Why Talking Head Videos Are Boring
Let’s dive headfirst into a topic that’s as exciting as a PowerPoint presentation on the history of shoe laces: talking head videos!
Talking head videos might as well be the poster child for the word ‘boring.’ Sure, a few seconds of a talking head is pretty much standard practice in conservation films and nature documentaries. Doing so early in the narrative let’s the viewer identify a face with a voice. But after that quick five seconds or so glimpse it’s generally the aim of most filmmakers to use complementary footage to add context to the words in the voice. Broll, as it’s called, is crucial to showing a story. That’s not to say that having a talking head clip(s) re-emerge for brief glimpses later in a video is bad. It’s not. In fact it’s a technique that helps remind viewers whose voice is talking. When you have multiple biologists, ecologists, researchers, etc., in your film, this becomes especially necessary.
Just to be clear, I’ve filmed a conservation video series that was deliberately intended to be talking heads. The purpose was short 30 second unscripted from-the-heart stories of biologists telling what inspired them to enter their chosen field. The format worked because the stories were authentic. And being able to see the emotion on the faces of the storytellers made it even more impactful. The format would not have worked if that emotion on the biologists’ faces was hidden by broll footage.
One thing I’ve learned over 10+ years as a conservation videographer is that you can never have enough broll footage. That helps me to allow voices — not talking heads — to work their storytelling magic, explaining conservation as powerful visuals work their magic my grabbing viewers and transporting them into the natural world as a story is being told.
Three Ways Talking Head Videos Are Excruciatingly Boring
Let’s take a quick look at why talking head videos cause audiences to move on, scrolling aimlessly for those cute animal videos instead.
The Monotonous Monologues
Picture this: a dimly lit room, a monotone voice droning on, and absolutely no visual engagement. It’s like being trapped in a never-ending snoozefest hosted by Captain Monotony! We need a little pizzazz, folks! A sprinkle of excitement! Who needs a nap when we’ve got YouTube at our fingertips? (P.S. Be sure to check your YouTube analytics. It tells you when viewers, on average, abandon watching your video.)
The Attention-Span Assassins
Humans are curious creatures, itching for captivating visuals and engaging storytelling. A talking head video waving its monotony wand around simply won’t cut it. We crave an experience that’ll grab us by the brain cells and drag us into the natural world.
The Dull Dictation
Shhh! Can you hear it? That’s the sound of creativity being crushed beneath the weight of scripted speeches. Talking head videos often succumb to the temptation of dictation, leaving no room for personality, spontaneity, or even the smallest hint of authenticity. It’s like a bland bowl of alphabet soup.
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