How smart teleprompters can improve your business presentations

Automated speech recognition can help professional presenters and language learners read more smoothly.

How smart teleprompters can improve your business presentations

A voice-controlled teleprompter that scrolls as you speak seems like it should be a feature of almost every modern writing app. Most systems already include speech-to-text and text-to-speech options. In 2018, Apple added Presenter Mode to Pages, which scrolls text at a steady speed, but doesn't adapt to the presenter's pace.

A teleprompter with text that scrolls as you speak can be useful for both language learners and professional speakers. Auto-scrolling may help a student reader associate sounds with written words. The feature gives a writer an additional way to identify sentences that simply don't work well when read. Voice-triggered scrolling also makes it easier for anyone to practice working with a teleprompter.

The following apps deliver the ability to auto-scroll text at the speed you speak. (browser based) provides a browser-based teleprompter with speech detection. As of February 2019, the app is free, with a suggested $19 per year payment option available to help cover costs, and works only in desktop Chrome browsers.

To use it, give permission to access your device's microphone, then paste words into the text field. The words will appear in a large font on your display. Read the words out loud, and the system will auto-scroll the text as you speak--no need to press the cursor-down key.

SEE: Overcome the challenges of public speaking: Tips for tech professionals (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

You can also modify the color, size, and display of the text. You can choose four different colors: Blue, green, yellow, or white (the default color). There are also four different font sizes: 50, 75, 90 (the default), or 120. The Flip Text button in the upper left corner allows text to be viewed in a mirror, should you have a teleprompter setup that supports it. Flip Text is also handy if you want to improve your skill at reading the mirror-writing of Leonardo da Vinci, but to practice this properly, you'll also need to enter text in Italian.

You can still manually scroll through your document: Move the cursor anywhere in your document, then speak the words on the screen. Since the system is always listening, it will resume scrolling as it recognizes spoken words.

PromptSmart Pro (mobile apps)

PromptSmart Pro offers both Android and iOS apps that detect speech and auto-scroll in a feature the company calls VoiceTrack. PromptSmart Lite provides a basic version of the app with the VoiceTrack feature for iOS devices. The full app is available for Android or iOS devices for $19.99.

PromptSmart Pro allows you to adjust many display options: You can select from several different fonts and sizes, and change the text and background colors. As of mid-February 2019, you can choose to mirror horizontally in both the Android and iOS apps, and also mirror vertically in the iOS app.

The app also serves as a full-featured video recording system--enable video recording to capture video as you read your text. By default, the system records with your device's front-facing camera. On Android, the video displays behind your text. On iOS, your text shows at the top, with your captured video below. I preferred the video captured on iOS better since the text displayed toward the top of the screen, which meant my eyes were naturally looking closer to the camera.

Your experience?

What has your experience been with either of these applications that auto-scroll text as you speak? Let me know either in the comments below or on Twitter (@awolber).

Also see

Photo of Chromebook display of words that mention and PromptSmart Pro.
Photo: TechRepublic/Andy Wolber