How Does A Teleprompter Work? with Pros and Cons

We all love tuning into the late night shows or award ceremonies where the host casts a charming spell on us with their witty monologues. However, have you noticed how they never break eye contact with you while looking at the camera?

This is the magic of teleprompter!

Anyone can deliver hilarious jokes or convey critical information in times of need using this one device.

But how does a teleprompter work? Allow us tell you all the details of its mechanism and more in the following sections!

How Do Teleprompters Work?

Before we dive into the technical details, let us briefly tell you about what parts a modern teleprompter actually consists of.

The major pieces of this device include camera, monitor and a mirror or reflective surface. Many teleprompters also use software for smooth transfer of text on the monitor.

1. Position of Camera

You may have seen older models where the prepared script used to be displayed below the camera. The teleprompters of this generation actually take the illusion a little further by placing the display above the video camera lens. So the reader doesn’t have to look down or sidewise to read the words.

2. Mirror Reflection

They follow quite a simple working principle. While the horizontally placed monitor keeps rolling the carefully crafted script, the mirror or screen situated above it reflects those words. This screen functions as an optical beam splitter. Since it is transparent on one side, the camera can shoot without any obstruction.

3. Text Orientation

Now you may wonder how the text shows up properly since mirrors tend to flip the letters we show them. This is where the software comes in. You will need a teleprompting software to reverse the letters on script to show up with the correct orientation for the presenter.

These scripts are written digitally with the help of other software like Microsoft Word. The software imports this Word file and then sends it to the monitor through a VGA cable or similar connection. Most standard monitors allow at least two inputs for this purpose.

4. Protective Cover

You will often observe a black cover surrounding the reflective screen to protect it from the interruption of other sources of light. This ensures a flawless execution of rolling the script without breaking the rhythm or putting the whole live transmission in jeopardy.

How Does A Presidential Teleprompter Work?

Government leaders of all countries use a teleprompter to deliver insightful speeches at crucial times. Their kind words and details about taken measures can effectively calm down an entire nation. But that can only happen when he or she can deliver the speech smoothly.

In order to ensure a successful deliverance, administrative staff like the ones in White House take the help of a presidential teleprompter. These models differ significantly from the typical teleprompters other presenters use.

For starters, their design is much more minimal and lightweight than the usual devices. Instead of relying on a teleprompting software, the president can only rely on a laptop to display the prepared material. Its digital file can be launched on a laptop whose text will then be reflected and displayed on the screen.

Similar to other teleprompters, this screen is actually a beam-splitter mirror and it is transparent for unobstructed recording.

The video camera can be handheld for professional manipulation or put on a tripod in case of emergency. It needs to be partially cloaked by a black cloth to prevent reflection from other light sources.

In the unique events where there is more than one speaker for a presidential address, there are multiple mirrors involved to accommodate for each speaker. Then they are aligned precisely to avoid overlapping each other in the camera.

The height difference among the speakers also plays a role here. It should not be more than three inches since the mirror alignment cannot be adjusted beyond this height difference.

In such cases, the speaker himself or herself will need to change their standing platform to minimize the gap.

Pros And Cons Of Using A Teleprompter

Even though teleprompters surely make the lives of media people much easier, there are a few possible downfalls to this technology as well. Let’s see what it offers and what it lacks.


No Improvisation Required

Using a teleprompter ensures security for the flawless delivery of vital information during a news telecast or presidential address.

Since this text is already written by experts of relevant fields and approved by authorities, the speaker doesn’t need to take the stress of memorization or improvisation. This guarantees a much better quality of speech delivery.

Higher Writing Standards

If each news presenter or anchor had to come up with the monologue themselves, it could lead to poor choice of words at best and blunders at worst. By using a teleprompter, the show can avoid both of these possibilities since their words have been chosen by professional writers and revised by proficient editors.

Strong Connection With Audience 

As the speakers don’t have to worry about the speech or improvisations, they can focus on establishing their connection with the audience.

The clever placement of a teleprompter’s camera makes sure that the speaker never breaks eye contact with the audience. As a result, the viewers feel more acknowledged in the show.

Optimum Speaking Speed

It is a common human error to miss the mark on speaking speed. If you speak too fast, your audience may not understand the sentences. On the other hand, speaking too slow can cause them to lose interest in your material.

Teleprompters can get rid of this issue by displaying the text in the most optimum speed. As a result, you can utter each part of the sentence clearly and effectively. This is a major help for news presenters, TV show anchors and of course, presidents.

No Forgotten Point

If you leave it all to the speakers, they can easily skip an important point while talking in front of the camera. Since the speeches prepared for them and displayed on the teleprompter are carefully scrutinized by experts, missing out on these points becomes almost impossible.

This guarantees to hold up the trust that a news program has achieved over the years. Its anchors can cover all the significant points in question and inform the audience about each one without losing focus.


Technical Difficulties

As with all electronic pieces of equipment, a teleprompter can also suffer from technical difficulties sometimes. So if the device fails to display text clearly or turns off entirely, the presenter will have to either read the written text files from a laptop on air or memorize the pieces. The latter can be much more of a struggle.

Initial Awkwardness

If the presenter is new to the job, it may take a while to get comfortable with the teleprompter routine. Initially he or she may struggle to keep the attention of the audience and read out from the teleprompter simultaneously. However, with regular practice, this awkwardness will fade away in no time.

Disengaged Audience For Older Models

The older models of teleprompters and some of the new ones place video cameras over or beside the monitor.

As a result, hosts may have to constantly look up from the camera or to its side. This will instantly break their engagement with the audience and thus the show can lose its appeal.


As you know all about how teleprompter works now, you can demystify the whole process to your friends and family members. It’s always great to learn something new and share the knowledge.

Remember all these points the next time you catch an anchored show on air. If you look in closely, you may be able to pinpoint the moments when the speaker is reading the teleprompter. That adds an extra fun in watching these shows.

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