Talking head video is the lowest form of video. It should be minimized as much as possible. It is certainly boring, and generally not very effective. It’s also a poor use of the video medium. Let’s look at why.
Talking head is completely dependent on the attractiveness and delivery expertise of the talking head. Television news professionals, arguably some of the best on camera talent that exists, long ago learned the importance of “b-roll” because of the difficulty of on camera delivery. They know talking head loses attention somewhere between 15 and 30 seconds.
Most business people barely communicate effectively in live conversations. On camera, amateurs really struggle to combine an effective on camera presence, a non-irritating narrative delivery, and interesting content.
We have learned talking head video adds very little substantive, or even credibility value. The interest in, and credential of the speaker can be accomplished in simple ways with voice over images of the speaker. But after the initial connection is established, talking heads doesn’t support the learning of an audio delivered message. It wastes the opportunity to reinforce the audio with effective visuals.
It’s the content of our content that is important. As I was working on this I received the video below. Nancy’s Smart Selling Tools website is an excellent resource for sales people. She’s using talking head video more to establish and reinforce herself as her company brand. She’s done enough of these she’s become a professional and does it well.
But this also is a good example of how the video does nothing to help me understand, let alone visualize, the key points that are delivered in the narrative. The narrative has interesting points, especially to a sales person, but it also sounds like a lot of buzz words and concepts. My listening doesn’t effectively translate what I hear, into the image my brain needs to “see” what they mean. This is the role of good visual content, especially the medium of motion video.
The point is, a little talking head — or even a still picture — makes the connection with the narrator. Video is expensive in terms of time, effort, and for customer acquisition, acquisition costs and imposition. With amateurs, too often the quality result doesn’t justify this investment.
We have learned it’s also not necessary. Audio tracks overlaid over images provide a better, more valuable experience than extended talking head video.
Talking Head Video On Your Website
Look what happens when you produce mostly talking head video posted to your website. How interested could anyone be in listening to all these videos, even if they were tagged with topic, purpose, recommended role, and other labels that help me understand which video addresses my business questions and issues. The source site offers 6 videos across on 14 rows, 84 videos like these — notice virtually all men! (Unintended message.)
From my initial screen capture to this version they did update labeling with a topic rather than the previous company and person name. But how do they expect us to decide which of 84 videos are appropriate for each of our various interests?
Talking head video, when incorporated into a good story-based video, can make a contribution. But use them to augment and support the story, not as the primary visual.
Traditional video production techniques, like featuring the expert talking head, can also encumber the use of video in many circumstances because video acquisition requires so much time, resource, intrusion and cost. Capture subject experts continuously, in video if you can, but consider how you use what you’ve captured, and that the primary value is in the audio content. Use visual content for elements that support or reinforce the audio, so your messages “stick” with viewers who’s attention is often cursory.