If you’ve ever had to address a group of people at work or in your community, you may have lacked confidence and felt unprofessional if you had to rely on index cards or a handwritten speech. A great way to add more polish to your presentations is by using a teleprompter in place of written notes. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of this useful technology.

Write or Edit Your Script

With any speech you deliver, whether you are referencing written notes or a prompter, you should always strive to make the words sound like your own. This is especially important when using a teleprompter, as it can be more challenging to speak naturally when you are focusing on a screen. If you are able to write your presentation yourself, it will more likely reflect your normal way of talking. If someone else has drafted a speech for you, take time to edit the language so it is more like your own. Use words and phrases that are native to you and that will easily roll off your tongue.

Translate for Clarity

Before loading your presentation into the teleprompter feed, take a moment to convert your written words into ones that are more easily spoken. For example, you may have written “$1,500,000,000” in your speech, but when you’re on your feet delivering that figure it can be easy to get lost in the string of numbers. You might end up saying “million” when you meant “billion,” so try writing out how you would say the figure. In this case it may feel natural to you to say “1 point 5 billion dollars,” so write it that way.

It can also be helpful to transcribe difficult words or names phonetically so you don’t stumble over their pronunciation. The mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg, would probably prefer you write “BOOT-edge-edge” on your notes rather than struggle with his last name in the middle of your speech.

Plan Your Pace and Inflection

One unfortunate problem that can arise from using a teleprompter is the tendency to deliver your presentation like a robot. To combat that, right in your composition it’s a good idea to include notes to help with your delivery. You can use ellipses to indicate where you want to pause, and capital letters or underlines to remind you about words or phrases you wish to emphasize. You might also include directions to yourself to gesture or laugh at certain points, but be sure to practice doing these things smoothly so they don’t feel forced.

Use Your Own Prompter

Although facilities that frequently host speakers may have built-in prompter systems, using your own teleprompter can give you a leg up when it comes to having a confident and natural delivery. Not only can you avoid the learning curve that comes with figuring out any new device, but you can also practice privately with your own prompter to maximize your comfort level. Obtaining a portable teleprompter can be an easy and affordable way to make every presentation you deliver more professional. Personal prompters are often controlled by the user through an app, making it easy to adjust how quickly your scroll is moving and to pause for audience reaction.

Remember that although using a teleprompter can add a great deal of polish and professionalism to your presentations, it takes some effort to proficiently utilize this helpful technology. No one magically transforms into a masterful orator simply by tossing out his or her notecards. A bit of extra preparation and practice can ensure you deliver your teleprompter speech comfortably and with confidence.