During the pandemic, when theaters, concert halls and other entertainment venues shut their doors, it felt like interacting with others was out of reach.

Then livestreaming arrived so people could interact with others from their homes and still enjoy live music and sports away from a venue.

Today, livestreaming is a platform to share opinions, fight video game zombies and document important life events.

It allows video to be sent over the internet in real time without first being recorded and stored.

The platform is more than just a playground; it’s a tool for sharing. Here are five tips to get started and maximize the potential of livestreaming.

1. Solidify the content

One of the best practices for a successful stream is to have a stated goal in mind. Streams with content all over the place can be less successful than a thoughtful, planned stream.

There are a number of ways to plan the ideas, from putting together a flow chart on a piece of paper to writing a small script.

A little off-the-cuff idea can be fine from time to time, but having a solid plan will allow you to worry less about your content and have a little more fun with the process.

2. Choose a service

There are multiple livestreaming services to choose from, but some cater to certain niches. For general livestreaming, Facebook is the best beginner’s platform. Facebook has a scheduling option to set up a planned date for streaming and an easy start-up function.

If you use Facebook and have good outreach, it’s an easy way to gain followers in a familiar setting. Most social media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter have livestreaming spaces, as well.

Twitch is the most popular service that exclusively livestreams. While most popular with the video game community, the platform is simple to use. Create an account, click the “go live” button and you’re all set.

3. Check the equipment

For casual streamers, a simple computer check to make sure the microphone and camera work should be enough. To go a more professional route requires a little investment in new equipment.

The Blue Yeti USB microphone is one of the best microphones on the market, but it costs almost $90 retail. A microphone is also dependent on what will happen during the streaming.

If it’s a talking stream to recap the news or deliver opinions about sports or music, a standup microphone like the Blue Yeti will serve.

For other streams, like gaming or yoga, other varieties will pick up sound more clearly.

Besides sound, lighting is an important quality. Light rings are the best investment for streamers, and depending on size and brand, they can be relatively moderate in price.

4. Build a following

The streaming world has basic guidelines to follow for success. Promotion is a big deal when you’re just starting out in order to get people to join your stream.

Whether through social media or word of mouth, include a link to the stream in the conversation or a post. Posting on message boards or sending a message to other streamers will help as well.

5. Interact with the audience

An important part of livestreaming is the interaction between streamers and their audiences. With comment sections, donate buttons and other tools, there are lots of ways to interact with an audience. The key is to treat them with respect.

Thanking people for joining or making a donation is a good place to start, as well as remembering the names of frequent watchers. Responding to comments and acknowledging a recommendation builds trust between streamer and viewer.

If things get unprofessional, unruly or even violent in the stream, it’s the streamer’s job to take care of it. Making the stream a safe environment is the streamer’s responsibility.

Whether it’s a verbal warning or a ban, a quick response will help set the mood in the chat.

  • Community reporter, spring 2024 Studying journalism, writing and reporting Reach me at jasbm4@umsystem.edu, or in the newsroom at 630-280-4984.