using a teleprompter seems like an obvious choice, given the alternatives, such as having to memorize scripts, using cue cards, sounding robotic, and doing numerous retakes. They help you connect and engage with your audience directly and improve content quality, giving it a professional touch.

Bart Simpsons writing on blackboard
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And if you choose to use the Teleprompter app, it will transform your phone and iPad into a production studio with all the bennies of the average teleprompter and none of its hang ups. So, go on, and try it for free!

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