Lydia Sweatt is a writer who loves balancing her article/blog time indoors with a healthy dose of nature. She bikes, hikes, and identifies edible plants along the way.
YouTube Intros: 8 Ways to Hook Viewers In the First 8 Seconds
The most critical part of a YouTube video is the first eight seconds — or in other words, the introduction. There's much to do in this brief timespan to keep the viewer's attention and fight off boredom. You should provide some form of entertainment, spark their interest, and tease the value you promised in the video title.
But creating an intro for each YouTube video is more art than science. It's not as simple as saying, "One meme + one joke = happy viewers."
If you want to personalize your YouTube intro, you need more information. What makes your viewers smile, laugh, or cry? How can you evoke those emotions at the start of each video?
The only way to find out is by testing different introductions. And just for you, we're sharing eight ways to engage YouTube viewers from the start.
1. Tease the Juicier Parts of Your Video
Instead of introducing topics the usual way, tease the most entertaining scene from your YouTube video. You'll want to choose a clip that evokes powerful emotions within your audience — something to make them gasp, laugh, or frown.
This moment isn't hard to find, either. It's usually the climax of your story, where the plot becomes wildly captivating. That could be the moment a prank goes wrong, the minute you reveal a secret, or a "failed" activity that sparks gut-busting laughter.
These moments grab your viewers' attention by showing them what to expect. They know what's coming, so they have a reason to stick around and see how it all unfolds!
2. Offer to Solve a Problem
What type of challenges do your viewers face? Do they have trouble getting into college, finding a job they love, or training their pets? Do they want to pay off credit card debt without feeling overwhelmed?
If you know what's bothering them, address that in your intro and promise a real solution. This simple act will make viewers feel seen and understood, as though watching your video could potentially change their lives.
3. Ask a Relatable Question
Questions make great conversation starters, but they're also effective in YouTube intros. This strategy works because the viewer has to stop and think about what you've asked them. And while they're wrestling with the answer, they don't have time to think about leaving the video — not yet, anyway.
Of course, this is exactly what you want to happen. Your primary goals are to make people quit scrolling, pay attention, and engage with the video.
So when you ask a question in your intro, make sure it's:
- Relevant to viewers' lives
- An interesting thing to consider
- Easy to understand
- Going to be addressed in the video
4. Share an Interesting Fact
Sometimes reality is more shocking than fiction. For example, did you know that a typical cloud weighs over 1 million pounds? Or that more people live in tiny Bangladesh (164 million) than in spacious Russia (144 million)?
You can easily make a nice intro for your YouTube video by stating one of these mind-blowing facts. Viewers will be so blown away that they have to stick around and learn more.
5. Engage the Senses
When creating an intro, try to engage as many human senses as possible. Give people something fascinating to look at, even if that means all you did was change the camera angle. Let them hear a variety of sounds, and add some text to break up the monotony of only hearing your words.
These elements make a video entertaining, and you can feel the difference when they aren't there. The pace is slower, the scenes are too quiet, and before you know it, you leave the video out of sheer boredom.
But adding these elements will stop from viewers clicking away:
- Sound effects
- Music changes
- Different text styles
- Video motion: jump-cuts, camera panning, zoom-ins, zoom-outs
- And if you want to experiment, try animated intros
6. Use Pop Culture References
The trick to using pop culture references in your intro is to make them both timely and entertaining.
Use viral memes to spice things up. Repurpose a trending sound from TikTok. Hop on the latest dance craze to get viewers' attention.
But before you do any of that, ask yourself what's popular right now. You could check the trending section of social media apps — Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and more — to see what people are talking about.
7. Start with an Inspirational Quote
If your viewers like to be encouraged, why not open your video with an inspirational quote? This simple act prepares your viewers for more uplifting content, so they make it through the intro and onto other scenes.
Best of all, famous quotes are everywhere. You can get them from industry experts, books, TV shows, movies; the list goes on. Just remember to credit the original author when you reference a quote.
8. Tell a Joke
Telling a joke might be considered corny or cliche, but it's still an excellent way to open your video.
Whether the joke lands or not, you'll completely disarm the viewer and catch them off guard. They'll either think, That was extremely bad or That was so funny I can hardly breathe! Either way, you'll have their full attention.
But you don't have to tell a joke, per se. Sometimes you can show a funny scene where you act out a joke instead of saying it on camera.
How Long Should a YouTube Video Intro Be?
On average, the intro for a YouTube video should be 10 seconds or less. We say 10 seconds because YouTube emphasizes the first 30 seconds when showing your audience retention in the YouTube Studio. Most viewers click away at the 30-second mark, so you want to catch their attention ASAP.
To be on the safe side, you could even shoot for eight seconds and try to hook viewers before 10 have even passed. That way, you'd be getting to the point faster.
From there, you can jump into the meat of your video during seconds 11-20, well before the 30-second mark. You would even set yourself up to earn more watch time as people stick around.
Always Make Your Viewers Feel Something
As a YouTube creator, your main goal is to share your passion with like-minded people. So let this energy spill over into your YouTube intro!
Do something funny to make your audience smile. Do something shocking to make them gasp. Try to be the highlight of their day, and they'll reciprocate by watching more videos.
If you need more guidance, watch this video about creating powerful YouTube intros: