Popular YouTubers such as PewDiePie, Zoella, Michelle Phan, Lilly Singh and Bethany Mota have one thing in common: they know how to get an audience to listen to them. These YouTubers exercise a massive influence on their followers with one attention grabbing trick.
They all employ a catchy “YouTube voice”.
Julie Beck from The Atlantic describes the “YouTube Voice” as, “a variety of ways of emphasising words, none of which are actually exclusive to YouTube—people employ these devices all the time” to grab listeners’ attention. She further adds that, “when you’re just talking to a camera without much action, it takes a little more to get, and keep, that attention”.
Naomi Baron, a professor of linguistics at American University studying electronically mediated communication noticed a few linguistic components of a YouTube voice. She observed the vloggers often overstress vowels, add extra vowels between consonants (for example, when vloggers say “terapping” instead of “trapping”), stretch out vowels (for example, when vloggers say sliiiiightly instead of slightly) and elongate consonants (hear Vlogbrothers say “fascinatingly”). Baron also noticed that YouTubers often changed the pace of their monologues. She says that elongating certain words can sped up or slow down pace. Further, vloggers often moved their heads and hands a lot, raised their eyebrows and opened their mouths wider than necessary.
Take a look at Zoella’s video, for example.
Julie Beck attributes this “bouncy” speaking style as a major attention-grabbing factor. It’s a style that most YouTubers have picked up, because it works well with the audience. Creators come across sounding highly energetic, which is great for retaining viewers beyond the first 30 seconds of a video.
Before you make your next video, check out videos by popular YouTubers and observe their speaking style. Consider how you can emulate their language, gestures, facial expressions and spoken emphases. However, add your own twist of creativity to ensure you don’t end up sounding like them. As Baron states, “In an attempt to make yourself sound special, you end up sounding like this whole genre of other people.” The goal is to stay in sync with the trend, while being original.
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Manasa Boggaram is a writer and has a strong passion for music, positive news and constructive journalism. When she is not researching story ideas or writing blog posts, she spends her time reading books, discovering new music and eating lots of street food.