Making our streams run without a hitch, or as close to that point as possible, is a goal we all aspire to. It doesn't matter how perfect a broadcast is overall- one tiny mistake at the beginning can sometimes throw our confidence for the entire rest of the show. In the previous entry, Creating a Pre-Stream Checklist, I detailed the tool I've found most useful in preventing mistakes from cropping up on my own broadcasts. By laying out every step involved in starting a stream, and then following that script to the letter every time I'm about to go live, I've been able to stream without incident for the past 1,000+ broadcasts. But as I mentioned in that entry, it's not a one-and-done solution. Things will need to be adjusted and fine-tuned, and as your stream evolves, the pre-stream checklist will need to evolve with it. In this entry I'll help you to perfect your pre-stream checklist.
First, when something goes wrong on your shows, keep in mind the basic troubleshooting steps I laid out in that previously mentioned entry. Essentially, there are three main pre-stream checklist oversights: either your list isn't complete enough, you're not sticking to the list well enough, or there might be a unique situation at play. Even if your problem falls into that third category, you may not have been able to predict it, but you're still responsible for it. Don't start thinking that any problems are outside your realm of control. If something causes you issues on your show, one way or another it can be dealt with. Sometimes you just need to think outside the box.
➢ THE CHECKLIST IN PRACTICE
I have two quick examples of how a pre-stream checklist helped me with very specific issues. You probably won't have the same issues in the same way, nor will the exact solution likely work for you, but try to understand the underlying reasoning that went into solving them. Then use that mindset to help customize your own list.
☑ EXPECTING THE UNEXPECTED
|Isaac Clarke deals with the unexpected every few minutes.|
☑ THE RIGHT ORDER
And then of course there's the classic streamer mistake- forgetting your microphone. I have a lavalier mic that attaches to the shirt collar. This means that if I forget to clip it on before a show, I'll still be audible but I'll just sound quieter, like I'm far away. From the audience's perspective in this scenario, I only 'sound different,' and they typically won't point it out as a problem because it's not objectively wrong. To them it could simple be a personal choice- maybe I lowered my microphone volume for some reason. People typically don't want to cry wolf about stream problems- most will only mention something to the streamer if there's no chance it's supposed to be that way. And sure enough, every three months or so I'd go for an entire stream without the mic attached- a very embarrassing mistake. It was especially frustrating because by that time I was already following a pre-stream checklist I had made, but was still forgetting this step every once in a while. How could this be? Instead of simply shrugging and being thankful that the problem didn't occur more frequently, I took it upon myself to revise the checklist once again. Maybe something was too loose, and it only needed a little bit of tightening to prevent me from making that mistake in the future.
|Sometimes the checklist just needs piecing together|
like a puzzle.
Of course on paper, this should have been foolproof. This portion only involved three steps- how could I forget them? What I realized was that these steps would work when there was no outside stress or interference, but what if someone distracted me right after pressing the countdown button, or if I needed to respond to something in chat during that moment, or if I had something heavy on my mind? I found that it was those instances when I'd forget to execute the final three steps correctly, and there was no failsafe between clipping on the mic and appearing on-air where I could catch my mistake. Once I realized this, all it took to solve my problem was a simple reorganization. I switched the order so that I had to have my mic clipped on before pressing the countdown button. This created a built-in moment to check myself: if I was starting that countdown, I would always reach for my shirt collar and make sure that the mic was there. If the mic wasn't clipped, the countdown couldn't start. And in finding a way to reliably check myself earlier in the process, I've prevented making that mistake for the past year and counting.
➢ FIND YOUR WEAK POINTS
Once again, my mistakes and solutions aren't going to translate 1:1 to whatever you're experiencing on your own shows. But in this entry I showed you two ways in which adjusting my pre-stream checklist has helped me in a very tangible way with my own personal streaming issues. All you need to do is identify whatever is causing you the same kind of grief on your shows- once you identify the problem, you'll be able to start zeroing in on a solution. As long as you stay inquisitive and don't resign your problems to the cruel Twitch gods, you too can perfect your pre-stream checklist.