Know You Aren’t Trapped
One of the big differences between skydiving and streaming is that with skydiving you can’t stop once you start. You can’t decide to quit in the middle of your free fall and suddenly wind up safe on the ground. Once you leave that plane, you’re in it for the duration. The same can’t be said for streaming. You have an out. Too nervous being on camera for others to see? Finding yourself too mentally taxed from viewer interaction – regardless of if it’s good or bad? Make an embarrassing mistake in-game or while talking? No matter the situation, you always have the option of ending your stream and returning to the safety of offline obscurity. Just knowing this was a huge relief to me when I started. I don’t necessarily advise doing it though (or making it a habit), especially if you have any non-troll viewers present. If your stream is empty, feel free to shut it down the moment you’re getting overwhelmed. If you have viewers, you can certainly still stop, but definitely go about it in a better way. Engage them, apologize, and make an excuse if you need to. Just try not to leave them hanging.
The relationship between viewers and new (to them) streams, especially if the stream isn’t wildly popular, is an exceedingly fragile thing.
Don’t Stress Over Perfection
This one was particularly hard for me. As an uncompromising perfectionist, I am my own harshest critic and hold myself to the highest standards of quality. So the thought of putting myself out there without my stream being the best stream to ever grace the internet gave me legitimate anxiety. If some of your stream anxiety is coming from this, then… I totally get it. All I can say is it doesn’t matter as much as you think it does. As much as I thought it did. Does having an appealing stream layout with engaging channel graphics and interactive chat games help in drawing and keeping viewers? Absolutely. But your biggest asset is your personality. One of the streamers I really enjoy watching has no chat games, no overlay, and very basic channel graphics. It’s just him (with a green screen) and the game. And he gets a good number of regular viewers. Don’t let perfecting your channel hold you back from streaming. Make the stream presentable and get it live. There’s always time to tweak and improve it later.
The Leap is the Hardest Part
This is one where, unfortunately, experience is the only way to know whether or not it applies to you. For me, even after having been a streamer for a while, the leap of starting a stream is what I still struggle with the most to this day. I have streamed enough to feel completely comfortable with the whole process and never give it another thought… and yet, the days I know I’m going to stream, I get sick to my stomach at the thought of it. My insides get all twisted and knotted, sometimes to the point where I can’t eat dinner or feel like I might throw up. And I feel that way for hours before, and right up to, the moment I click “Start Stream.” But then a funny thing happens. The moment I’m on screen and the stream has started in earnest, I’m no longer anxious. I’m relaxed and having fun. The buildup, the worrying, the thoughts about this or that, the anticipation, all of this is what sends my anxiety through the roof. I psych myself out. If you find that you feel more at ease after starting your stream, then recognize that for what it is and understand, going forward, that if you can push through the gut-wrench of pre-stream then you’ve made it past the worst of it.
There are more tidbits I could include here, but I feel as though these cover the main issues – at least, from my own experience. But again, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for the brutal struggle we face. All I can say is that, whether or not this was helpful, if you can find any way to overcome your anxiety and get to streaming, please do. It has the potential to be an exceedingly rewarding experience.
I have made some really good friends through streaming and networking. They alone made the leap worth taking.
So take the leap if you can.
Take the leap and know that, even if we never meet or interact beyond this article, somewhere out there I will be applauding your bravery.
Sometimes streamer and full time Kappa-er, Josh lives in Texas with his wife, 4 dogs, and 3 cats. He spends his free time gaming or being creative, and fully relies on his sarcasm and dark humor to get through the day.