Can a homely old guy with no charisma succeed on YouTube?

Asking for a friend. I’m hoping to have a conversation about how to use YouTube for science communication on Sunday at noon my time. Maybe it’s not possible. Some of us just have a face or voice made for blogging. Tell me what you think this weekend.

If anyone wants to join the livestream, drop me an email and let me know, and maybe I’ll respond with a link so you can join in. Maybe. I’ll be a little discriminating about who I’ll share a screen with.

Hey, I just had an idea — more spiders. Maybe I could recruit a spider co-host to add more charm!


  1. Tethys says

    YouTube could certainly be improved with more channels run by academics.

    There are several good sites that focus on history and language where the narrator isn’t on camera. They use maps, charts, and various visual aids to illustrate their topic.

  2. Callinectes says

    I recommend many images, videos, diagrams so that it’s more than a talking head in an office. I have noticed some of the most popular science idea videos use evocative music and careful editing, though that will require an investment of time and depending on the music, licencing.

    Also, know what run time you want in advance and stick to it. Don’t let a video go long-form unless you intended it from the start, such as a discussion or interview. People are more likely to click on and watch a 9 minute video than a 60 minute video, even if they end up watching 60 minutes worth of video anyway, and shorter videos tend to be much clearer, concise, and stay on-topic, per the demands of the constraints.

  3. fentex says

    Hey, I just had an idea — more spiders. Maybe I could recruit a spider co-host to add more charm!

    You could. I was shown a video all about how CodeMiko plays with technology on Twitch, using a motion capture to present what she does. And it strikes me that creating a Spider host wouldn’t be all that hard these days, and it’s exactly where online life is going – making use of all the animation / rendering / virtualisation tools.

  4. DrVanNostrand says

    Don’t be so hard on yourself. I’ve heard you talk and your voice is perfectly fine!

  5. Tethys says

    The various specialist archeologists in the British show Time Team appear to have been very well received. The show ran for 20 years and can now be found on YouTube.

    They look exactly like a diverse group of professors, not TV personalities. It is refreshing to watch real people engaged in doing real science. It’s also highly educational as they cover all eras of human history, and provide expert information on all of them.

  6. says

    If, by “succeed”, you mean channel growth, I recommend checking this guy out on YouTube. He has an entire channel for helping people grow on YouTube…
    Nick Nimmin

    I have many friends that have followed his advice and seen really good growth on their channels vs. before they took his advice.

  7. =8)-DX says

    One of my favourite Youtubers, shaun, doesn’t even use a webcamera and records podcast-type videos with simple graphics, dry humour and screenshots from the books and articles he’s read. He has 380K subs, so no: your appearance doesn’t matter.

    What matters is regular and consistent content early on, for a number of years, good writing and effective communication.

    Lile a science lecture only pretending to be just an interesting thing to talk about. Now other people make it variously big on yt using other methods like editing, costumes, props, running gags, etc. But it’s not a requirement

  8. says

    I hope I find the time and mental surplus this weekend, but I would love to chime in with a thing or two from my limited experience as a YouTuber myself. That is, If you’re still interested in a crazy crackpot like me. 😅 I promise to leave my craziest ideas on the shelf in any case.

  9. birgerjohansson says

    One of my favv Youtubers is a lady mortician.
    A spider youtuber will do just fine.

  10. InitHello says

    I can relate. I have a face made for radio and a voice that’s perfect for silent films.

  11. says

    There are things like facerig that try to watch your expression and render it on a 3d model; there is even a “sexy spider lady” form model. (Elise from League of Legends)

    This is not a serious suggestion. But the tech is coming to “help” with this problem.

  12. brightmoon says

    Pleasant looking older man with a soft voice whats to dislike! Love the purple beard from lady who dyed her hair fuchsia