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Michelle Mannering
Michelle Mannering

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How to decide what to work on when you're live streaming

This was a question I got asked in a meeting earlier this week. It ran something along the lines of:

"when you go live on Twitch, how do you decide what to stream? What do you work on? Do you plan in advance?"

All brilliant questions. As many people dive into live streaming and working while streaming, this is a question many ask. When you are live coding do you just do your 'work'? Do you pick a side project? Do you plan it all out in advance?

You might have seen our GitHub Open Source Friday streams on the GitHub Twitch channel. Since these are on a company channel, they are a bit more 'polished'. We spend more time planning these in advance, getting guests on the show, and deciding on a schedule.

Instead of this more 'planned-in-advanced' content, I want to talk about that I do when I'm streaming on my personal channel.

Planning in advance (spoiler alert: you don't need too!)

When it comes to my own channel I don't tend to plan too much. Maybe it's because that's what my community expects of me, but I also don't want to overthink it. For me, just pressing the go live button is enough.

I don't plan the agenda, length of the stream, or anything like that. I only plan the overall 'theme' for the stream. For example, last week I wanted to show off some GitHub Flavoured Markdown tips and tricks. Beyond thinking about this topic, that's the extent of my planning. Thinking markdown would only take about half an hour I had planned to jump back into my C# programming once I'd finished the tips and tricks.

When streaming, time is different. Some things take longer than you expect- in fact, most things take longer. What I though would be a quick show of markdown and then working on C# turned into a couple hours of markdown. This is totally fine! You don't need to always complete everything. The best thing about live streaming is you can simply say "we'll continue this next time". It's not like you're giving a talk at a conference and you have a finite amount of time.

Instead, you essentially have as much time as you want to be able to showcase what you want. Viewers will come back to continue where you left off. It's almost like blogging. Readers would come each day to read what you've been up to, and here with live streaming they tune into your stream to watch you work live. It's an experience for both parties involved. You get your 'work' done and you get to interact with your audience while you're doing your daily job, your side hustle, or learning something new.

So next time you're thinking about streaming, don't overthink it. Simply turn on the camera, click the go live button, and start doing what you'd usually do; code, learn, build. If you're not sure what to work on, start streaming and ask your audience what they want to see!

What to live stream

thisisengineering-raeng-uyfohHiTxho-unsplash2 Image by thisisengineering on Unsplash

If you scrolled down just to see a handy list of ideas, here it is.

What to stream on Twitch:

  • your side hustle
  • your open source project
  • what you're doing at your job (obviously don't stream anything confidential)
  • what you're learning/wanting to learn
  • pair programming (or co-streaming); invite someone else on so you can work together
  • ask your audience!

And if you're ever stuck for ideas of what to learn or where, check out my handy guide on places to learn online for free.

What are your top tips when it comes to streaming?

Cover image by Paul McGarth on Unsplash

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