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Streaming tips

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A couple of people have recently told me they have reservations about doing a long stream, and I've seen posts on forums/blogs etc, asking for advice on how to cope during longer streams, so I figured it might be a good idea to post some tips and tricks to managing it all.
I've run several marathon streams over the past 10 years both on my personal channel and helped out on several other channels too. I don't consider myself an expert, but I certainly have some experience and I'm happy to share it in the hope that it at least helps or sparks a good idea in someone else.
A lot of what is in this post will be valid for any stream, but I wanted to focus more on longer sessions as those are the ones you're most likely to struggle with.

PREPARATION - Contrary to what you might think, having your stream be successful is decided almost entirely before you even begin streaming.  Preparation is the key and can make or break your efforts.

YOUR STREAM – Set up some sort of bot to stop spamming (ask friends for recommendations). I personally recommend Branebot, but you might find another you prefer. Ask friends to help moderate your channel. Often having someone just keeping an eye on things whilst you’re playing will really help. Use an overlay that represents Extra Life (there are many available). Make sure there is a link available to your donation page that is easy for people to find. If you have a webcam use it, viewers like to see who they’re watching. If you need help setting up your stream, ask for help. We are in this together, and we all want each other to succeed (another reason I love this community).

RAVE ABOUT IT - Social media is absolutely crucial to your success and you need to embrace and encourage it in all forms. Use any social media that you’re comfortable with, and encourage all your friends to help by sharing, retweeting, liking, etc. The best time to start advertising your stream, in my experience, is about a week to two weeks in advance. Any longer, and people might forget, any shorter and you might not reach your whole audience before your stream begins. I usually try and post a video or blog 2 weeks before game day, and another a few days before as a reminder. Make sure the tone of each is different and make sure it’s full of enthusiasm (it’s infectious).

EAT - Another somewhat obvious thing people don't realize is that what most people think is a great diet for a long stream (caffeine, sugar, and carbs), is probably a bad idea. Yes, these will keep you active in the short term but without physical activity to metabolize these properly you are just going to crash. Instead, here are some suggestions:
Fruit - Natural sugars break down faster, and you don't crash as much.
Almonds - These are great, especially salted.
Full meals - I suggest, if you cook, make up smaller portions of a full meal before you start streaming and set them aside to reheat later. I often do this with a nice chicken and pasta or rice meal.
Drinks - Things like Fruit juice and water are great. Energy drinks work fine if you want, but beware the crash. Have some non-caffeinated drinks ready also. Remember that too much caffeine is bad for you.

SLEEP! - This goes without saying, but it's best to take it easy the day before the stream, and get a good night's rest. A few more hours more than you regularly sleep if you can. Make sure you're well rested. I also recommend not playing any of the games you plan to play on stream, so you can keep your enthusiasm up and not have the gameplay get monotonous for you during your stream. Remember it's your enthusiasm that will keep people interested in watching and sharing your stream, so stay happy about what you're doing. If you find yourself bored, switch it up and do something different, even if it’s only for 5 minutes.

GOALS - Have clear and defined goals for your stream. Make sure they are easily accessible to anyone stopping by. Thereis a HUGE difference between:
"[24HRS] I am raising $500 for ExtraLife" and "Charity Marathon Stream!"
The first title indicates the duration, the goal, and the charity. While the second just doesn't really convey a clear mission or message. Keep things clear and concise.
Have what you are trying to do simply defined, and readily available. If you use a chat bot with timers, maybe add a reminder every 30 minutes for people to donate to the cause as well.

ENTERTAINMENT- Now you've done all your prep, and the stream is up and running! You've experienced streaming for a couple hours at a time, but how do you make that 3 or 4 hour experience last longer (If your stream lasts more than 4 hours, please contact your doctor LOL, just kidding) without boring your audience? The key here is variety.
I know a lot of us stick to just a couple games, but longer streams are a chance to break out of your normal formula and try new things that maybe you have been meaning to do, but haven't had the chance. For example, once I randomly (I actually closed my eyes and just clicked the mouse on a list) added RollerCoaster Tycoon to a stream and it was a hit! Sometimes playing something people haven't seen in a long time can make all the difference. You can also take a poll of your viewers and see what they'd like to see you play. Sometimes you just want some unique content for game day.
Also, not everything has to be straight gameplay. If you're brave enough to engage your audience you could try a Q&A session, help people out with games they're struggling with, have some friends stop by and crack some jokes, do a magic trick, or use something like a whiteboard to draw funny pictures and enjoy the reactions. Again, variety helps with keeping both you and your audience engaged (essential).
Add rewards for donating! It doesn’t have to cost you anything. Maybe it's 1 push up/$1, or something silly like taking a shot of pure lemon juice or some other kind of challenge you think will be entertaining. If you use a webcam when you stream your games, odds are that your viewers come as much for you and your personality as they do for the game. Take this time to shine, and break out of just playing the game for a bit.

PITFALLS - It might sound cold, but we all have our limits to what we can do with the audiences we have. We all probably have a good bead on our communities, so don't set a goal you don't think they're going to reach. It's better to meet and exceed a lower goal, then to fail to reach an unreasonable one. Remember it’s your viewers that will be donating the money, you’re just encouraging them to donate more. In the end you know your audience best, just make it fun for them.
One major pitfall is the dreaded pass out. Because of this, HAVE A BACKUP PLAN!!! Stream as a group, have a means to keep in touch with each other. Check on how everyone in your group is doing. It helps to know someone has your back.
Short story - I passed out for 1 hour during a 30 hour stream many years ago, during a bathroom break.My team took over, diverting traffic to another stream (this was at 5am, so only my most loyal twitchers were still there) and kept things going while they called my phone to wake me up. It was crucial to have people there to support me, and you will need that support. Set alarms, take breaks to do some physical activity, even if it's just to wlak around the house for a couple of minutes, and remember to eat small snacks regularly. Don't over eat (food coma!!), but don't under eat and lack energy. It's a balancing act, take everything at your own pace.

I know this all sounds like a lot, and for some people a lot of it is also common sense, but know your limits!
Some people simply can't stay awake for 24hrs. Sometimes it's better to split your time into smaller sessions (no one will judge you for that, do what is reasonable for you).

My absolute #1 rule that overrides everything else - Make sure that you enjoy the experience as much as possible.
If you’re not having fun, how do you expect anyone else to?

I know this is a long read, but I hope this helps someone. If you want to contact me directly, feel free to PM me, reply here, or shoot me an email (

Until then: Good luck, and happy streaming!!!
#GameOn #ForTheKids


Edited by MartB64

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