I’ve also been in streams where I’m not there for five minutes and I already feel annoyed by how much the streamer is talking. In today’s blog, I hope to point you in the right direction of creating a stream that encourages people to engage with you as a streamer, but never makes viewers feel bad if they don’t.
I think one of the biggest problems new streamers run into is thinking the more you talk the better your stream will be. I’ve seen quite a few people say that you need to talk a lot when you start streaming. I would say that is 100% wrong. I’ve been to so many small streams where the streamer was just talking, and talking, and talking. It was just a lot of mumbo jumbo that made no sense and no one in the chat actually talked back to them. It added nothing to the stream and I moved on and went somewhere else.
Engagement is a two way street. This means that your chat is interested in what you’re saying and they are responding to what you’re saying and are actively pushing the conversation along. When I come into the stream and notice that the streamer is actively involved in the discussion of the chat and not overly forcing a conversation, it makes me want to stay and get involved. People will come back to streams that they enjoyed themselves in and felt valued. Keeping your chat engaged is not an easy skill, and it’s one that takes a lot of time. So don’t feel discouraged if it’s something that you’re not good at right now. The goal here is to help you get to the point.
If you’re just getting into streaming there’s a good chance you won’t have many viewers, if any at all. So how do you create that engagement if you’re literally talking to no one? If you were watching someone play a game you had never seen before, what are the things you’d be interested in as a viewer? These are the kind of topics you want to focus on when playing through a game. Don’t overreact or act differently, just be yourself and talk about your thoughts on a certain portion of a game. When someone does end up stumbling upon your stream, you’ll naturally be creating the opportunity for engagement. Practice it when you have no viewers and you’ll be ready when you have more.
Depending on what you stream, the types of topics pertaining to the game are going to be different. If you’re playing any sort of competitive game focus on what your thought process was when making decisions. If you’re speed running, treat your runs like a marathon run and commentate the run as if no one had seen it before. If you’re a variety streamer playing the game for the first time, talk about what you enjoy/don’t enjoy about the game. These are all topics that don’t technically require someone to be in the chat, but at the same time create opportunities for people to ask questions or get involved. As your chat gets bigger, you’ll have more leeway to bring up other topics that don’t have to be game related.
You don't always have to talk about video games! I’m going to reveal to you my biggest secret in breaking the ice in my chat if I notice it’s slowing down or going in a direction that I don’t want it to. Food. That’s right, talking about food is literally the easiest way to get your chat involved. I’ve had some of my best stream moments when I asked questions about what my chat’s opinions were on a certain type of food. Why food though? Literally everyone eats (at least I hope so.) It’s one of the few common denominators when it comes to the people in your stream. Sports, Music, certain types of videogames, books, etc. are all topics that some people won’t care about. With food, everyone has some interest. You’re also very unlikely to really offend someone with your opinions on food. :^) (I mean seriously, who actually likes Kit Kat bars more than Butterfingers?)
· Music – This is the danger zone. The moment you start talking about music you like is the moment you’re begging for people to get mad at you. Every time I started talking about music on my stream, my chat has turned into “That band sucks, this band is sooooo much better.” This leads to other viewers getting mad about other viewers’ opinions. Don’t do it, no matter how tempting it is, try to avoid this.
· Politics + Religion – This one is pretty obvious, but no matter what you think, you’re not going to convince people in your chat regarding any issues. All you’re going to do is piss people off.
· Bad Mouthing Other Streamers – I could dedicate a whole blog to this topic (I will). It’s not worth it no matter how right you are about said streamer. It will backfire on you in the long run for so many reasons. I come to watch you play video games, not watch drama unfold.
· Video Game Debates – This one is tricky. On one hand, it sparks a lot of good discussion about games in a certain genre. On the other hand, people will get mad and tell others why their game choices suck. It’s up to you on how you want to approach it, just know that it’s easy for this one to turn nasty really quick.
My last recommendation would be to realize when a topic has died and move on. There’s only so many times your chat can laugh at that terrible pun you've used the past 5 minutes, or tell you what their favorite burger is. Timing is key. The best streamers know how to jump from one topic to the next without it being awkward. If I see a conversation start to get heated or go in a direction that would cause people to get mad, I immediately try to change the subject. Instead of yelling at people for acting like idiots in your chat, simply change the subject and let the chat move to a different topic. You’ll avoid coming across as a jerk, and you’ll effectively stop any drama that may have happened.
Remember, when you create a conversation that encourages a user to to get involved and interact with you, you're creating an opportunity for them to continue to come back and back.
I have a lot more thoughts on Conversations + Ways to engage chat that I’ll talk about in a future blog, but today’s thoughts should point you in the right direction!
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