Friday, January 31, 2020

How to Make Your Camera Look Better

What's one piece of equipment most streamers think about above all the others? The camera. The reason is simple: people don't want to look bad in front of everyone who might be watching. Many of us put a lot into our appearances just to go about our normal days, and that means we're even more critical about how we show ourselves on a stream. This causes many of us spring for a better camera, in the hopes that it'll magically make us look better on our shows.

Of course, once we've unboxed our shiny new toys, we realize a camera can do very little to change our appearances. But isn't there anything you can do to optimize the way your facecam looks on stream? You'll be glad to hear that there is. And you'll be gladder to hear that it won't cost you a cent. As long as you keep in mind the two critical factors of composition and lighting, your stream camera will always look great. In this entry, I'll teach you to wield these two powerful techniques, as well as which pitfalls to avoid. You won't be a master cinematographer by the end, but you'll know enough to make a good looking Twitch stream.

Please be aware though, especially if you've never been with The Twitch Playbook before and you skipped to this entry first: EXPERIENCE is always more valuable than a perfect looking stream. If you haven't done at least a dozen combined hours of broadcasts on your channel already, put this entry down and start streaming right now. You can come back to employ these optimizations later. If you still don't think you're ready to stream, see the entry Start Your Twitch Channel with No Money. This entry is meant for those who are already consistent at streaming and want to optimize their shows- if you haven't streamed yet, doing these tweaks will be just another procrastination. There's no excuse not to start your journey today.


Think of an image of any kind- whether it's the Mona Lisa, a family photo, or a scene from your favorite movie. How did the creator decide where the subjects, props and background elements should fit within the frame? This comes down to a field of study called composition, which rules over every visual art, whether the frame in that art be a canvas, a photo, a movie screen, or in our cases, a Twitch stream's facecam. Most of what makes a good photo or movie shot is its composition, and utilizing this correctly can help you make your stream's camera look much better. There are many rules to creating artful composition which I learned twice over by studying both fine arts and film, but for our purposes you can throw most of those out the window. As far as Twitch streams are concerned, you don't really need artful composition. All you really need to think about is your camera height, and how big your face is within the frame.

You want to look like Drake in this scene, not Sully.
First, you want your camera to be level with your face, or only slightly above. Do not place the camera below your face looking upwards, unless you want to look like a Universal movie monster from the 1930's. Upwards angles are unflattering- don't make people stare into your nostrils for your entire show. A camera that's level with your face or slightly above it and pointing down (such as one mounted on top of your computer monitor) is always preferable.

After understanding which angle to use, it's time to make your face look larger in frame. Don't forget- your facecam usually only takes up a small portion of the screen on a Twitch stream. Viewers will have a hard enough time seeing your face, as many of them will be on small laptop or phone screens. Don't make it even harder for them to empathize with your reactions by having your head be small within that window- you want your face to be as large as possible within your camera shot. This can be most easily achieved by placing the camera closer to your face. It doesn't matter if you don't have a tripod or surface where you can place it- get creative! Stack books, duct tape it to something sturdy, it doesn't matter how you do it as long as it works. If you simply can't get the camera any closer, you still have one option: cropping. Most stream software will allow you to crop your camera's frame, meaning you're able to drag the edges inwards to eliminate wasted space. So simply decide where you'll be sitting, and cut away all the negative space areas around your head. Then you can enlarge that frame to the size you want for your facecam.


Sunken eyes is a good look for an
intimidating mob boss, but not for
your stream.
Once your camera is properly placed, you can start thinking about lighting. This is the other piece of the puzzle when creating a good looking camera shot for Twitch. Lighting is another incredibly complex and artistic discipline, but for our purposes there are really only three things to think about: placing lights, controlling the shadows, and keeping things comfortable during your shows.

Think about the amount of light in your room, and where it's coming from. It's likely that your bedroom, living room or any other room in your house is set up for living, but not for filming. Cameras don't see light the same way the human eye does, so you'll likely need to relocate your lights to make your shot work. The number one rule is to always make you, the subject, lighter than anything behind you. If you use a lamp in your room, it's likely to be somewhere near the back of the room, which might show up in your camera shot. You may have a window visible behind you. Any source of light behind you is going to make you backlit, meaning you'll look darker and the background will look lighter. Get rid of these light sources by turning off lights, moving standing lamps, or drawing the curtains, and make sure the majority of lights are near your face.

Don't place lights below your head
or you'll look like Boris Karloff.
Next, you want to control the shadows. If you have very bright lights installed overhead, or tall lamps right above your head, it'll create harsh downward shadows. Cinematographers call this 'The Godfather,' as it's the way they created that sunken, dead looking stare on Marlon Brando's character in the film of the same name. It won't look flattering on you. Similarly, don't use lights located below your face, as it'll cast your shadow upwards and make you look like a 1930's movie monster again. In Twitch streaming, we're not going for extreme lighting setups, instead favoring very mild and flat lighting. Use a lamp slightly taller than you are, located a few feet in front of you, to spread even light on your face. If you have access to two lights, place them at 45 degree angles from your face, one slightly farther away than the other. This will make it so you have a mild shadow on one side of your face, but not a harsh one that distorts your features.

Lastly, make sure whatever lighting setup you have is sustainable. If a naked bulb beaming into your eyes makes you look great, but it causes you to see spots every time you stream, that's no good. This is a crucial step, as it may require walking back your lighting ambitions slightly, in order to make your shows more enjoyable overall. Don't forget- the object here is to be able to do every stream like this. If you always associate streaming with uncomfortable lights blaring into your eyes, you'll eventually resent the act of streaming itself, and that'll be just another excuse for you to stop doing it altogether in the future. If your scene looks good but it hurts your eyes to sit in your computer chair, you need to find another way to make the scene look good.


You want people to see you at your best, and that means taking some basic steps to make your camera look good. If you keep these essentials about composition and lighting in mind, there's no reason you can't make your streams look that much better. And you'll be doing it without spending a dime! Always remember that the audience will only ever see you through a lens. So as long as you see yourself from their point of view, you can make your camera look a whole lot better!

Friday, January 24, 2020

The Cost of Doing Nothing

It's easy to get distracted. Not just when you're a Twitch streamer, of course, but in all aspects of life. There are so many ways in which time or energy can simply slip away, without us even knowing where it all went. Do you know how many times you check your phone per day? How about when your work gets interrupted by some idle task around the house? What about the amount of times per week or month that you go down the rabbit hole, researching some subject that isn't immediately relevant to your goals? Little pleasures like social media, tidying up, information binges, and countless other activities can be vastly therapeutic. But what happens when we have too many of these little pleasures? As I've outlined in previous entries, this clutter can cause us to accidentally push away our most important long-term plans.

But what if there was a way to quantify the exact moment that some small, insignificant task breaks the camel's back and stops us from doing what's really important? There's a very simple metric that every ultra-productive person is aware of, whether they have a name for it or not. Mastering this will further your efforts not only to find time to stream, but the mental energy and willingness to stream. You need to learn the cost of doing nothing. 


Let's say you have two hours on a given night, and you choose to go out and see a movie. What does this cost? Probably the price of gas, plus the price of the ticket, plus the price of popcorn or other concessions. But there's another hidden cost- one associated with what you chose not to do. Let's say you're a student, and you have an unfinished paper due tomorrow, which would have taken two hours to write. Since you spent that time on the movie, your choice didn't only cost money- it also cost you your grade.

Everything creates ripples.
This concept is called opportunity cost. In its most basic form, opportunity cost is a measurement used by economists to figure out how much money it costs to not do something. Most of us want to believe that our time is free- that if we aren't directly under a deadline to do something, we can do whatever we want. This is only partially true- we can do whatever we want, but our time is most certainly not free- we are paying for every moment.

The previous example about going to a movie vs doing homework is pretty easy for most of us to understand, because it's an equivalent exchange- trading this two-hour task for that one. But if you look deeper, things get a lot trickier. Tiny, seemingly unrelated things we do can topple massive ambitions, if we're not paying attention to their cost. Habitually scrolling through Instagram could cost you your streaming career, for example. This is trickier to explain, but think of it this way: Let's say a restaurant offers only two fixed options: a $2 bag of potato chips or a $30 steak. (we'll assume tax and tip are included, and don't think too hard why a restaurant sells bags of potato chips- just go with it). You have exactly $30 in your pocket. You're only a little hungry so you buy the $2 snack instead of the $30 steak. It's pretty clear that you can afford this. But when the food comes, you realize you're hungrier than you originally thought. There's a problem though: you now only have $28 left. Buying the $2 snack cost you the opportunity to also buy the $30 meal, even though the $2 snack was well within your price range at the time. So what do you do? You buy more $2 snacks to fill yourself up, but no matter how many bags of chips you eat, they won't be as nourishing as eating an actual meal.

Imagine scrolling through Instagram, binging on Netflix, aimlessly shopping, or anything else that doesn't accomplish your immediate goal as the snack, and your dream of Twitch streaming as the dinner. One indulgence won't kill your dream, but too many of these put together will. If you haven't started streaming yet, or if you've lapsed out of streaming for any reason at any time, you've probably already fallen victim to this, without even realizing. It's easy to waste time without thinking about what it really costs you, until it's too late.


It's clear that we need to measure the opportunity cost of the things we do. As I've mentioned in previous entries, even time that you're simply killing while at work or school shouldn't be wasted on low-value activities. Everything you do has a consequence, and your time is more valuable than you think.

The smallest idle tasks can topple your biggest
Our phones are major timekillers- social media, group chats, rummaging through cluttered email inboxes, these devices are packed with all sorts of things that sap our attention throughout the day. This can create a general lethargy by the time you arrive home, so you feel like you were busy all day, not because you did any work toward your goals, but because you constantly responded to the pings in your pocket. The average American checks their phone more than 50 times per day. That's a lot. To put some real-world weight to this, that means if you put as little as a quarter in a jar every time you checked your phone, you'd have more than $80 in a single week, $375 in a month and $4,500 collected in a year! Now, nobody is taking a quarter from you every time you check your phone, but maybe they should be. Consider how much productive work or thought could have happened each time you idly raised your phone to scroll through Instagram or Facebook yesterday. Even at work or school, time spent cramming your brain with useless stuff could instead have been filled with problem solving. I get some of my best ideas when I'm not streaming- if I wasn't allowing my mind time to think, I never would have come up with them at all.

Everything you do in life has an opportunity cost. If you're doing something regularly that isn't streaming, you need to assess whether that thing is more important to you than your dream. Laying around the house, waking up late, exercising at the gym, taking long lunches, compulsively checking Twitter or Reddit, even cooking dinner- anything and everything you could do. Not every action is bad for you, but every action does have a cost, and therefore should be measured. Getting sucked into a protracted Twitter argument one day might sap not only your time, but also enough energy that you don't want to stream. If you're starting from the beginning, binging Netflix or scrolling through your Instagram last night may have prevented you from creating your channel altogether. For advice on how to remove low-value activities from your day, see the entry How to Easily Free Up Time for Twitch. Limit the number of unproductive things you allow yourself to do in a day, and don't let yourself get tired out by busywork. It's easy to spend time doing mindless tasks, because it feels like that time doesn't cost anything. But in reality, those indulgences could cost you everything.


Once we leave school or work and arrive home, we feel like all our time is free again. But this is when it's more important than ever that you attempt to actually do something with that time. Any weeks, months, years that most of us spend just existing without working toward our dreams is time directly being removed from our creative lifespan. If you're dreaming of being a Twitch streamer (or anything for that matter) and you still haven't started taking action and building something, do it right now. Don't wait any longer. Stop paying the opportunity cost and start reaching for the actual opportunity!

Friday, January 17, 2020

Different Kinds of Viewer Engagement

In my time on Twitch, I've met all kinds of people, and eventually I noticed patterns about viewers- the things they're looking for when watching, their engagement levels based on what they say they're doing while watching, and so on. Everyone is on Twitch for a different reason after all (for more info on this concept, see the entry Who is Watching Your Streams, And Why?) But despite knowing that there are all kinds of viewers out there, many streamers only focus on the viewers who are loudest in chat. This can exclude, and even sometimes drive away, other viewers who don't fit the same mold. There are huge swaths of audience members on every channel that will either chat very seldom, or never chat at all. What are you doing to engage this portion of your audience?


Not everyone is as talkative
as Sam & Max.
Being engaging on stream isn't only about constantly pinging your viewers with questions in order to get them chatting. It's also about creating situations on stream which get them excited, laughing or thinking, without ever even needing to chat. In order to understand more easily what viewers want, I've broken down the most prevalent archetypes into four groups: Type A, B, C and D Viewers. 

Type A Viewer: This is the classic kind of Twitch viewer, which most streamers focus on exclusively when trying to be engaging in their streams. This viewer is actively watching and actively chatting on your shows, giving your stream more attention than any other thing they're currently doing. 

Type B Viewer: There's another kind of viewer however, who will watch your show, and might be interested in chatting, but at their own pace. This person might be doing some other primary task while your stream is playing, like washing the dishes or organizing their desk. They may see and hear almost everything, but not be interested in constantly being pulled away from what they're doing by having you ask them questions directly. 

Type C Viewer: This is a viewer who will primarily watch your show without talking- an action on Twitch known as 'lurking'. They may say hello when they enter, and respond once or twice, but will almost immediately leave chat for the rest of the show. They won't likely respond to more questions, but that doesn't mean they aren't still watching.

Type D Viewer: This is someone who watches your shows, but never makes it known and never chats at all. This also includes the portion of your audience who follow along with the shows after your streams by watching VODs. All of these people comprise a completely invisible 'lurking' portion of your audience.


Type A viewers are easy to identify, because they'll be itching to be engaged. They may be actively chatting up other community members, closely commenting on what's going on in your game, or consistently asking you questions to keep the conversation going. These viewers are primarily interested in being a part of a very interactive experience, and it's worth trying to meet their needs. If you leave a Type A viewer hanging for too long, they will often either leave, or recede into the background to lurk while they chat in someone else's stream. You don't have to jump up every time they say something, but you should at least make sure you're conversing with them. Ask them questions and bring up subjects that require a direct response from them individually- that's the kind of engagement they're looking for.

Different people want different things.
On the other end, Type B viewers often don't want to be actively engaged. Someone who is doing something else while watching doesn't want to be asked a bunch of questions directly, because that means they have to keep switching back to your stream to write their answers. Make sure you're able to tell the difference between Type A and B viewers, because what works for one will drive away the other: Type A viewers will often leave if they're not being asked enough questions, but Type B viewers will often leave because they're being asked too many questions. Keeping a Type B viewer engaged involves more open-ended questions, like asking the whole chat how their days went or what they thought of a movie- things that anyone can answer at any time. It also involves learning not to rely only on conversation, but to be passively engaging on your streams.

You may have noticed that constant conversation only really works for 1 of the 4 viewer types I mentioned: Type A viewers. The key to engaging your Type C and D, as well as many Type B viewers, is to make sure you're more entertaining in general, without needing the conversation to be interesting. This ensures that everyone who watches the show is given a baseline of engagement, whether or not they actually chat. To do this, focus on doing interesting things, making people laugh, or bringing up theories and ideas to get everyone thinking. Many people would rather watch Twitch like they're watching TV- they want to be passively engaged. Think about when you yourself watch a TV show- it can excite, entertain, scare you, or make you think. You don't need to talk back to the characters on your TV screen in order for the show itself to be engaging. Embrace this concept of passive engagement to become better at entertaining all of your audience members, not just the slim portion of people in the forefront who want to talk in chat.


A viewer who wants to talk and feels ignored will leave, but a viewer who wants to watch passively and is forced to talk might leave too. Plus, huge portions of your viewers won't respond to your conversation no matter what you do. It can be confusing and frustrating, but just remember that all your viewers are there to enjoy your content. There's no one kind of viewer that's more valuable than the others, and even the most invisible viewers who never talk on your streams at all may be the loudest behind-the-scenes, recommending your channel to all their friends and family. So don't simply go for one style of engagement, alienating all your other audience members- when you embrace different kinds of viewer engagement, you'll be creating more ways for everyone to have fun on your streams!

Friday, January 10, 2020

Tying Twitch to Your Life Goals

Being a Twitch streamer takes a lot of time. In several previous entires, I spoke about having to give up other less important things in your life in order to let your Twitch streaming dream grow. No matter what kinds of streams you do, or how long they are, you might begin to think you no longer have time for the other goals in life that are important to you. Maybe you've always dreamed of writing a book, or taking up painting, or even just reading more in general, and feel like those dreams are slipping away. But if you're creative enough, you can have your cake and eat it too- having a Twitch channel can actually help you achieve your other life goals as well.

I'm going to share with you three major life goals that Twitch has helped me to achieve so far, all in different ways. In the first example, Twitch streaming accelerated something I had been doing slowly for years. In the second, Twitch enhanced a life goal I was about to go through with, making it better than it would have been if I had never streamed. And in the third, Twitch enabled me to learn a completely new skill, changing my whole life in the process. In the following case studies, pay attention to how including something in my Twitch streams helped me to achieve these goals, and think about how you might be able to do something similar with your own bucket list items. If I was able to do it, there's no reason Twitch can't accelerate, enhance or enable your life goals just as easily.


The first goal is the easiest to imagine a Twitch streamer achieving: I wanted to work through the ever-growing catalog of story-based video games I owned. I've had a Steam account since the platform launched in 2003, and that means over a decade and a half of amassing hundreds of summer and winter sale deals on games I wanted to play, but never got around to. When I first started on Twitch, I did so with the intention of working through what I called my 'neverending backlog' of games, and through the lifespan of my channel so far, I've been doing just that. I've been able to experience so many amazing stories in games I never thought I'd get the chance to play, and I've gotten countless hours of enjoyment from them.

Twitch can help you achieve goals faster.
Playing video games was something I had already been doing before ever streaming on Twitch of course, but at a much slower rate. I may have binged on weekends or free evenings, but I didn't force myself to play for hours every single day without exception. Because Twitch gave me such a regimented lifestyle, I've been able to dedicate many more hours to playing video games in general. Having a Twitch channel helped me take a goal that I was chipping away at, and accelerate it greatly.


The next goal is a little more unorthodox for a streamer: Twitch helped me travel to Japan. I don't mean that I flew across the country on proceeds from my streams (that would require an astronomically larger channel than mine) but that there are several things about being a Twitch streamer which made this experience better than it would have been if I hadn't streamed.

Twitch helped me go here.
This wasn't my first time in Japan, but it was my first time traveling while not working at a salary job. Anyone who has been a freelancer knows how difficult it can be to commit to large trips like this, without paid vacation or job security to come back to. This is where the discipline I've gained from Twitch streaming has been invaluable. Streaming on Twitch without a salary job forced me to adopt extremely rigid time management skills, so I could commit the necessary hours toward creating the content I wanted, without preventing me from putting food on the table by turning down hourly work. This same lifestyle has also helped me become a lot smarter about saving money. Using many of the principles described in the entry How to Easily Free Up Time For Twitch where I'd remove low-value activities from my day, I also became very smart about removing needless expenses. These skills allowed me to save up enough over time to fund a trip, and gave me confidence that I wouldn't be ruined upon my return home.

In addition to this, a Twitch community can greatly enhance any trip. I got a pile of incredible recommendations from viewers. They not only found cool places to visit, but knew me well enough by watching my streams to know very closely what I would enjoy, and were able to give much more personalized suggestions. A big portion of the memories made on that trip to Tokyo were only possible thanks to my Twitch community. In all these ways- gaining better time management skills, improving my money saving habits, and having an amazing community- Twitch majorly enhanced one of my lifelong goals.


Lastly and most importantly: Thanks to Twitch, I learned an entirely new language. While I was playing one of the Yakuza games on my channel and using some of my limited knowledge of Japanese to read street signs, one viewer was excited by this educational aspect of my shows, and suggested to me that I teach 'Japanese classes' on stream. I had always wanted to truly learn the language, but had never really put in the time. So I took this inspiration to start a new account with Duolingo, a free language learning web app, and began streaming my progress in learning Japanese every day.

The game that started it all.
At first, these Duolingo shows were fun extra features on my channel- I called them 'bonus streams' and still did three other video game shows in addition to those Duolingo shows every day, so I wouldn't interrupt the normal flow of content. But I immediately found that I enjoyed these streams greatly- I was able to talk to viewers who started studying with me, and swap bits of knowledge. And then something strange happened: as the days turned to weeks, and those weeks turned to months, people started finding my channel specifically because of the Duolingo shows. I met other Japanese learners who joined only for my daily language streams rather than video games, and I met native Japanese speakers who watched in order to improve their English. Japanese language learning quickly became another of my channel's signature features. As the episodes soared into the hundreds I made huge strides, speaking in unbroken Japanese sentences and paragraphs for longer and longer sections of my shows. Now, over 250 episodes in, I conduct the entire daily Duolingo stream while only ever speaking Japanese, using live-translation subtitles on screen so English speaking viewers can follow along.

Flying around the country on business trips, and even while I was in Japan, I kept my streak going, waking up each morning to point my phone at my laptop screen while doing my studies. In Tokyo, though I was far from fluent, I was able to speak confidently and hold pretty decently long conversations with bartenders, wait staff and shop owners entirely in Japanese. My brother, who I was traveling with, joked that I was his personal translator, able to navigate menus, accurately ask for what we wanted at shops, and get us into places that wouldn't normally allow Americans because of the language barrier. I can say with certainty that because of Twitch, I can speak a second language. And that's a priceless gift.


Since joining Twitch, I've met so many people who are making their dreams come true thanks to the platform. I know a streamer who owns a restaurant and streams from the kitchen every day, I've met someone who broadcasts while making the crafts that people commission from her online store, and I've followed someone developing his own video game, who has streamed every part of the process for hundreds of days in a row. Even if you have more than one goal like me, you can work them into your streams if you're creative enough. And if I was able to make something as boring as studying into a watchable show, I'm certain your life goal can be turned into a great piece of content too. Not only will you be making your streaming career more fulfilling for yourself and more unique to your viewers by doing this, but streaming your progress might even push you into sticking with your aspirations more strongly. So don't think of Twitch as something that saps your time- let it help you achieve your most sought-after ambitions!

Friday, January 3, 2020

Monitoring Your Streams

Streaming on Twitch usually means doing a lot of things by yourself. The average streamer sets up their graphics, tweaks output settings, keys their greenscreen, creates a title and then talks on-camera for hours, all without anyone else in the room to check the show for errors. It's a lot to think about, and because there are so many moving parts, small mistakes can end up causing you to lose major portions of your streams.

You might accidentally turn off your microphone at the start of the show, so that everything you say for the whole rest of the stream is lost. If you’re playing a singleplayer game or other offline activity, your internet might even cut out without you noticing. Smaller issues can go unnoticed as well, like an OBS scene not working, capture card framerates being incorrect, or sound being too loud or quiet. In an ideal world, every potential issue would be caught before you go live. But things happen, and that isn’t always the case. So for our imperfect world, we need to keep careful watch of our streams while we're streaming, to make sure anything that does break isn't broken for long.


Monitoring can be a balancing act.
We all know we should be engaging with Twitch chat to get closer to our audiences, but did you know that your channel's chat is also one of the most accurate detectors of major stream problems you could possibly have? Let's say your internet upload speed drops, and the whole stream is no longer working. Don't forget- in the entry Getting Your Stream Output Settings Just Right, I laid out the difference between upload and download speeds. This means your stream output can be completely disconnected from the internet while you notice no drop in internet connectivity during your Fortnite match. It also means that, should your stream fail due to poor upload speeds, you'll still be able to read your channel's chat messages as they happen, and the complaints about the stream going dark will quickly start flooding in.

Chat will not hesitate to tell you about things that prevent them from watching the show- the stream cutting out, your microphone being muted, your camera dying, things like that- and you can count on them reporting it quickly as well. This means that, in addition to engaging with chat often, you can also use your chat as an alarm system for major stream issues. As a human element, they can also be much more reliable than software at recognizing particular stream problems- your computer isn't likely going to warn you that your microphone is turned off for example, but chat will notice instantly. You can't rely on chat to report all problems, however. First, if there's a more subtle issue, your viewers either won't notice or won't bother telling you. Nobody wants to feel like they're crying wolf, so people will generally save their warnings for when it's really important. Second, and this is extra crucial if you're a new streamer, this method assumes that you have people chatting in your streams in the first place. 


It's necessary that you have at least one method of checking on your stream from your side as well. This of course is the best way to know about an issue as soon as it happens, provided you notice it. Keeping OBS visible on your computer is the best way to catch problems at their source- you can see a preview of all the stream's visuals to ensure everything looks right, and monitor volume levels to see whether your mic and other sounds are turned on. OBS has the added benefit of reporting when your stream has dropped frames as well, so you'll be able to tell when a viewer's connectivity issues are because of your internet or theirs. 

Sometimes I'll listen to the stream audio through
my phone, so I know I'm hearing the final output.
However, if you don't have a second computer screen through which to keep OBS visible, your OBS window will probably stay hidden behind the game you're playing while you stream. If this is the case, you do have another monitor available though- your phone. Leave your phone propped up somewhere you can see, with your stream open and the sound turned off. This will still serve most of the same functions as watching OBS, like being able to see any visual glitches on your shows, or detecting certain internet problems. Your phone also sports the bonus of showing your stream's final output- something even OBS doesn't necessarily do. For example, certain framerate, bitrate, color depth settings, and more, won't appear for you in your OBS preview, but if you watch through your phone you could see all these things happening. During my own streams, I'll regularly turn up my phone volume for a few seconds to check my final output audio- something I can't easily do through OBS when I'm in the middle of a show.


You shouldn't only be monitoring for problems on your streams though. There are many actions people can take on your Twitch channel that you should be watching for, all of which deserve your attention. Follows, hosts, raids, subscribers, cheers, and all sorts of other alerts will show through your Twitch chat window, but it's important to keep these organized and separated from your chat as well. If you're having a particular lively chat day, you wouldn't want to miss the opportunity to thank someone for following, just because their message got buried behind other comments.

You can use dedicated (and free) pieces of software like Streamlabels, which will show lists of any major stream actions you want to keep track of, separated from your chat window. Even better, if you're using Streamlabs' version of OBS to broadcast your shows, they have Streamlabels and other such tools built right into the software, so you can do most of your monitoring all in one place. If you want to go without extra software, your Twitch channel's dashboard screen has many tools as well, though they aren't as complete as third party solutions. 


There are all kinds of monitoring solutions you can use for your streams, but it's not about simply having every tool available. Think about which things you have a hard time detecting on your shows, and use the tools which will best help you to locate those issues when they happen. In addition to the theoretical, part of the process is going to involve running into new problems and going through this process again. If you can't prevent something from happening on your stream, the next best thing is being able to stop that problem quickly, once it starts. The more efficiently you monitor your shows, the more confidently you'll be able to broadcast. With all kinds of software, as well as your own chat backing you up, no technical problem can stand in your way for long!