The client was happy with the video spokesperson — true HD and studio quality sound — the script was compelling and to the point. The video was installed in a way that layered it nicely onto the webpage. The video played on the iPhone, iPad and Android smartphones. The actor’s performance was persuasive, but…“the actor didn’t gesture…not once!”
That’s almost verbatim from a client email.
There are two reasons clients generally give for requesting that a video spokesperso “gesture”…i.e., move his or her hands around and point at stuff.
First, to give a natural performance. Secondly, to point to navigation or interactive features.
I understand the first point. On first blush it appears that a virtual spokesperson seems to be more “natural” when they move their hands a little. And there is some truth in that observation, but it is highly subjective and not supported by the “eye-tracking studies.”
Eye-tracking studies are sophisticated tests conducted to evaluate where an online user is looking when they navigate a webpage. One thing is clear from the studies, when a user views video online the user generally doesn’t pay attention to anything other than the presenter’s face. More than nintey percent (90+%) of the users focus is on the face according to different studies.
Most of the other 10% is spent being distracted by other elements on the screen. In other words, just about everything on the screen other than the virtual spokesperson’s face is a distraction from the message. Hand gestures may add to the sense that the video spokesperson is natural but it may just as likely distract from the message being delivered.
And what about pointing to navigation or interactive features? This is a nice technique with one really large failing. Websites tend to change over time. Move the link or button or change the name of the button and suddenly you could have your virtual spokesperson pointing into space. Not a problem if you don’t mind re-shooting the video spokesperson.
We prefer a better solution. With our interactive code we can embed buttons, links and other interactive features into the video itself. Technically these features are not part of the video but sophisticated overlays. These overlays can easily be changed and updated without the need of an expensive re-shoot.
With gestures, our suggestion is more is less. Focus on developing a compelling and relevant message and make sure the gestures are subtle and don’t distract from job number one: delivery your message.