Talking head videos

Talking Head Videos? 10 ways to make your lectures more interesting

Posted in Blog on 23 September 2015

A ‘talking head’ is usually a short video clip of a subject-matter expert delivering a lecture in his or her area of expertise.  These are the most popular format of online lecture deliver, as they are low cost and easy to create.

However when it comes to engagement and (hello!) learning, the talking head video is one step back from being in an actual class.

Learning is an active process which requires the learner to be able to hear, understand and assimilate and retail new information. In classroom lectures, the expert would use questions as a method to gauge understanding and reception. In a unidirectional communication media such as videos, a lecturer can do no such thing.

Here are 10 easy ways you can add variety to your talking head video to make it more interactive and engaging.

1. Add text overlays to video to highlight important points.

On screen text can be easily adding using free tools, to make your video look more professional and add “learning recaps” to your lecture.

2. Add microcontrols on the video.

Can viewers speed up, or jump to certain sections of your video? Be sure to incorporate these aspects like a table of contents so that a user can easily go back and forth in your lecture.

3. Add transcripts to the video.

Does your video come with transcripts? Sometimes this would help a student review areas of your video they have trouble with while using your transcript as personal notes. Adding a transcript will also help you create more content out of your video lectures.

4. Allow users to comment, or rate videos.

Depending on where they access your videos, viewers might have valuable feedback or end up asking the same question letting you know there’s something missing in your lecture. So be sure to enable feedback and reviews whenever possible.

5. Use two cameras.

Professional videographers cut between a long shot (which shows your full image) and a close shot (which is usually in profile). You can set-up two cameras to give the feel of a live recording in front of audience or just to add an element of interest to your video.

6. Cut to slides, video clips or images to demonstrate important points.

Key points can be emphasized by cutting to clips images or slides while your audio lecture continues. This helps break up the lecture while visually recapping what you are talking about. 

7. Use props where ever possible.

If you have simple props that can help you demonstrate a point, then try to incorporate it rather than using a chalkboard or a presentation image. A prop brings your concept to life and take the focus of visual learning on to the prop, while learners are still tuned-in to your lecture.

8. Move to another location for a new chapter or revision.

It may be easy to capture your videos in your home office or empty classroom, but sometimes a change of location can add value to your subject. It also cues to the listener to a new chapter and can be used effectively to break up your talking head video.

9. Use stage like examples with volunteers.

Another way of using props but with other people. The addition of more human elements to your video can add interest especially if there is a dynamic. That’s why many DIY videos often showcase the speaker’s kids using the product or watching a science experiment.

10. Try a little video magic.

There’s not much needed except a little imagination and effort, but this could bring a bit of interest to your lecture and get more students interested and engaged.

When used effectively a “talking head” video can provide great value to your online course. But if you are looking to create a digital course or curriculum, use the talking video sparingly and only to support your learning content.

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