Silence Is Not Golden

If you’re thinking about streaming or have just started, then you have already read the numerous articles telling you to continually talk no matter if the chat is empty or not.  And I know what you’re thinking, “Wait?  You want me to talk to myself?  Like a crazy person?”  Yep.  Just like that individual on the street at two in the morning yelling at a garbage can because it owes them money.

What does talking to yourself do?  It instantly makes you more interesting.  The “garbage screamer” may be nuts, but you’ll still wonder about the story behind the incident, right?  And then you’ll probably even share the story with someone you know.  Well, it’s the same principle when first start to stream.  If you want to gain followers and become somewhat successful you have to talk…even when no one is listening.  Why?  Because first impressions are very, very important.  In fact, Kiratze shared an excellent article right here on StreamerSquare about “First Impressions.”  But we’re not here to repeat what everyone else already told you.  Nope.  We’re here to discuss what radio broadcasters call “Dead Air.”

So you’re sitting in your car and you have the person of your dreams right next you as you’re belting lines from your favorite Katy Perry song and—BAM—sudden silence.  The radio goes out.  Of course a few more bars of tone-deaf lines accidentally fell out of your mouth, but now there’s nothing.  What do you do?  The moment instantly went from the greatest cover of “I Kissed a Girl” to the most awkward moment in dating history.  So what’s your next move?  How do you recover?  How do you keep the momentum going?  Well…that’s what we’re here to discuss.  Not dating of course, but the silence when broadcasting.  Because whether you know it or not, at one point, if you keep on streaming and talking to yourself, there’s going to come a time when you look at chat and see two tiny letters that might make a first time streamer freeze like a teenager that just got caught fapping to Dead or Alive.  And those letters are “Hi.”  Every streamer’s response should be “Hello” back and maybe followed by “Welcome.” But what’s next?

THE STREAMER’S PERSPECTIVE:

If you’re an outgoing person that’s always the center of attention, continuing a conversation will come easily to you.  It might feel a little awkward at first talking to a computer, but you’ll get used to it after a while.  But some in the gaming world are slight introverts and they’ll have to overcome the comfort of silence to gain followers.  And if you don’t lead the conversation after the greetings, it could make or break someone sticking around to watch your content and even decide whether or not they follow.  And Followers are very important to small channels, almost as important as regulars (but that’ll have to wait for a later article).

So you said hello back and maybe even took a swig of water to make the word seem longer, but now what?  Well, you could go on talking about the game and what you’re going to do next, just like you were doing before anyone came in, but that’s really not conversing.  That’s not what Twitch is all about.  That’s you providing commentary that anyone can find on YouTube (don’t misunderstand…sometimes you have to fall back on commentary, but that’s only if the viewers aren’t responding to you).  The best way to continue the conversation is to talk about what everybody on Twitch has in common: Video Games.  You might be saying, “Well, duh!”  But you have no idea how many times I’ve seen new streamers say hello and then go silent and wait.  Never wait.  Never allow silence to take over your stream.  Silence is awkward.  Silence won’t get you anywhere.

So start off easy.  “Have you played this game (obviously the game you’re streaming) already or are you thinking of getting it?”  You may encounter a one word answer like, “No.”  Don’t let it discourage you and certainly don’t take offense.  Some viewers don’t have a lot of time to type or maybe they’re nervous because English isn’t their first language.  Or it could be that they’re supposed to be working (guilty) and can’t really type paragraphs while trying to hide the stream in the office.  Just continue on.  Describe the game and what you find interesting about it or not interesting about it.  Ask them what type of games they like to play.  What their favorite game is?  What they’re currently playing?  Tell them a story about the time you got drunk and accidentally fell into a jail cell.  The point is to keep it going.  Will this guarantee someone staying or following?  Sorry to burst your bubble, but nothing in this life is guaranteed…except the old “paying taxes” thing and dying.  But keeping yourself vocal will definitely increase your odds of having people stay in your channel.  And if someone happens to pop in and you’re talking about a game or discussing your biggest moment of stupidity, people are more likely to stick around and join in on the conversation.  If you don’t believe me, just watch some of the biggest streamers on Twitch (the ones that aren’t professional world renowned gamers…those channels are exceptions.  They sometimes rely more on excellent gameplay than interaction) and you’ll see how they do it.  And that’s really the best advice (besides avoiding silence) I can give.  You have all the reference you need in other streams, so when you’re not streaming, make sure you’re taking some time to carefully watch the pros for pointers.

THE VIEWER’S PERSPECTIVE:

I know most people see Twitch as a format to gain video game knowledge and to check out the latest and greatest releases.  But the community is so much more than that.  Sure you could pop in when new games are released, see what they’re like, and then pop out.  But for those viewers/gamers/streamers that want to be part of something bigger, you could always help by interacting too.  New streamers and small channels can be just as much fun as large ones…sometimes even more so.  How?  There’s much more interaction between viewer/streamer because less people are watching.  I’m certainly not telling you to avoid the large streams, but have you ever checked smaller ones in your spare time…say when none of your favorite people are on?  And this is very important for new streamers: If you’re a new streamer that is lucky enough to have a handful of regulars in your channel, what better way to give back to the community than by stopping by smaller streams yourself?

I certainly don’t want to tell anyone how to Twitch.  So let me tell you how I Twitch.  I get my dose of large streams when I can, but the real heart of Twitch, for me, is finding the up-and-comers: excellent streamers that either just started or haven’t had the luck to grow big yet.  Why?  Well, if you’re just starting to stream, making friends in the same business couldn’t hurt.  It’s something called Networking (having a bunch of streamers that support each other’s streams by popping in chat, interacting, and helping moderate).  And who knows…maybe your initial plan was to Network, but what you found instead are some genuine nice streamers that will later become very good friends.  So if you have the extra time and no one you currently love is streaming…why not stop by a smaller stream?  And if the content is good, you can simply make that streamer’s day by breaking the silence and typing one tiny little word: Hi.

twitch.tv/hankbananas  Gaming with a hint of sarcasm.

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