You might be a complete natural on camera. If you are, then please allow me to heartily applaud you because I certainly wasn’t and still find it a struggle.
Having a captivating on-screen presence is often a key to success on YouTube. One thing you will notice about YouTubers who run big successful channels is they have a recognisable presence. Thinking of your top 3 YouTubers, can you pick out some words to describe them?
Here are a few popular YouTubers as examples:
Zoella – girl next door, bubbly, homely
Pewdiepie – devil-may-care attitude, crazy, dynamic
Devinsupertramp – enthusiastic, confident, trustworthy
Simon and Martina – lovable, goofy, creative
If you can think of words to describe them that carry across several videos, then they have achieved an on-screen-presence. If Zoella suddenly acted like Pewdiepie, it would turn her viewers off. Even if she acted like DevinSupertramp it would be confusing. That’s because your on-screen-presence is usually a part of your brand.
So let’s start with the basics in this post and maybe later on we can revisit this to create an even more nuanced presence.
- What works with your content?
A personality and attitude that suits a fashion channel may not suit a tech review channel. A comedy channel will probably differ from a music channel. There are lots of varieties of content, so think about what makes sense for your content and how you can work with that. Do you want to make movie review videos that are more informative or more make people emotive? That’ll dictate your level of professionalism and even the language you use.
2. What works with your target audience?
What kind of person do you want to watch your videos? Taking the movie channel idea further, maybe you want teenagers and those in their early 20s to identify with you and your opinions. Maybe you want to make in depth movie reviews for people 30+ that use secondary sources. Maybe you want to target industry experts themselves. A different on screen presence would appeal to each of these audiences, from more informal to more professional.
Think about your channel. Who do you want to watch it? What would they like to see? What would they relate to?
3. What works for you?
This point shouldn’t necessarily be considered last on the list just because I placed it here. It’s really important that whatever presence you want to make works for you. If being a bubbly friend-next-door kind of person isn’t you, don’t force it. Your audience will be able to tell and you won’t be able to keep it up in the long term (unless you are an almighty actor/actress).
If you want to be a certain way on camera but find the effect isn’t quite what you intended when you review your footage, help yourself out by making notes. I used to stick a piece of paper with the word “Smile!” to my tripod because my smile would slip off my face without me even knowing it.
There are more factors we can consider, but let’s stick with these for now. Here’s some homework for you (because don’t we all love homework).
Grab a notebook and write each of the three headings above, then start to make notes on what works for you. Have a look at your subscription page and see what kinds of personality traits attracted you to subscribe. Don’t make videos as an impersonation of Pewdiepie or one of your other subscriptions! But see what elements you would like to adopt if you can.