Tap the Power of Video: 8 Tips for Creating a Killer Talking Head
Moving images have been breathing life into storytelling for more than a century. With more than two billion YouTube views each day, online video can be one of the best ways to get people’s attention.
Video is at least as effective for business-to-business marketing as it is for consumer. In fact, in a recent Forbes study of senior execs, 75% said they watch work-related videos on business websites every week. And 65% visited a vendor’s website after watching a video.
Video production costs can be all over the map. Talking heads are a simple and affordable way to get your video out there, when done correctly. Talking heads can also be an effective way to share stories and actionable information.
Granted, we’ve all seen examples of terrible talking heads. Here are some tips to make sure yours worth sharing.
1. Plan ahead. You’re not shooting a feature film, and you don’t need to create an elaborate story board or script. But you should at least think through what you’re going to shoot.
- What’s your overall objective?
- What questions do you want to address?
- What image do you want to project?
2. Remember that less is more. One of the most common mistakes in any kind of storytelling is to ramble on.
- Keep your clip short.
- For online video, 45 seconds to 2 minutes is a good length.
- Topics that really need more than 3 minutes to cover can be broken into sequential segments.
3. Picture perfect. Visual context comes into play at both a conscious and subconscious level. Take care in how you frame your shot.
- Unless you are using the camera built into your computer, set up your camcorder or your phone on a tripod.
- Look at the shot and think about what’s in the foreground, and what’s in the background. Tidy up your desk. Place colorful items to draw attention around the frame. Make sure what is on the wall behind you isn’t distracting.
- Be sure you are the right distance from the camera. You don’t want to appear too large or too small. Use a stand-in if you can.
- Make sure you are in focus.
- Look directly into the lens so people feel engaged.
- If you have someone shooting for you, be sure they don’t zoom or pan. For talking heads, static frames are best.
4. Light bright. Lighting can make all the difference. And poorly lit videos detract from even the best content.
- Find a friend to “bounce” sunlight off a white poster board. Play with the angle to get it just right.
- Avoid “upstaging” or shadows over your face (or company’s signage which you may have placed in the shot)
- See if you can turn off fluorescents and use daylight coming in from windows.
5. Sound check. What’s more annoying than poor lighting? Grating audio!
- If you can, use a lavaliere microphone that plugs directly into your camcorder. (Some phones may have audio inputs).
- If you’re using your phone or built-in laptop camera, make sure you test the quality of the microphone.
- Speak clearly and project your words
- Be conscious of other background noise: planes flying overhead, garbage trucks, or conversations.
- If you have time, record about fifteen seconds or so and play it back – if the room sounds very echo-y or noisy, see if you can find another location.
6. Animate yourself! A flat, monotone presentation takes away from interesting, valuable content.
- Practice in front of a mirror.
- Play with voice inflection and gestures.
- Use facial expressions.
- Pretend you are telling an interesting story to a friend.
7. Use industry-standard platforms. Make sure your content is on a platform that projects the best quality and makes your videos shareable.
8. Always include sharing buttons. After taking pains to create compelling content, you’ll want to be sure people know how to share it—both online and offline.
Test it out! If done well and used for the right purposes, talking head video can be a compelling, low-risk, shareable communication tool.
Debra Bouchegnies is Video Producer and Social Media Strategist at Kitterman Marketing Group, a B2B marketing company that helps clients generate leads through the strategic mix of social, traditional and digital marketing. Follow Debra on Twitter at @dbcsg
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