Talking Head Videos

What is it?

​A talking head video features an individual speaking directly into a camera. If you do not have access to a recording studio, this style of video can be created nearly anywhere with a computer and webcam, tablet, or smart phone. 

Why should I do it?

Instructor Presence

Instructor presence is an educator's ubiquity in a classroom via three modalities: cognitive, social, and teaching. At times, the lack of a physical space can make the online classroom feel devoid of an presence. Using a talking head video can help establish your presence in the classroom because you will be see and heard by learners. 


Immediacy is an educator's direct involvement with learners in the classroom. A sense of immediacy can be difficult to create in the online classroom. A talking head video can help because learners get a better feel for you and your personality.

Cognitive Load

Cognitive load is the amount of mental effort used in working memory. As students work to learn new information, we can help them manage cognitive load by adhering to the Coherence Principle. This principle indicates that people learn better when they are able to focus on the most important information. This means avoiding extraneous words, pictures, and sounds. Learn more about Designing for Learning.

What tools do I need?

  • webcam/microphone

  • a recording application

  • free video hosting

Free Application for Creating Talking Head Videos


Screencast-O-Matic (SOM)

Record unlimited videos (up to 15 minutes per video). SOM can record your webcam and screen simultaneously. Save your video locally or publish directly to YouTube. ​​

Check out this example Talking Head video recorded with Screencast-O-Matic:



Clark, R. C., Mayer, R. E. (2011) e-Learning and the science of instruction; Proven guidelines for consumers and designers of multimedia learning (3). Hoboken, US: Pfeiffer.


Mayer, R. E. (2012). Multimedia learning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Mayer, R. E. (2014). The Cambridge handbook of multimedia learning. (2nd ed). New York: University of Cambridge.