Friday, October 25, 2019

How to Speak Better on Stream

Do you ever have problems speaking on your streams? It's okay to admit it. I've never met someone who is completely comfortable talking on camera, myself included. Even the ones who seem confident have only gotten to that point because they spent hundreds of hours refining their craft. If you're starting out with livestreaming, it's almost guaranteed that you will be pretty awkward when trying to talk on your shows. Plus, streamers of all skill levels can fall into certain traps, painting themselves into a corner or saying the wrong things. In my experience, most of the problems streamers have with speaking on camera can be broken down into two major categories: talking too quickly, or being too afraid to talk at all. Both of these are dangerous, and both can hurt your overall stream quality. Whether you suffer from one or both of these afflictions, I'm going to give you my own strategies for breaking free from their grip.


When many streamers get nervous, they'll try to overcompensate by talking very quickly on their shows. This might happen when they're feeling self-conscious about doing badly in a game, if they want to seem more professional in general, or if they're afraid that slowing their pace will 'drop the ball' entertainment-wise, causing viewers to lose interest. It's very dangerous to conduct your streams this way, however. You might say something you'll regret, and wish you could take it back. You might accidentally insult someone in your chat, or spoil the newest movie or game. You might even have words put into your mouth.

Don't rush through things, or something might
come by and spoil your fun
It might sound far-fetched, but a common problem for newer streamers is being so eager to read chat that they accidentally let manipulative chatters say hurtful or offensive messages through them. Maybe it's a slur written in such a way that it looks inoffensive until you read it out loud, or maybe it's a long-winded story with spoilers hidden somewhere in the center. Maybe the person brings up a taboo topic for your streams, without even knowing they were breaking the rules. Whichever subject, you definitely don't want to go so fast that you can't screen the things you're saying on stream. For info on preventing the kinds of comments you'd rather not read, see the entry Setting Limits For Your Streams.

Always speak 30% slower than your mind is able to think. It's important to able to process thoughts further ahead than whatever you're currently saying. This sounds like simple no-brainer stuff, but it can be very difficult in the moment. I know, because I used to fall into this category a lot and I've seen it happen to many other streamers as well. You get halfway into reading a toxic comment, and have to shamefully change the subject. Get better at quickly and silently reading chat messages to yourself, before you read them on stream. It'll help you stay in control of what you're saying on your show.


The other most common problem for streamers is shyness on camera. For this, it's useful to take a different approach. When you're afraid to speak on your shows, it's usually because you're thinking too much about what you might say, and how it might come across. If you generally have a problem saying anything at all on your streams, upgrade your ability to screen your thoughts less.

Sometimes you just have to jump right in
One thing that helps me when I'm in my own head is to use the 'leap without looking' approach. While I strongly advise against this strategy when it comes to reading chat, it's extremely useful when you're speaking from your own mind. Simply start saying something- anything- that comes to your head. Once the words are out there, your mind will work harder to try and construct the rest of the sentence. It's a natural human response not to want to leave a conversation dangling, so by forcing out the first part of your thought, you'll start coming up with more things to say overall.

One example when I'm playing story-based games would be,"What do you think this character would do if [blank]?" This could be filled with anything, but I usually use it to connect characters and ideas from different game playthroughs of ours. "What do you think Geralt from The Witcher would do if he was in the Yakuza games?" From there, it sparks all kinds of ideas about further topics. Which card games he'd play, what yakuza gang he'd join, what his look would be. It's a great way to start conversations with chat, but even if no one responds there are all sorts of topics to ponder out loud, all of which provide entertainment value to your audience. People want to know what you're thinking, and this technique can help to remove your self-imposed filter.


Another great way for anyone who has trouble maintaining a flow of commentary on their streams is to do what I call 'connecting the dots.' Simply take any subject happening in the game or chat and add the phrase 'That reminds me' to the end of it. This is especially useful when you feel your talking points starting to dry up. "Speaking of the waffles vs. pancakes debate, that reminds me of a fantastic breakfast place I discovered the other day." "On the subject of movie musicals, that reminds me- hey [person in chat] how did your dance recital go this past weekend?" "Oh man, this game crashing reminds me of when I first started streaming, before I understood how PCs worked." Whether it's a chat discussion leading into a personal story, a story prompting a discussion, a stream moment leading to a story, or any other combination, using connective language like this makes everything on your show feel more comprehensive. Having multiple threads in what you're talking about will keep people interested in what you're saying.

Speaking on stream is one of the largest sticking points for so many new streamers because it's difficult to compare their performance to anything else. Any other streamer they might watch has likely been doing it longer, and therefore sounds so much more confident and composed on camera. This makes these new streamers too embarrassed to watch their own shows, for fear of cringing at their blunders. Eventually it can lead to not wanting to stream at all. But really all you need to do is keep practicing. If you're too fast or too slow, do your best to meet in the middle of the scale first. Before long, you'll be talking with ease!

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