Streaming can be an overwhelming thing. With things like overlays, stream settings, and game choice to worry about, new streamers may overlook one of the most important things to learn which is the ability to speak properly. Speech is not discussed very often in the world of streaming which surprises me considering it makes up the majority of what you do as a streamer.
I’m going to break down my top tips and tricks that have helped me improve my speaking skills over the years I have been creating content on the internet. Not only will these help you in the world of streaming, but I find they are all quite useful for situations in the real world. Some people naturally have good speaking skills; I was definitely not one of those people. Public speaking and conversing was never easy for me but I have improved over the years. It’s important to keep in mind that improving your speech is a process and is not something that comes easily or quickly for most people. Additionally for most new streamers, it’s not just the ability to speak well that needs to be learned as a streamer; it’s the ability to do it by yourself and to yourself for hours on end.
Improving your Speech and Mastering the Monologue
With this definition in mind, it is understandable to view speaking on your stream as a monologue. Especially when you are a new streamer, the majority of your time will be spent talking alone. Even though you may not be speaking directly to anyone, it is important to act as if you are having a conversation.
If you are like me and you had YouTube experience before starting on Twitch or another streaming site, this area of speaking will come a bit more naturally to you. This is because the act of doing a “Let’s Play” or commentating over a video game is almost exactly how you should be while streaming. However, if you are brand new to content creation, the act of speaking to an empty room can be quite awkward. I’ve seen many new streamers who mention they do lots of public speaking and are confident out in the real world but once they start streaming, it feels unnatural to them.
The Makeup of a Public Speaker
First things first, it is important to recognize what makes someone a good speaker. While everyone is different, there are a couple of key components that show up in any good public speaker.
When you look at public speakers and entertainers, their confidence is probably one of the main things that you can notice. People are naturally drawn to others who are confident in themselves. When you’re confident you can project your voice more and are generally more dynamic (which ultimately can lead to being more entertaining on camera). Confidence is not something that can be taught and everyone will gain confidence at different speeds. That being said, here are some tips and tricks to help build up that confidence:
- Stay Energized – Being full of energy means you’re able to stay “online” for longer! Everyone handles hunger differently but for me, I get quiet and have trouble juggling both chat and gameplay. If you’re someone like me who prefers not to eat on stream, make sure to get a good meal in you beforehand. Otherwise, keep some healthy snacks on hand for those longer streams!
- Smile! – It’s been proven that smiling can actually make you happy. Just try it! Smile while thinking positive thoughts and you’ll find yourself feeling happier. This will naturally increase your self-esteem and confidence. It is no secret that people who smile tend to be seen as more confident and more attractive (oh my). I don’t stream with a webcam anymore but I still use the smile trick to perk myself up during low times.
- Log your wins – Whether you got raided by a big time streamer or just got your first 10 followers; log your wins! As streamers, there are many low days just as there are many high ones. It is a good habit starting out to log your successes no matter how small they may seem. Having them physically written down somewhere can help boost your spirits if you need to look back on how far you’ve come. Streamers new and old struggle with the viewer/follower count. Remember your wins.
- Posture – Practicing good posture is not only beneficial for boosting your confidence but it is a healthy habit to get into (Visit this page for a really great and extensive guide on posture). While being healthy it also engages your mind more. Ever feel more relaxed while leaning back? Being comfortable is important but you can engage yourself more to concentrate on the stream when you’re sitting upright.
Enunciation is the act of pronouncing words clearly and accurately. When trying to speak to an empty room it doesn’t matter if you can keep talking 24/7. If people can’t understand you, they’re not going to want to stick around to decipher your speech. I used to be quite the mumbler but ever since I started creating content on the internet it has vastly improved. Plenty of vocal exercises for this on Google as well as further down this guide I’ll explain some ways you can practice. First, here are some methods to work on your enunciation:
- Listen to yourself – Enabling VoDs on your streams is a great way to look back and self-critique yourself. Not only will you be able to work out any audio problems you might have but you will be able to hear yourself how others hear you. We all sound different in our head than off a recording. While you might think you’re being clear, you could be mumbling or speaking too quickly. For more proper practice you can record yourself reading things like short stories or other word passages to listen back on.
- Tongue Twisters – Tongue Twisters are not only fun to do, but a great way to practice proper enunciation. It trains your mouth to transition properly to other words which can help mumbling issues. Additionally, they can be a good warm up if you are maybe streaming first thing in the morning!
- Slow down + Clarity – Nervousness and excitement are common culprits of increased speech speed. Increased speech speed can lead to not speaking clearly. As mentioned in point 1, while you may think you are speaking at a proper speed, it could be different for your viewers. Recognizing you may have a speed problem is important and will allow you to properly adjust by really paying attention to what you’re saying. Tongue Twisters will help with this but starting off it is important to be consciously slowing down your speech and work on properly enunciating each word that comes out of your mouth. I’m not saying you need to speak like you’re in slow motion but focus on clarity and speed will follow.
- Loudness + Mic Tests – If you are not used to speaking on stream or during a Let’s Play, you are likely going to be speaking quieter than you think. Mumbling is another thing nervousness can cause. Once you start to slow down and truly think about what you are saying, you will be able to speak louder and more clearly. Looking back on recordings I’ve done years ago I can tell how quiet my commentary was compared to what it is now. That is largely due to confidence but that will come naturally. During the beginning, you may have to speak louder than you think to communicate to your audience properly. Additionally, make sure to test your microphone levels! Test before every new game you stream so you know just the proper ratio of game sound to your mic-sound. It won’t matter if you are speaking perfectly if your mic levels are too high/low.
Content Creation Practice
Improving your speaking ability is all about experience. Content creation is a great way to build a portfolio of work as well as building skills that work into streaming. Here are some ways to practice the things I mentioned earlier.
- Let’s Plays – Solo commentating a video game is the best practice for new streamers. Doing Let’s Plays on YouTube is where I got comfortable speaking to an empty room and I can say one hundred percent that it helped me when I started streaming. It forces you to keep your commentary up to a truly empty room which is where many new streamers will start. Not only is it great practice but YouTube is another great outlet to build your online portfolio and have something to direct your audience to when you’re offline.
- Podcasts – Podcasts are another way to create more online content but are much more difficult than Let’s Plays. With podcasts, you have no visual aid to commentate over but it forces you to improve your commentary even more. Learning how to connect thoughts together clearly and communicate them verbally is important not just for streaming but for speaking in general. Try to have a focal discussion point for each podcast and jot down some stuff beforehand so you’re not coming up with everything on the spot. Also don’t be afraid to just shoot for 15-20 minutes. Podcasts don’t have to be hours in length!
- Voice acting – If you’re a fan of voice acting like me, it can be a great way to practice speaking. Behind the Voice Actors and Casting Call Club where you can audition for amateur (and sometimes professional) fandubs, audiobooks, and more. This one won’t be for everyone but it can teach some important things that can relate to streaming:
- Avoiding monotonous speech is a good habit to get into. While monotone doesn’t always mean boring, emoting properly during a stream can mean you appear more dynamic which is going to naturally be more entertaining for viewers.
- Auditioning for things can offer the opportunity for critique and feedback from other people. It’s good to learn how to take feedback and also lets you know what others might think of your speaking skills.
In the Moment
When speaking on your own, it will first be difficult to figure out what to talk about while you stream/record. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you out:
- Find your strengths – Everyone has something they’re very passionate or knowledgeable about that they could talk about for hours on end. Maybe you are great at telling stories, or maybe you have great technical skill in the game you’re playing. Either way, focus on those strong points of speech and it will be easier than trying to commentate on things outside your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to sticky down topics to your monitor either!
- Assume the room is full – It’s good practice to always pretend someone is watching. This will affect your commentary and to be honest, there will likely be many times people come in and out of your stream without you realizing it! Being in the middle of a thought or speech will be much more captivating to new viewers coming in as opposed to just sitting there playing your game in silence. Even once you start building a community, don’t worry if no one’s chatting. Some people just enjoy lurking and watching the stream. I’ve had 30+ viewer streams where chat slowed to a crawl!
- Answer your own questions/The 5 Ws – Using “Who? What? When? Where? Why?” gives your thoughts a focal point and can jump start some discussion for yourself. The “Why” can be especially important since a large portion of commentating over video games is just explaining “Why” you are doing certain things in-game.
Being a streamer does not come easily to everyone. Everything I mentioned above are things that I have done to help my public speaking and it took almost a year of creating content before I felt comfortable with myself. Even something as simple as speaking can require hours upon hours of practice to get good at. Everyone will level up their abilities at different speeds and will do so in different ways. If you feel you aren’t getting anywhere; don’t worry. Keep at it and you will become a confident and well-spoken content creator in no time!