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Operative words are a vital tool for actors.  Basically, they are the most important words in the script and help get the meaning across to audience members.  Here’s an example for a script from the CEO of Delta Airlines.

“Here at Delta, our primary concern is your safety.  Our team is best in the business.”

The CEO is likely not trained in public speaking and he may not have even seen the script until a minute or two before taping begins.  A simple, easy tip is to offer him operative words to emphasize — those will dictate the meaning and really make the text clear.

So, what words would really make that little snippet of text sing?  It’s really your choice (and you’ll get better at finding operative words with experience) but a good starting place would be the words ‘safety’ and ‘best’.

It’s amazing the words people will emphasize when they are unaware of this technique.  They might hit ‘Here’ and ‘In’ which makes the whole thing confusing and weird.

I often underline words in the prompter to help the presenter/actor hit the right words.  So the prompter might look like this:

Operative words underlined



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