How To Start Your YouTube Video Without “Hey Guys!”

If I hear it one more time…

Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

Maybe I’ve spent too much of my day watching probiotic reviews. Maybe I’m just writing to avoid emptying the dishwasher. Whatever the reason, I can’t do this anymore. I can’t press play on more more YouTube video knowing full well that no matter who I’m watching, or for what reason, they’re ALL going to start their video with a big, toothy smile and a cheerful, optimistic “Hey guys!” Makes me sick.

It’s so assumptive. These creators operate from a place of assumed adoration and love that I think should be bottled and sold at Target next to the Wellbutrin. But they’re also an entire social media platform of insufferably happy Golden Retrievers and they must be stopped.

“Hey guys!” It’s the same thing every time. If you own a decent camera and have access to natural light you are 100% starting your videos this way. As if there’s some unspoken requirement among YouTubers or the phrase itself unlocks vast swaths of followers and views like a magical Mario whistle. It’s so prevalent in fact that I assume you could spin YouTube like a globe in your grandpa’s living room and no matter where you land, it’s what you’ll hear first.

Would you sit down to dinner with friends and let “Hey guys!” fly out of your mouth every single time? You’d be mocked! Filmed! Tweeted about mercilessly! YouTubers wouldn’t say this regularly to people in person, and yet are completely comfortable never varying from it when staring down the barrel of a camera. It’s baffling! It’s like eating nothing but the same bowl of granola every day for breakfast. Eventually they must want to mix things up! Have a banana!

“Hey guys!” I get that settling into what’s comfortable is a natural course of human behavior, and that’s fine. We are creatures of habit and we flock to what’s feels safe to us. Small talk exists for this very reason. We begin with what we know. But when it comes to YouTube videos that I voluntarily choose to watch and suffer through Casper ads for, I can’t take it any longer. That chipper “Hey guys!” carefully concealing a host of affiliate links under its robes. I know what they’re doing, and why they’re doing it. Hell, I’ve even dabbled m’self! But I cannot, I simply cannot hear “Hey guys!” one more time or I will turn this car around so help me.

Never one to complain about something without also offering alternative courses of action, I am happy to give the YouTube community a few options. Just a few helpful words and phrases to get the gears cranking in favor of freshness, interest, and some fucking variety. Here we go:


How hard was that?! A greeting you’ve been intimately familiar with since your parents taught you how to wave when you were a baby. It’s simple, direct, welcoming, and happy. You’ll love it.

Hi! I’m [name], and welcome to my channel!

See I like this one because it’s not assumptive. Look, I know one million people around the globe watch you smear lotion on your face, but it might be nice not to assume you’re the most popular girl in class every damn day.

What’s Up?

I will admit I’ve heard this one too, so I just want to caution you against the natural tendency to add “guys” onto the end of this. Keep it short, crisp, 90s slang to the max.

Good Morning! (or whatever time of day it happens to be)

Standard, old fashioned, original recipe greeting. Get into it.

The Weather Report

A bit playful, start by letting everyone know what the local weather will be. This has the benefit of being both charming and potentially useful. Put your own spin on things, get creative. That’s what YouTubers are, right? Right?!


Always keep ’em on their toes.

Hello in a new language every time

Warm, welcoming, and educational! There are enough languages on this planet to keep you occupied for YEARS.

Recite a sonnet

Lace fan not necessary, but encouraged.

Blow a party horn

Unexpected, creative, upbeat, it’s perfect! Honestly anything to avoid the sound of “Hey guys!” coming through my laptop speakers yet again. This one’s so fun! It’ll become your new signature. Use a different kind of horn every time. Throw some confetti while you’re at it. Get wild.

Put on a cardigan, change your shoes, and say “Hi neighbor”

Go full Mr. Rogers. You have my permission. I still can’t watch that documentary, I’m afraid it’ll break me.


Just start talking. Do you hear me? Just start talking. Just dive in. We get it, we’ve done this song and dance before, we came here because you’ve already tried something we want to try, probably got it for free, and you’re winning the SEO game babe. Just get to the good stuff, the jig is up.

To conclude, do stop this. Stop being predictably YouTubey. Be original, inspiring, a leader in the space, even! We come to you because you’re offering us information we want. You have us where you want us. Now it’s up to you to be the original, creative, follow-worthy individual who’s asking the world to press play. I believe in you, you can do it. Right guys?

NPR once called me a humor essayist, let’s go with that. Host of A Single Serving Podcast. shanisilver[at]gmail

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