Streaming First Impressions

Picture this; your favorite streamers aren’t online so you’re browsing new channels to keep you occupied. You come across a channel that looks interesting and is not large, but still fairly populated.

In the channel you see a fairly pixelated stream, the streamer isn’t talking at all, and there are so many overlays that you can barely see anything going on.

What do you do? You hit back right away.

I’m sure many of us have done this before and if you want to start getting over that early beginner’s hump, work you put into your stream pays off. I’m sure many people can agree that first impressions can make a big difference in how you view someone once you meet them and things aren’t much different when talking in terms of streaming. First impressions are incredibly important because they set a certain tone for new viewers coming into your channel. Capture their attention from the start, then earn future visits afterwards.

In this article, I’ll go over some main areas in which you should maybe re-examine on your own channel to have a better first impression on people 🙂

Talk, talk, and talk some more!

This is one thing you’ll hear from many streamers and it holds true! It’s probably the first thing you can start doing that can make a large difference. Even if there’s no one in chat or no one’s really talking, just keep chatting away and it will make you more inviting to people coming in. It also keeps your mind busy so you’re not focusing on that pesky viewer count (which you should hide while streaming). By having a topic of conversation already going when people are coming into the channel it’s easier for them to ease into a possible conversation, whereas if you are just sitting there and just playing the game they might be a bit more anxious to jump in and chat especially if no one else is talking. It’s hard to break the ice if you’re new to a channel! What to talk about? Talk about what you’re doing in the game, explain everything out loud, share your thoughts on the game, etc.

For more in-depth guides on the subject, check out my guide on improving speech and this guide on how to avoid dead air.

Graphics/Overlays

This is a bit of a tough subject to talk about. Mainly because it involves personal taste and also sometimes spending some $$$.

I want to start by saying that you can still be fine with not using any graphics/overlays. It’s still possible to be successful without using them but it will be tougher to grab people’s attention. Overlays and graphics show viewers your serious about streaming and also a sense of professionalism with your channel. Again, I want to reiterate, I’m not saying people WITHOUT this stuff have bad channels. I’m just saying these kinds of things will catch people’s eyes and this is all about first impressions. It’s a luxury thing and while it’s not something you may NEED, having it will (more often than not) improve your channel. I’ve had people come into my channel and compliment me on my graphics! Not only does it start a conversation, it shows interest in your channel in some way 🙂

If you’re like me, and are willing to pay some money, find a graphics designer that’s right for you. Many have different styles with their graphics and overlays and you want to make sure, if you’re purchasing them that you’re not spending money on something you’re not happy with.

The benefit of purchasing your overlays is you get to have something made unique to your channel and also be able to have it customized the way YOU want it. This is why I say it’s a luxury thing, since not everyone has the funds to do so. If you want to up your stream quality, this is a good place to start!

Sound/Video Quality

If I come into a stream and hear incredibly disproportioned sound or extremely artifacted/pixelated quality. it’s another thing that might make me back out of the stream quicker than normal. Again, it’s a matter of professionalism and even with poor setups or lower bitrate, you can still put in work to get the most out of your streaming!

If you’re streaming something you’ve never streamed before PLEASE test test test. Then shut down OBS, open it back up again, and test again. I actually recommend making a new Twitch account where you can test broadcasts and view them how they would look on the website if you were a viewer yourself. Another way you can test is enable Local Recording on OBS since the output file is going to be similar to what people see when they view your stream although I’m not sure how similar it is to live viewing/past broadcasts. You can have multiple profiles in OBS to have different settings for different accounts or different setups for the same profile. Make sure to keep one just at default settings so you have a fail safe to go back to if you end up messing with settings that screw up your whole stream.

Sound

If you have headphones, test your sound playback levels with them and also speakers. If you have follower/donation sounds, they may sound fine with speakers but end up deafening your headphone users. You want to make sure there’s a good balance. Regarding microphones, I highly recommend checking this mic guide out . It goes over some popular mics as well as helps set you up with a noise gate which GREATLY helps in cutting out background noise/keyboard clicks and is a great thing to have if you’re not using a headset while streaming. I should mention there is no guide on Headset mics as they will pretty much always have less quality than a stand-alone/USB mic. I used to use a headset mic and one thing to mention is that there is a lot of “Popping” and if you are going to use it make sure the mic is not too close to your mouth

(My Blue Snowball is not listed in the Mic Guide but I’ve done a review of it here as it is a cheaper alternative to the mics listed in the guide)

Video

This one is a bit tougher to guide through since it differs drastically between streamer to streamer. Many have different ISP’s, computer set-ups, bandwidth restrictions, etc. that this requires PLENTY more testing than the sound portion of your stream. One of the main things I can tell you right off the bat is KNOW YOUR LIMITS. No one likes watching a potato quality stream so if you’re going to stream something, make sure you can stream it to a relatively good quality. It sucks restricting yourself but if you don’t have it, you don’t have it. I have a poor internet connection (25down/2up) but I still have pretty good quality with the majority of games I stream and I make sure to test before every new game I stream since not every game is going to require the same settings throughout.

Not getting the quality you want and not sure why? Here are some possible reasons:

– Rule of thumb is high paced action games that have a lot of movement (ex. Call of Duty) will always require more bandwidth than strategy games, or games that are less dynamic (ex. Hearthstone). In addition, multiplayer/online games will further that bitrate requirement as you need more room for spikes in your connection due to the online game taking up more of your bandwidth.

– Internet speed isn’t everything. Streaming takes a bunch of CPU power and your computer may be getting in the way of the quality you want even though your internet speed may be perfectly fine.

– On the other hand, internet connection is a huge factor. Another rule of thumb is for non-partners, 2000 bitrate at 720p and 30FPS is a sweet spot. A great place to start/be if you have the bandwidth available. You have to keep in mind the bitrate you stream at affects your viewers as well. Even if you have the ability to stream at for example, 6000+ bitrate, people with poor internet connections or mobile may have your stream buffer very frequently.

For a guide to video quality and a more in-depth explanation, check out this guide about upload speed and bitrate and start testing! Play around with your settings because what may work for others may not work for you and vice-versa.

Well that does it for my first article and I hope you learned something from it 🙂 Making that first impression is important and if you put in the work, you can be sure the quality of your stream will greatly increase!

 

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