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Which talking head speaks to you?

Because sometimes it’s really not just about content

July 6, 2022

Talking heads tell stories. Commonly defined as “an interview-style video that uses subject matter experts to guide the story of a product, service, or event,” the term was originally coined to describe advertisements from the 1970s. Since then, the shooting format has found its place in numerous TV serials.

What are your options?

According to our Head of Video and esteemed film director JD Chua, there are a total of four ways you can shoot talking head videos. We’ll go through each one in this blog. 

Simple =/= Plain

There’s the solo one, with a single person facing the camera, and there’s the obvious sit-down format, reminiscent of American late night talk shows. 

This interview set-up with Singaporean actor Chew Chor Meng is minimalist and manages to be both haunting and intimate.
The infamous Oprah Winfrey interview with the Sussexes where the lovely set-up didn’t prepare us for the scalding hot tea. 

Within both of these styles, you have variations based on whether you’d like to use mood lighting and fancy backdrops for your set, or whether you’d want your profiles to face each other directly. 

Moving people…moving messaging

Compared with sit-down styled interviews, there’s also the walk-and-talk styled ones where we have a more mobile version of the previously mentioned styles. The movement in such videos allow your profiles to show more of their personalities and mannerisms on camera. 

As a result, these lend a lot of fluidity to the mood of your video and make the interview a lot more informal as a result. This example of Anthony Bourdain using casual cooking metaphors to explain a complex investment concept like collateralized debt obligation. (CDO)

Straightforward explainers

Contrasting with that is the explainer video, where a single person addresses the camera directly about a certain product or topic. Marketing might be a bit more obvious in these videos, but having said that, these videos do generally have a stronger call to action. You would do well in choosing messages which require and would benefit from this format of messaging. 

Also, the antithesis of talkies is…

Then there’s also a style JD titles the “Anti-talking heads”, which can take any form other than the ones we’ve covered above. Your profiles’ literal and figurative voices are what remain intact, and you truly have the freedom to show anything to supplement the story of what you’re trying to promote. He has singled out the video below to demonstrate how creative you can get with this particular variation of the format. 

If you think about it, the more creative aircraft safety videos these days are examples of how talking head formats are being combined, as they have elements of explainer, walk-and-talk and anti talking head styles. More importantly, they fully grasp the importance of story and charisma in delivering boring information to an audience. 

How do your heads talk? 

As seen above, you can have two videos made with the same framework, doing the exact same thing but having very different approaches. One is light-hearted, informal and funny; the other elegant and refined. So maybe it’s time to think about how you want your talking heads to say what they have to say. 

How do you want your brand to be perceived by your audience, and how do you draw in new engagement? How much are you willing to budget for delivering your message in the way you intend? Where are you going to show it? The complexity of your shoot is usually directly proportional to the cost of your video after all, and you need to consider if people are going to be watching on small screens or bigger ones. 

Messaging and tone of voice are our trade

“Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die.”

Mel Brooks

As American comedian Mel Brooks famously proclaimed in his quotable quote, messaging is ultimately very malleable. With some creativity, any of these formats can produce the message you want and the impact it creates. And there are so many styles to explore now — and you can merge different ones to form a hybrid! 

A look at our experience with the format

At Click2View, we’ve done countless talking head videos for countless clients, and while we really like most of them, here are some that we’re especially proud of. This Prudential Group Purpose video was made to feel anything but corporate, using eclectic colours and an unscripted interview to truly bring out the unity and personalities of the Prudential executives. 

Or the Visa V-economics Video Series, where we made a talking head video series with Visa’s APAC Principal Economist, Glenn Maguire on the disruptions and advancements brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. These interviews were information-dense but we lightened it up with visual infographics and animations and made sure to keep the mood as informal as we could. No matter your needs, we’re pretty sure we can deliver. Speak with our Head of Video JD Chua today at [email protected] to learn more about how to push your product!

Read more from Click2View:

  1. Redefining authorship with AI writing tools
  2. Data Storytelling: A Weapon of Mass Persuasion?
  3. How To Write a Good Blog
  4. The Consciousness As Content: Going Full Steam Meta In The Metaverse

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Click2View is Southeast Asia’s premiere full-service independent B2B content marketing agency servicing clients like Microsoft, Google, Visa, Prudential, and the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.