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How Obama looks so relaxed when speaking – and what you can “borrow” from his technique pt 2 – Scan and Deliver

In part 1 I shared how Obama uses his double teleprompter system to look as if he is talking “to” the audience and not looking down at his notes.

O UQ speech

O teleprompter

Here’s a better photo of his teleprompter system.

Barack Obama, Arne Duncan

Obama is often criticised for his over-reliance on a teleprompter system. In the US, they refer to the POTUS (President of the United States) and the TOTUS (Teleprompter of the United States).

I don’t mind a teleprompter. Possibly because of my TV background.

Using a teleprompter is a real art and I personally think Obama uses his teleprompter system very well. I wish I was a smooth as he is in using a teleprompter!

Now most of us don’t have access to such a teleprompter system when we speak or present – but here’s how we can all use a similar technique with a humble laptop.

I recently used this technique – and it worked really well.

I was presenting to an organisation and their projector wasn’t working.

I had my MacBookPro hooked up to the projector so my Macbook was out in front of me. Because the projector was not working there was no presentation behind me.

The audience had limited time so I just spoke to them – clicking through my presentation that I could see on the MacBook in front of me – even though there was no presentation projected behind me.

As it turned out the Macbook was at around the same height as the seated audience.

I just casually spoke with the audience – occasionally glancing at my presentation slides on the MacBook in front of me.

I didn’t read from it unless I was reading an actual quotation.

I just used the screen in front of me as an occasional prompt.

Plus, I used an Obama “sneaky peek” technique.

Barack Obama

Now, when Obama presents he is usually standing. His two teleprompter screens – one to his left and one to his right – are at a height so it looks as if he is scanning across the people in his audience – shifting his gaze from one side of the room to the other.

I carefully study videos of Obama’s many speeches, and he looks as if he gets in a “sneaky peek”. He glances at one of the screens to see his next line. Then he delivers that line to the audience.

It’s as if he scans a line as his head moves to look at a different side of the room – he “takes in” a line – and then delivers it to his audience.

An easy way for you to remember is:

Instead of the old STAND and DELIVER

remember to SCAN and DELIVER.

As I mentioned, while it would be great to have a twin teleprompter system like Obama – you can still do the SCAN and DELIVER technique with a humble laptop screen placed in front of you.

Don’t spend all your time looking DOWN reading from the screen. Use the screen as a prompt of where you are going next.

Of course, it helps if you are familiar with your material and if you’ve practised it before.

The screen is a prompt. Most of your attention should be “talking to” your audience.

Now a speech is different from a business presentation. Often in business presentations you need to refer to content in slides.

I recommend that you also improve you skills in just talking to or with your audience.

And when you do – remember you CAN use a laptop as a prompt and you can SCAN and DELIVER!

Here’s a link to:
Part 1 – How Obama looks so relaxed when speaking


TB Media mosaic

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These days, lots of people and organisations need help with how to COPE with too much work, too much information, too many meetings, delivering difficult news, business writing, effective e-mail, e-mail overload, cross-cultural communication, better social media engagement etc. I like to help people COPE.



One comment on “How Obama looks so relaxed when speaking – and what you can “borrow” from his technique pt 2 – Scan and Deliver

  1. Jon
    February 12, 2015

    Obama does not care has his own agenda put him in front of some good journo’s (Aussies) and watch. It will be a very different man

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This entry was posted on November 18, 2014 by in Uncategorized.
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