4 min read

The Do’s and Don’ts of Talking Head Videos

January 24, 2017

Corporate Educational

A creative talking head video can do a lot for your business, whether you’re using it to publicize your brand, instruct employees, or sell a product or service. The problem with talking head video production is that talking heads, by their nature, are boring. Your audience is looking at one person talking to them over a white background… not the most engaging visual.

When thinking about how to make a talking head video, you want to think about audience engagement. You need to carefully consider how to make a good talking head video using the tools available to you. Here are some dos and don’ts for how to make a good video, interview style.

DO:

Use Props

One of the tried-and-true rules of any video production, from a short instructional video to a full-length movie, is that you should give your actors something to do. Colorful and interesting props not only draw the viewer’s attention, but the way your talking head interacts with and uses them also encourages greater audience engagement.

Be an Actor

We know people starring in talking head corporate videos aren’t coming directly from Broadway. You don’t need to turn in an Oscar-winning performance to produce a creative talking head video, but you should follow the rules actors follow. Project your voice. Vary your cadence. Use expressive gestures. Pay attention to body language. Imagine you’re having a conversation, not just reciting a script to a camera.

Use Talking Head Video Animation When Possible

Studies show that people tend to engage more with visual representations of ideas than they do with simple talking heads. While it’s not always feasible to do a complete animated video, slipping in a little animation wherever you can may do a lot for getting your audience to stick with you. They’ll notice.

Use a Whiteboard or a Lightboard

You use a whiteboard in your live presentations, and they can be highly effective in talking head videos as well. Remember that people retain more if they can both see and hear it. Combining whiteboard drawings with animation is a great way to get your message across.
Lightboards, on the other hand, allow a slightly more engaging approach, since the speaker can both narrate and animate a scene simultaneously. We frequently use lightboards in our videos here at NextThought Studios - check out an example
here

Take Advantage of Editing

One of the biggest talking head video mistakes people make is not taking advantage of video editing software. Video editing is easier to do than ever, and if you’re not comfortable editing your own work, you can bring in trained professionals who will complete post production work on your video project and make your video look great for a reasonable cost.

You don’t want your video to look overproduced, of course, but splicing in different camera angles, images, text and sound can create a cinematic experience in your talking head video. That will make viewers much more likely to watch to the end and remember what they have seen.

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DON’T:

Wing it

Even if you’re a great public speaker, effective videos (even short ones!) require careful planning. Be sure that you take the time to think about the concept, the message you want to convey, and how to make it interesting.

Forget to Use Subtitles and Transcripts

This is an easy one to overlook, and you don’t necessarily need subtitles in every video you create, but it can be a very important factor in audience engagement. If your talking head is a non-native English speaker, their accent may make it difficult to understand the words, and viewers may give up. Even native English speakers who fail to enunciate well may have this problem.

Furthermore, your viewers may have hearing difficulties, or may be in a location where they can watch the video but are not able to listen to audio. Subtitles are an easy add that can get you more viewers, better engagement and more comprehension. You likely already have most of the words already written in your video script.

It is for these reasons that we highly recommend accompanying any video with a transcript - both to make the video easier for watchers to understand, and to allow them to easily go back and read the contents of the video at a later date.

Lose Sight of the Purpose of Your Video

Congratulations, you put together a great-looking video that everyone’s watching and sharing on social media. Only problem is, no one knows what it’s for. Don’t let style overshadow substance. If this is a marketing video, treat it like any other marketing content, addressing your audience’s pain points, presenting clear solutions and including a strong call to action. A reasonable degree of work should go into your pre-production and writing an appropriate script on the subject matter of the video.

Be Boring

This is the cardinal rule. Remember that no one has to watch your video – or if they do, they don’t have to pay attention. There are so many videos available today, so if yours isn’t engaging, you risk losing your audience to a more engaging one.

Your goal is to make a video that people want to watch, and just happens to serve your goal of letting potential customers know what you need them to do. At every stage of production, ask yourself if this is a video you would want to watch. That can help guide you down the right path. If it’s not something you would be personally interested in, it’s time to go back to the drawing board and start again.

If these dos and don’ts are making you think twice about doing it yourself, don’t worry - we’re here to help.

Contact a Professional Video Production Company

These tips should start you on your way to making a great talking head video, but the best thing you can do is have a great team working by your side. In Oklahoma, NextThought Studios is ready to help you make amazing videos that will help you meet all your business goals. Our trained, friendly professionals can lead you through every step of the process, from storyboards to post production.

To find out more or for a free quote on NextThought video production services, contact us now.

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Janelle Bevan, M.A.

Written by Janelle Bevan, M.A.

Janelle has produced and project-managed a wide array of videos ranging from corporate commercials to long-form documentaries. While completing her Master’s degree at the University of Oklahoma, she served as the graduate assistant to the department chair for the Creative Media. Janelle has worked with many nationally recognized organizations, creating documentaries for the National Association of Broadcasters, designing and editing instructional videos for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, as well as producing the 2015 Broadcast Education Association awards show in Las Vegas. Janelle is a six-time Telly Award winner and won a 2016 Emmy for her documentary featuring a collaboration from three executive producers of AMC’s The Walking Dead. Janelle has since served as NextThought’s Director of Post-Production and Media Management and helped facilitate over 1,000 videos in the last year.