Whether your goal is to become the next big Twitch streamer or just build your personal brand and connect with new friends, you want your Twitch stream to run as smoothly as possible.
Thankfully, Twitch makes it fairly easy to start streaming. However, there's still a bit of prep work that goes into having a successful, uninterrupted stream. Whether you’re preparing for your first stream on Twitch or your hundredth, this Twitch stream checklist will help you make sure your stream goes smoothly—no guarantees on your game performance, though!
Share Your Streaming Schedule With Family or Roommates
While we understand that keeping your streaming to a schedule might not be your idea of fun, there are a lot of benefits to scheduling out your Twitch streams. Aside from minimizing interruptions, one of the most important pros of keeping a schedule has to do with internet bandwidth.
Share your streaming schedule with anyone who shares an internet connection with you—like family and roommates—and ask that they limit their usage while you're streaming. They should still be able to browse the web and stream music, but any large downloads or uploads could cause your stream to lag. In exchange, offer to return the favor if they ever want to stream.
Restart Your Computer
Even state-of-the-art computers benefit from a restart before starting your Twitch stream. Restarting your computer will ensure that your computer’s RAM isn’t being bogged down by programs that were left open or from memory leaks caused by outdated or glitchy software.
Streaming can take up a lot of computer resources, so you always want to start with a clean slate. Otherwise, your streaming software might be competing with programs you’re not even using (those memory leaks we were talking about).
After your restart, check your CPU, GPU and RAM using the Task Manager in Windows or the Activity Monitor in macOS to make sure everything looks normal. Pro tip: keep a log of what your CPU, GPU and RAM should look like, so you can compare against those benchmarks.
Test Your Internet Connectivity and Run a Speed Test
There are dozens of free speed test programs available, including Google’s internet speed test. Regardless of which program you use, make sure it tests upload speed as well as download speed. For a smooth streaming experience, make sure you have a minimum upload speed of 3-5 megabits per second (mbps).
If your speeds are slower than that on WiFi, try using a direct Ethernet connection. Many providers offer 5mbps upload speed on their basic plans, so if you’re getting less than that when plugged in, you might want to restart your modem and router or reach out to your provider to see what’s causing the slowdown.
Launch Your Streaming Software
Regardless of your streaming software of choice, now’s the time to check your settings. Those settings include video bitrate, audio bitrate, encoding and output settings. Ideally, your software will have saved your preferences from your last stream—but if it didn’t, you’ll want to adjust those settings before you start streaming.
If you’re not sure which settings to use, Twitch has a convenient guide with broadcasting recommendations and guidelines. Whatever your settings are, write them down so you can have them handy for your next Twitch stream.
Test Your USB Microphone
USB microphones are easy to use and unlikely to fail, but it’s still a best practice to make sure that your streaming software is pulling audio from the correct microphone.
You should also check that your USB microphone is set to the cardioid pattern to minimize background noise, that the gain is set properly for your setup (not too quiet and not too loud) and that you’re not accidentally muted. While you’re at it, take a look at our tips on improving the sound of your Twitch streams.
Test Your USB Webcam
Using a webcam to broadcast your reactions during your Twitch stream is optional, but highly recommended. Seeing your face helps viewers connect with you and your personality, and generally makes your stream more fun to watch. If you’re apprehensive about going on camera, read through our tips on how to look awesome on Twitch.
Just like with your mic, you should always double-check that your broadcasting software is pulling video from your preferred webcam. Then, once you confirm that your webcam is working, take a look at yourself by doing a Twitch test stream. Is the lighting okay? Is your background staged the way you want? Is there anything visible in the feed that you don’t want others to see, such as mail with your address on it or other personal information?
Make Sure Peripherals Are Charged and Connected
Now that you’ve double-checked your USB microphone and webcam, it’s time to do the same for any other peripherals you’ll be using in your Twitch streaming setup.
If your keyboard or mouse require batteries, make sure they’re fully charged before streaming (better yet, get yourself the Logitech PowerPlay Wireless Charging System, and you’ll never run out of juice). If you’re streaming with a console or external game controllers, check that they’re properly connected to your computer and streaming software.
Not every streamer uses an audio mixer or controller, but many prefer how easy it makes connecting streaming hardware (such as XLR microphones), as well as the extra control it can give over your streaming audio. If you’re using a mixer, take the time to make sure everything is hooked up correctly and that your settings are just the way you like them.
Configure Your Overlay, Chatbots and Alerts
Stream overlays are graphical elements that display multiple video feeds or useful information on your stream. An overlay can be as simple as putting your logo in the corner of your stream, or as complex as you like. Twitch extensions like MasterOverwatch make it easy to display real-time data on your overlay, and open-source programs like Snip can even pull artist, track and album information from Spotify and iTunes to let your fans know what you’re listening to.
Many Twitch streamers use chatbots to make it easier to interact with viewers. Chatbots can allow you to create polls, bet on outcomes, save quotes, post automated messages at specific intervals and more. If you do choose to use a chatbot, such as Streamlabs Chat Bot, make sure it’s connected to your account and that you’ve gotten familiar with the chatbot commands you want to use during your Twitch stream.
Come Up With an Interesting Title for Your Stream
Coming up with the perfect title for your stream might be the hardest part of this live streaming checklist, but it’s also where you’ll get to let your creativity shine. While we can’t tell you what your viewers will respond to, here are a few ideas to try until you find what works best for you:
- Be descriptive. Give your viewers an idea of what you’ll be doing on stream, whether it’s a blind playthrough of a new game or “Just Chatting.”
- Be funny. Use puns or whimsical language to inject some humor into your stream.
- Use numbers or stats. Numbers tend to draw people in, which is why publications like Buzzfeed run so many list articles. Try something like “Trying Out the Top 10 Weapons in Fortnite.”
- Mention any special events. Streaming on your birthday? Halloween? National Talk-Like-a-Pirate Day? Make it a part of your stream!
- Use tags. Tag your stream with relevant categories like “Speedrun” or “Cosplay” to boost your search visibility.
If you’re still not sure what to title your stream, look to see what other popular streamers are doing. If it’s working for them, it might work for you, too.
Finally, prepare anything else you’ll need during your stream. We don’t know what it is, but something about streaming on Twitch really works up an appetite—that’s why one of the last things you should do before starting your stream is gather any snacks and drinks you may want while you’re streaming.
It’s also a good idea to keep notes on anything you want to mention during your stream, like asking folks to subscribe or promoting a Discord server. If you’re using a chatbot, you can even program it to post periodic reminders of things you’d like to mention while you’re streaming. Last but not least, don’t forget to get your music playlist together to get you in the right headspace.
Fire Up Your Stream
Now that you’ve run through the entire Twitch streaming checklist, you’re ready to go! If you’re looking for even more ways to make future streams easier, check out our guide to essential streaming gear and hacks.