Get your Key Messages Across with A Talking Head
Whether it be introducing, informing or advertising, a simple talking head can really get your point across. Your goal might be to offer guidance through instructive scripting or it could be selling your latest product or service. What you need to do is encourage the viewers to hear what you have to say.
The very best way to get your point across is to make it relatable, engaging and interesting and often the best way is to get a presenter to give that all important message.
This article will give you an overview of how to get the best out of your talking head shoot and look at some key things to think about when choosing your presenter, preparing your script, what actions to include to make the production as watchable as possible.
Setting the Scene for your Talking Head
Whether you are shooting a pre-recorded 1 minute interview with a business owner with loads of room for error and retakes or whether your presenter will be recorded for broadcast TV in a single take – it is vital to prepare properly.
Ensure you are clear about your subject matter and think carefully about the key messages you want to convey. Focus on three or four points that you want to get across, even if you can break those points down for greater detail or encourage people to look at further media platforms for more information. Keep it brief. This will be better for the viewers and if you can’t say what you really need to say in a promotional message, in under 3 minutes then you will need to prep your script and make it more concise – you will be surprised how fast the time goes so keep it short, simple and to the point.
Preparing for your Presenter-led Production
That said, this is a good time to talk about preparation and scheduling. If you are struggling setting up the autocue while all are in place will give a nervy edge to the rest of the day and you will constantly behind. Especially if your clients are standing in to watch their shoot. This initial early meeting is a vital piece of the puzzle as it is time to meet members of the production crew and their working styles and to feel comfortable around each other in a pressured environment. Get the script to the autocue operator and cameraman early in pre-production as you will find their wealth of experience key to the end product.
For getting the script right and the importance of using an autocue and operator then have a look at some key points laid out in this guide here:
The Importance of – An Autocue and operator
Choosing your Presenter
Having a face to go with your brand can give your company or business a personal touch and you’ll also find greater flexibility for last minute changes in text or approach. A good presenter can easily adapt to satisfy your clients needs on the shoot too.
Experienced presenters can work in different styles and tones, with severity, light heartedly or somewhere in between and can emulate other presenting styles too. They can also help structure and form the script if they feel it doesn’t ‘read right’. This is where having a reading of the script ‘out loud’ to yourself or via colleagues can help you prepare and re-mould paragraphs so they flow better.
In this sense, allow time for a full read through to iron out any issues before arriving. This will also give a great idea of timing. Often we are told that its a 1minute script and it turns out to be 2 or 3 minutes once read out with actions, dramatic pauses, re-writes and so on.
Preparing your Presenter
Part of a successful finished production is understanding the target audience. This will lead the entire days approach. If your video presenter is reading an autocue script for the first time – or it could be with an additional interviewee who knows their stuff – then having a general editorial line will gear them up for the tone, style and pacing of the video. From experience hiring a professional presenter will give your piece a polished feel.
No matter how confident you are with your subject matter and however much you think you can nail the script in one take, you won’t. Even the very top pro’s require a few takes to get it right. Just getting the words out clearly isn’t always enough. Re-writes, ad libs, dramatic pauses, body position and hand gestures are all carefully thought-out essentials to getting your key messages across. Slightly more exaggerated gestures, smiling, foot positioning, eye contact and other subtle nuances are among considerations the average Joe/CEO/business owner would overlook to their detriment.
Getting the Right ‘Look’
So, now you have booked a studio, cast your presenter, gone through the wording with a fine tooth comb and prepped your cameraman on the shot list; it’s now time to shoot. First impressions are so important. Clothes, hair and good make up make such a difference so factor time and money to get these elements right. Hair, make up, confidence, body language are all huge factors so do your research on your audience and what will work for your needs.
Wear something that is comfortable, smart, clean and ironed. Avoid green for green screen shoots. Any fussy patterns such as pinstripes which can affect the camera too so bring a couple of options. Don’t wear excessive jewellery as this will jangle on the microphone and could distract your audience. If your presenter is female then nothing too short as you may be sat on a low sofa or seat. If this is the case then they can cross legs at the ankles rather than the knees.
Position your Presenter
Whatever your piece may be you might find it ideal to have your presenter sat down. A smart high stool, comfy sofa or sofa seat gives a relaxed feel and is often called the ‘Chat Show’ look. Great for easing your audience into a light hearted and easy going mood. It’s also useful for positioning interviewees so they relax themselves for a better interview. When standing up, presenters can use more gestures and hand motions and directions for background graphics and it can also be better for body position. This might be for used for adding dynamic movement into the video for less scripted pieces.
Production Tips: Camera Angles
Here are some tips which will help make your day run smoothly. There are many different approaches but I find these useful.
Shooting on a wider shot in the first instance will set the scene and allow the presenter to get into the flow and use gestures to elaborate. For a second run through it is advisable to move to a closer shot for many reasons. You can emphasise key points, re-run any sections that need tightening up in hindsight and for the editor to cut to on long speeches between paragraphs. Shooting wide then close up means you have a safety wide to cut to. Shooting close up will show any issues with clothing.
We have prepared a series of handy guides to help you with most elements of working on a production. See here for handy hints and tips about the most important factors. Get it right technically and professionally then the message has a greater chance of success. You wouldn’t want an ill thought out wardrobe malfunction or lack of preparation to spoil your valuable shoot.
More more information on the lighting for green screen, including clothing choices, see our handy guide here:
For general info on styles, technical choices and other things to consider when working with green screen. See here: