Steal this Ryan Trahan hook formula (6 steps)

May 10th, 2024



min read

There's a rule I always follow when writing a YouTube hook:

If in doubt, keep it simple 👇

(Bookmark this article - my simple, 3-step hook formula.)

But, if we look closely, it's easy to spot the little extra sauce the biggest YouTubers use to keep us hooked.

So this week, I studied Ryan Trahan.

And I discovered the cheeky psychological trick you can steal that'll hook viewers for longer (in 6 simple steps).

For this demo, we'll break down the hook of I Stayed in Every Hotel at Disney World...

1/ Context

"Disney World claims to be the most magical place on Earth."

  • Provides brief context on the setting.
  • We know we’re going to Disney World.

Other examples of “context” sentences:

  • “So everyone wants to get more productive…”
  • “The new iPad just sent Twitter crazy…”
  • “How powerful is a slingshot?”

Simply introduce the audience to the topic.

2/ Proof

[B-Roll from Ryan's visit.] "Not only are the theme parks unbelievable but there are dozens of hotels at Disney that seem like fairy tales..."

  • Instantly proves he’s doing what we clicked for.
  • Low-res cameraphone footage proves he went.
  • This shot also cuts in dramatically after just 3 seconds. The earlier you can offer your "proof", the better.

Other examples of “proof”:

  • [B-Roll timelapse.] “So I spent 37 hours researching the best productivity hacks...”
  • [B-Roll of new iPad in creator’s hands.] So I bought it...
  • [B-Roll of slingshot being fired in slow motion] “I wanted to find out whether it could…”

Your “proof” can be entirely visual. Get a good shot that proves you did the thing.

3/ Structure

"This week I'm going to every single Disney World hotel to investigate."

  • Orients the viewer within the video right away.
  • We know he’s going to stay in 8 locations, each crazier than the last.
  • Remember - structure is SO important. Make it obvious what the flow of the video is going to be.

Other examples of “structure”:

  • “We’re gonna talk about the 10 best hacks that I found.
  • “I’m gonna test the iPad in [XYZ] different ways.”
  • “I’m gonna build a slingshot, compare it to my other one, and then…”

This is closely related to step 5, but we need to complete step 4 first.

4/ Motivation

"And guess who I'm bringing? A girl. A girl that says we don't have enough photos together."

  • Explains why he’s making the video. Ryan’s wife is revealed to be going with him.
  • After the first 3 speedy segments, you’ll notice this part slows down.
  • When introducing an important character (and the motivation for the entire video), it’s ok to go slower.

Other examples of “motivation”:

  • “Most of us struggle to get through our to-do lists…”
  • “I’m desperate to find a lightweight solution to travelling with my tech…”
  • “Last time I built a slingshot, I got humiliated…”

Give your video emotional weight, either for the involved characters (entertainment), or for the viewer (educational).

5/ Plan

"So my plan is simple. I take her to the most magical place on Earth - Orlando Florida, home of Disney World. And, every day, capture a magical moment that we bring home to frame."

  • Now we understand the ‘why’, he explains the ‘how’.
  • Think of this step like ‘upgrading’ your structure, now with added emotional weight.

Other examples of “plan”:

  • “I’m testing which technique boosts my productivity most over the next month.”
  • “I’m swapping out my Mac for an iPad all week.”
  • “To build a better slingshot, I’ll need to [ABC]…”

It's ok to add more detail to the concept once the audience understands your "why".

6/ Payoff

"And Haley doesn't know this, but I'm really trying to book the room inside of the Magic Kingdom Castle, which is nearly impossible by the way."

  • Sets up the Grand Payoff - the ultimate curiosity of the video.
  • While the structure creates inherent curiosity (”I wonder how nice/crazy/expensive each place is.”)…
  • ...Ryan sets up a secret goal re. the final location which even his wife doesn't know about.
  • This Grand Payoff creates a bunch of curiosity for us:
    • Will he be able to book the actual Disney Castle?
    • What’s it like in there?
    • How will she react?

Other examples of setting up the “payoff”:

  • “I’ll reveal the biggest timesaver…”
  • “I’m going to find out if this iPad iscould actually replace my Mac.”
  • “Can my new slingshot destroy a ballistic dummy?”

Think - what's going to get your audience really curious?

On your next script...

  1. Write out these 6 steps.
  2. Force yourself to write a sentence for each.
  3. Craft a hook using these components.

Remember - you don't have to stick to the same order as Ryan. Simply try to include all 6 elements.

Oh, one last thing...

What traits do successful YouTubers share?

Ever wondered what multi-million sub YouTubers are actually like in person?

Are they driven? Introverted? Strategically lazy?!

Having worked with a tonne of huge YouTubers for the last 2 years, Gwilym, Jamie and I discussed the traits we've spotted time and time again 👇

The Characteristics That Make YouTubers Go Viral

Watch Now

That's all for this week. Any questions, just let me know :)

Speak soon,
George 👋

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