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The Cheat Sheet for a Successful Talking Head Video

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. So, with competition rising, it's becoming more and more important to get it right. Even if you have the budget for something more complicated, often there's just no 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.

But here's a question. Have you ever seen a just plain 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.

Here’s a cheat sheet so you don’t make the same mistakes other have.

1. Don’t use green screen.

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.

2. 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.

3. Lighting is seriously critical.

Just in case you missed #2. Lighting is the key to success with videos. Can’t stress this enough. 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. Audio is 50% of the video.

There isn’t a whole lot going on in your video. It’s a talking head, remember? So, make sure your audio is on point. This starts by using a boom mic or a lapel mic recorded to an external source. Do not use the mic on your camera—it's only there for reference audio.

5. Two cameras > one camera.

Always. Having more than one angle will help your video be more dynamic and increase your engagement. Just remember to keep your cameras on the same side of your subject. A wide, and a punch in shot is a popular combination.

6. Shoot with the end in mind.

Think about your final delivery and the audience for the video—what are your goals and are you achieving them? Make decisions accordingly. This includes pre-planning the script and making sure your subject is clear, concise, and engaging.

7. Know your limits.

Sometimes it’s good to know when to hire a professional. If your video will have a wide distribution, or will be public-facing, consider hiring someone that can make you look great.

So there you have it. Use these six practical keys as a guide next time you're creating (or thinking about creating) a talking head video, and set yourself up for success.

Want to see a talking head video we created?

Here you go!

Watch now!
Thomas Wrench

With a name like Wrench, he has to expect the jokes, right? But you'll think it's time to put jokes aside when you meet …

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