7 Tips for Shooting a Talking Head Video

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As you’ve probably noticed, talking head videos are pretty popular. That’s because they’re a great option for simple, cost-effective media content. Video is fast becoming the best way to communicate and boost engagement, including being used externally for sales and marketing or internally for training and education.

Not every talking head video is an instant success, it takes more than sitting in front of a camera to get it right. Even if you have the budget for something more complicated, you’re probably limited on time. Shooting video of just the neck and shoulders up can be great for quick corporate messages, interviews, product introductions, and anything that requires a personal voice.

Here’s a question: Have you ever seen a bad talking head video? A few probably came to mind. That’s because while talking head videos are quick and budget-friendly, they’re also really easy to do wrong.

We put together a cheat sheet so you don’t make the same mistakes.

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1. Shoot with the end in mind

With every video project, you have to think about the final delivery and the audience for the video—what are your goals and how will you achieve them? Make decisions accordingly. This includes pre-planning for the script and making sure your subject is clear, concise, and engaging.

2. Don’t use green screens

When it comes to a talking head video setup, it’s best to make your video as authentic as possible. If you want a clean white background, use a seamless backdrop and light it independently of your subject. Better yet, find somewhere quiet (see #4) that aligns with the subject and goals of your video. By using a real environment, you can add that polished corporate look.

3. Lighting is critical

Avoid shadows, over exposure, and just plain bad lighting. Learn how to use 3-point lighting. If that’s not available, find a nice soft natural light source like a window. A good guideline: the spot with the most convenient lighting is often the best choice.

Here’s another tip to maximize natural light. If the sun’s shining outside and throwing harsh shadows, try hanging a white blanket over the window to soften the light. If natural lighting just isn’t feasible, try using white lights, not yellow.

4. A little bit of set design goes a long way

The classic talking head video includes a subject and often a blank background, a combination that lends itself to visual boredom. To make for a more visually interesting set, try adding props like furniture, plants, and colorful accents that reinforce your brand and add to the story you’re trying to tell.

We did something similar for a video about Loop, our learning experience platform.

5. Audio is 50% of the video

There isn’t a whole lot going on in your video. It’s just a talking head. So, make sure your audio is on point. For high quality audio, this starts by using a boom mic or a lapel mic instead of your camera’s built-in mic—that’s only for reference audio.

6. Two cameras > one camera

Always. Having more than one angle will help your video be more dynamic and increase your engagement. Remember to keep your cameras on the same side of your subject. A wide, and a close-up shot is a popular combination for a talking head video edit.

7. Know your limits

Sometimes it’s good to know when to hire a professional to guarantee a creative talking head video. If your video will have a wide distribution, consider hiring someone that will partner with you to create a final product that looks great and makes an impact.

There you have it! Use these seven practical tips as a guide next time you’re creating a talking head video, and we guarantee your talking head video will turn out better compared to if you didn’t read this post.

See how we put these into practice in one of our own talking head videos

Check it out on our Vimeo!

Watch here