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Preaching From a Teleprompter
By E. Lonnie Melashenko
Description: Chauvin, actress, Hollywood producer and legendary speech “coach” for Walt Disney’s “Mouseketeers” hammered some sense into this young pastor’s cranium when I began doing “commercials” and book offers for George Vandeman on It Is Written.  After preaching several highly successful evangelistic campaigns as a young church pastor, Ms. Chauvin embarrassed me. She humbled me. I felt frustrated. Quite frankly, I felt insulted. She told me that my public “preaching style” is not TALKING to people. At least, not effectively. Not for television and video. “Lonnie, you are talking AT me. Not TO me.”
When TV host George Vandeman invited me to become his Associate Director-Speaker in 1977, leadership immediately thrust me in front of television cameras to start a new feature called Prayer Alert on our weekly telecasts. And I began giving book offers and brief commercials. But alas! David Jones, our IIW Producer, lamented, “Lonnie needs a speech coach for television. He’s not getting through to our viewers.” It Is Written promptly paid for me to book a dozen intense coaching sessions with one of the industry’s finest speech coaches, Lilyan Chauvin. Believe me, it’s hard work! In summary, here are 10 Commandments of what I learned about oral interpretation for TV:
  1. Never just READ your lines from the Teleprompter. (Your audience can’t know you are reading)
  2. Memorize the basic sentences first. Only use the Teleprompter as a crutch.
  3. Smile. (No frowns – they alienate).
  4. Glance down occasionally or glance aside. (That helps you look more “natural.”)
  5. Take a beat (this was the most important clue I learned). STOP. Halt. Breathe. Don’t just charge ahead rapid-fire.
  6. Talk quietly and sincerely. DO NOT use “preachy” style inflection.
  7. Speak like you are talking to a person.
  8. Look natural. Relax. You can’t appear nervous.
  9. Visualize an entire LINE of script (try to keep your eyes focused directly at the center of each line, without eye movements from left to right).
  10.  Take a breath and practice smiling several times BEFORE actual taping of lines.
E. Lonnie Melashenko is a revivalist for the Columbia Union Conference