Finding Your Voice in Video

Let’s play a game.

Picture your top three favorite YouTubers or Instagram influencers (specifically the ones that create video content). Who makes it on this list? Who are the creators you social stalk during your lunch break? Who do you wake up to watch first thing Thursday morning (or whenever they release their latest videos)?

Now, may I ask you a question about the people on this list?

GREAT! Thanks.

  • Why do you like these people?
  • Why are they entertaining to you?
  • What makes them different from other creators?
  • If someone else was making the same video content, would you watch them just as eagerly?
If you feel so compelled, create an actual list. Write down the qualities you love about each of these people. Maybe they’re really sarcastic, maybe they’re super knowledgeable or passionate about a certain topic, maybe they’re a little abrasive or over-the-top, which totally reminds you of your favorite aunt.

Do you notice any patterns, any common threads among the qualities you listed?

Did you just skip over the list making part and scroll right down looking for an answer?

Well there’s no right answer (sorry I’m not sorry), but there are definitely common threads among all creators.

When it comes to video creation, there are two main ingredients that go into every great video: content and delivery.

Have you ever heard someone say “it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it”?

Helllllooo, that’s delivery!

Today, I’m talking about a very specific element of delivery, and that is (drumrolllllll): personality!

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Personality!

Personality!

Personality!

There’s an abundance of personality on YouTube, almost too much personality (is that a thing?). Why does personality abound on the world’s second largest search engine?

Because a powerful and compelling personality makes YouTubers extremely watchable. Whether it’s brazen, snarky comedy like Jenna Marbles or practical, genuine, and smart advice from Amy Schmittauer. The best YouTubers have distinct personality qualities that make them unique as a creator. This is why they thrive on a platform that is known for video content.

At this point, you should be asking yourself what are the qualities that make my videos unique and watchable? and how do I make my personality stand out in my videos?

Developing a unique video personality, often referred to as your voice, is essential to helping you build an audience that’s totally on your side!

So how do you do it?

1. Know Yourself
Easier said than done, right? Personality tests may feel like they’re just for therapy sessions or job placement, but they can be a great tool for helping you understand who you are. One of my favorite tests of all time is the 16 Personalities Analysis (also known as Meyers-Briggs test).

The Eclectic Energies Test is another great one. Give these tests a whirl and you’ll get a quick rundown of how people see you, what your strengths and weaknesses are, and what makes you unique. It’s like looking under the hood of a car to see how it all works. Learn about yourself and then lean into it!

The key to having an awesome video personality is not trying to be someone else; it’s being unapologetically you: the good, the bad, the totally nuts. People want to see it all!

2. Interview your friends
Ask them what they like about you, what you bring to the friendship, what they admire about you.

Many times we see ourselves differently than others see us.

Have you ever heard the phrase you are your own worst critic? It’s pretty common, so don’t beat yourself up (although you probably will).

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Our views of our own selves are skewed because we hold our own flaws and shortcomings under a microscope.

The things others love about you might be completely invisible to you. Sit down and interview your closest friends. What you uncover may surprise you.
3. Practice

Actors rehearse. Athletes scrimmage. Musicians diligently practice before performing.
When you embark on this journey, it may feel like a lot of throwing spaghetti at the wall. Don’t expect to have everything fleshed out right off the bat.

Remember that perfection is the enemy of progress.

Trying to be perfect will only paralyze you and then you’ll have zero videos to show for it. I’ll tell you right now that zero videos is a bad strategy.

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4. Take an improv class

Improv gives you an opportunity to play, experiment, and explore different types of characters and voices. It’s the most fun I’ve had as an adult, and it will make you a substantially better creator in so many ways, namely by getting you out of your head (cause that’s where all our fears are), and putting you in a state of playful flow.

Many improv schools offer a one-time free class. But the best thing you can do for yourself is to sign up for a series of classes that immerses you in the community and the work. There’s usually a performance at the end of these classes, too, which may push some people the very edge of their comfort zone. Feeling challenged? That means you should sign up yesterday. You may pleasantly surprise yourself.
5. Stand for something
Stand for something, girl!

Sometimes we’re so scared to voice our own opinions because we fear what others will think about us (been there). But guess what?

Reread #4: Practice. Practice habits that will inform your opinion. (Even if it means reading some headlines on your morning commute.)

People without opinions are BORING and UNWATCHABLE.

You’re bound to grow a more passionate audience when you have opinions about things. Stand for something. Believe in something. Let that carry your video personality and nurture a loyal following.
The main thing to be aware of here is that it takes time to develop your voice.

Don’t get discouraged!

Yes, some people have it right away. And for others, it takes years to evolve. Be gentle with yourself in this process.

What have you done to develop your video personality? Do you have other tips for creators? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you.