Thursday, April 18, 2019

Your Twitch Channel Needs an Elevator Pitch




I've seen it so many times. I'm watching a Twitch streamer who has no difficulty talking to chat or idly discussing the game they're playing, but when it comes time to actually introduce their channel they simply can't communicate effectively. One of the biggest stumbling blocks for new streamers without on-camera hosting experience is their ability to tell people in chat about their own show.

Old school games knew how to keep the gameplay simple.
You should do the same with your channel description.
Don't underestimate how important it is to consistently tell your viewers basic information about your channel. We'll get into the many benefits throughout this entry, but one big plus is that a spoken introduction helps entice new viewers to follow. Someone watching your stream for the first time knows nothing about your channel or what makes it unique, and they won't have as much patience with you as your regular viewers. Twitch streams are long- you may not be constantly doing something they're interested in seeing, or that represents what your channel is usually like. New viewers can use that intro to make an informed decision about whether or not they should follow. You should be able to explain what your channel is about, its top-tier critical rules, and any other important info that chatters need to know within a short, concise soundbite. Simply put, your Twitch channel needs an elevator pitch.


➣ THE RAMBLING INTRO


Have you ever been there for the first moments of a small Twitch streamer's show? It may have sounded something like this:

Hmmmmm... uh, yup. Looks like we might be.......... yes we are LIVE! Alright guys, hey, sorry I haven't been around for a while, my- wait, did we? Nope we're still live. Ok well, hey. Hi. How's it going, guys? I'm SmallStreamer83 and this is a channel about- oh, well what isn't it about, really? I play so many games, I play Fortnite, and I play Madden, and I do Grim Fandango speedruns. Well, I haven't done a Grim Fandango speedrun in a while actually, since my computer flipped out, but that's beside the point. Where was I? Oh, yes my channel is called SmallStreamer83 and today I'm going to be playing a game that I've really been looking forward to so much. You may know it, you may not. It's a game we've been looking- HEY what's up PersonInChat79? I haven't seen you in a while, welcome back to the stream! I hope you're doing well. Ok, let's get to it, let's play the game! 

Communication is key.
There are a few things wrong with this introduction: It's unclear, it rambles, it goes off on tangents and is sidetracked by chat, it doesn't put the most important things first, and it doesn't have a decisive beginning or end. But on a base level, it's just hard to follow. You get almost no clear information from the entire introduction, despite it taking a decent amount of time to actually say.

You may think having a 'polished intro' would be too stiff or impersonal. It is a trade-off to have a mostly pre-prepared introduction, but you're gaining much more than you're losing. You may be saying the same lines over and over across multiple streams, but you're still able to infuse emotion and personality into it. Plus, when you can intro your channel without thinking about it, you wouldn't believe how much mental energy is freed up to make the stream itself more entertaining. On top of all of this, you'll have a recognizable 'hook' to your stream that people can latch onto. It's like hearing the 'Scrubs' theme song every time you watch an episode. Reliable and entertaining refrains build brand loyalty!

Please note that while I used the beginning of someone's stream as an example, you should be introducing your show multiple times throughout- the beginning, after bathroom breaks, when raids come in, when someone follows, and at the end. Because new streamers have a hard time introducing their channels in the first place, they typically opt to almost never reintroduce during the show. Don't fall into this trap- it'll decimate your ability to grow. You should be introducing your channel as often as you can, especially if you don't have a following yet. This makes it all the more important to know exactly what you're going to say- you should have an elevator pitch prepared beforehand.


➣ THE INVERTED PYRAMID


So how do you create the perfect channel introduction? The first step should be easy, because if you've been following along with the previous entries, you should have the major ingredient already prepared. In the entry 'If You Can't Describe Your Channel, Who Can?' we narrowed your Twitch channel down to its bare essentials and then sprinkled in the things that set you apart from the crowd. Introducing your channel on stream is a perfect time to use that description you worked hard to create.

Spider-Man is a journalist by day, so he could tell you
about the Inverted Pyramid as well. But I couldn't
get him to sit down for an interview.
What else do you want people to know when joining your stream? An activity like song requests, map voting, chat minigames, or viewer challenges? A cardinal rule tied to your brand identity, like not backseating or spoiling games, explaining how to join you in a Fortnite match, or outlining the limits of your chat's language restrictions? Something you're working towards, like a follower, donation or subscriber goal? A community feature you're trying to grow, like a Discord, Twitter or Instagram page? Pick only the ones that are critically important to you. For me it's the channel description, spoiler rules, games list and follower goal. If you still have lots to choose from, try narrowing it down to one item from each of these categories. Then, order them by using the Inverted Pyramid.

The 'Inverted Pyramid' is a concept used in journalism to make sure the most important things get across first. If you're writing a news article, you want to make sure that someone who reads the first sentence at least gets the broadest idea of what happened, then the information can get slowly less important from there. The same applies when telling viewers about your stream on Twitch. You should begin your introduction with the most important thing- usually your channel's name and what it's about. Then you move down the list of importance from there. This way, you know that anyone who hears any part of your introduction will get as much information as they could ever have gotten in that amount of time.

Try to list out the essential items you'd want someone to know about your own channel, in order from most to least important. Then craft that into your own channel introduction.


➣ MAINTAINING DISCIPLINE


Now that you have an ordering system for what to talk about, it's time to talk about you. Watch how you introduced your show during your most recent stream. How did you present yourself? Did you exude confidence? If not, there are a few changes that can go a long way.

It takes discipline to host a stream effectively. Not as
much as running a city, but it definitely takes
discipline.
Practice. You may have a lot of things you want to mention in your introduction. Practice to yourself at full volume while you're NOT streaming. It's important not to mumble this under your breath, but instead project at your normal on-stream speaking voice, so you get used to exactly how it feels to say on a real stream. When I'm trying to work something into my intro, I'll say it to myself dozens of times before doing so on camera. You could also try trimming down your intro if it's too hard to remember. Shorter is always better, after all.

One thing I do that may sound backwards is never respond to chat, or even glance at it, during any part of my introduction. It sounds cold on paper, but in reality it just gives everyone a moment to check in and say hi to their fellow chatters. No one has ever complained about me not reading their comments in these moments, because 1) I can get through the intro so quickly and 2) In all other moments it's clear that I engage with chat as actively as possible. Not being distracted during my intro prevents me from going on tangents and ultimately failing to get my channel's message across.

Answering chat messages mid-intro is actually dangerous too- it can re-frame your information in a bad light. If you say your channel's name and description, then say hi to a new viewer who joined chat, then continue by calling out your follower goal, that person will likely think you're talking directly to them about the follower goal rather than continuing a larger introduction you were already doing previously. It's an example where your attempt at engagement can severely backfire. I've seen several streamers get tongue tied trying to back out of an accidental situation like this.

You don't have to be as strict as I am with my intros, but make sure you have a plan of some kind. Don't waste mental energy or stream time always coming up with how to describe your channel on the spot. Have it already thought out, be able to communicate clearly, and then spend that excess energy putting on a good show! Without discipline and efficient communication, your channel's introduction could be ten minutes long, while still ultimately telling the viewer nothing at all. Chat with people, banter about games, tell anecdotes about your life, and freestyle AFTER your channel introduction, not during. For an intro, just say the important things about your channel as quickly and effectively as possible. When your Twitch channel has an elevator pitch, you can attract new people more quickly, strengthen your existing community, and free yourself up to be a better host. Who wouldn't want that?

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