How researchers get heard
Abstract lines

Video: Getting Rid of the Talking Head

Three years ago, Digiday reported that 85 percent of people on Facebook watch videos without the sound on.

Add to that:

  • 28 million people in the United States are deaf;
  • Foreign language speakers often have trouble understanding soundtracks; and
  • Gen Z loves closed captioning

and I’m amazed — three years on — how many research-driven organizations still see captioning as an ADA requirement, instead of an opportunity to forcefully drive home their messages.

Now, an increasing number of organizations are exploiting that opportunity through open captions — text narration burned right into the video.

The trend makes sense:

Instead, the caption leads the viewer, with the talking heads (if they’re there at all) getting the occasional glance.

For example: The World Economic Forum (WEF) now has a suite of 80-second explainer videos for Facebook.

Bjorn Lomborg’s Copenhagen Consensus Center is taking a similar approach to thought leadership summaries promoting his Project Syndicate essays — here’s a native LinkedIn video promoting a Lomborg column on what he calls “climate change exaggeration.”

Notice how both the WEF and Lomborg videos highlight key text in the captions, making it hard for even the distracted to miss the main points.

Maybe if every video looked like these, of course, video might be boring. But not as boring as another talking-head video.

Right now, there’s white space to experiment with captioning as the messaging avatar — maybe even with open captions/talking head combinations. I hear good things about Clipomatic if you’re shooting with an iPhone or iPad.

If thought leadership moves to video wholesale, we might look back at open captioning as the defining moment for the template.