Even if you weren't watching when it aired live, you've undoubtedly seen the video of Steve Harvey announcing the wrong winner at the 2015 Miss Universe Pageant. Can you imagine the embarrassment he felt?! Unfortunately, some people felt a lot more than embarrassed, as evidenced by the death threats he and his family got afterwards!
Right after the major meltdown, people began blaming one thing for the entire mess -- Steve's teleprompter. So, how can you make sure that your teleprompter doesn't cause you to make a cringe-worthy snafu?
Proofread, proofread, proofread
We wrote it three times because it's THAT important. No matter how busy you are, always proofread your script beforehand! That way, you'll catch any errors before you're reading them live off the teleprompter. Your teleprompter can only spit out the words that you load into it. If they are wrong, you are going to be the one with egg on your face -- not the teleprompter!
Show some personality
If you simply stand there and read off your teleprompter like a robot, no one's going to take you seriously. Instead, they're going to think that you're just spitting out some pre-planned script, without injecting any of your own ideas or expertise into the mix. (Think people won't be that harsh? Think again! Back in 2010, former U.S. Vice President Walter Mondale told President Barack Obama to stop relying on 'idiot boards' during his speeches!)
So how do you inject some personality?
Start by writing your script so that it sounds more conversational than formal. Then, if your audience is in the room with you -- like during a speech -- be sure to look around the room while you're speaking. Or, if you're talking into a camera, glance down at times. Also, don't be afraid to pause to catch your breath every once in awhile. And, of course, smile whenever it's appropriate! That way, you'll look much more human and much less robotic.
It's normal to be nervous before you go on camera or deliver a speech to a packed room, but if you're wound too tightly, your odds of having a major meltdown go way up! Give your neck muscles a stretch before you begin, and make sure your shoulders are loose. Also, don't be afraid to move your head naturally while you talk. The last thing you want is a stiff, stressed out appearance that makes everyone listening to you uncomfortable!