Talking Head Script Tips
Talking heads, or individuals directly addressing the camera (and therefore the audience) have to be used carefully.
The Talking Head needs to say things that carry the video forward, support the training objectives, and win the audience.
It’s not like an opera where the storyline grinds to halt while someone sings.
A talking head has to propel the video forward, not bring it to a halt.
For this reason:
> For each talking head, get script agreed in advance. Specify as 50 or 100, or 150 words.
> If the Talking Head script is longer than 150 words, you need to ask serious questions. Why is the VIP spot this long? Audiences will grow bored unless something creative is planned.
> Be prepared to amend the script during the video shoot to accommodate the talking head’s speaking style.
> It’s always better to use a teleprompt (which can be hired if you don;’t own one) rather than rely on memory, or ad-libbing.
Even if you only have small cameo drama sections, it’s still better to use professional or amateur actors, than your own staff.
Areas where actors and drama can be used with great effect in a training video include:
> Demonstrating interpersonal skills, where the subtleties of how people interact need to be seen, not just talked about. For example, customer training videos.
> Describing how people feel about what they’re learning, or adapting to. This is useful if a new procedure is controversial, or unexpected, and own staff are not available to talk about it.
> Re-enacting something that has already happened, where people need to understand the circumstances and the consequences. For example, and accident or incident in a safety training video.
There is no limit to the use of actors. Wherever people need to be on camera, you can use an actor or extra if you feel it’ll better deliver the business message in a more professional manner.
Every drama scene needs to have Anticipation, Action and Reaction.
These were Walt Disney’s cardinal rules of cartoon animation, and they still apply to the production of many acting scenes today.
The pitfalls is to write too much in the Anticipation scene. It’s too easy to write a mini-soap, with a great build-up to the main action point.
But this isn’t what’s required, even though it feels like fun to produce.
Training video production is about delivering training points so individuals feel motivated to comply.
It’s not about winning an Oscar for a training drama.
So make the Anticipation brief, and focus on the Action and Reaction.