Hey there!  If you’re part of a house-of-worship community and you’ve ventured into the world of live streaming, you’re in the right place.  In this article, we’ll explore some simple yet effective tips to improve your live streaming performance, even if you’re not a tech wizard. I hope we can use this info to help you make your virtual gatherings smoother than ever.  If you’ve been following along, you will know that I’ve been doing a series of articles for Touchstone titled “3 Tips for Better Livestreams” – one on Audio, one on Lighting and one on cameras.  This article is a bonus 4th tip for the blog community only.

So now you have optimised your live streaming output with my other tips, we need to transmit the result to your audience in the world outside of your venue.  This is where your network equipment and processing equipment have the most impact on what your audience actually sees and hears.

  1. Know Your Internet Speed: Before we dive into any technical jargon, let’s start with something everyone can relate to; your internet speed.  A reliable live stream begins with a stable internet connection. Check with your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to ensure you have an adequate upload speed.  ISPs will often quote a dual number for speed, like 300/100.  This translates to a download speed of 300Mbps and an upload speed of 100Mbps.  The numbers are nominal, not exact.  For a seamless streaming experience, aim for at least 5-10 Mbps just for streaming, but as in most things Internet, more is better.  It may be worth running the Speed Test tool at https://www.speedtest.net/ to make sure.
  2. Wired Connection Over Wi-Fi: If you’re streaming from your house of worship, try to use a wired Ethernet connection instead of Wi-Fi.  Wired connections are more stable, provide dedicated capacity and are less prone to interference.  If you must use Wi-Fi for any part of your solution, make sure you’re close to your router for a stronger signal.  Where possible, locate the router and other devices so there are no walls or other obstructions between them, as these degrade the signal.
  3. Quality Matters, But Adjust Settings: Full 1080p high-definition streams might be tempting, but they can strain your internet connection.  You can still have great quality with lower settings, like 720p, especially if your audience is using a phone or tablet as their viewing device.  Most streaming platforms offer options to adjust video quality.  Try reducing the video resolution to a lower setting if you experience buffering issues or other quality issues on the audience devices but not at the venue.
  4. Close Unnecessary Applications: Your computer or streaming device may be running background apps that consume bandwidth.  Close unnecessary programs to free up resources for your live stream.  This can make a big difference in performance.  Unleash your inner detective to find and close everything running on your device that isn’t necessary for your livestream.  This might mean moving ancillary applications like presentation software, onto another computer.  This is especially the case where the ancillary application is necessary for the overall service, but not directly contributing to the actual livestream.
  5. Update Your Streaming Software: If you’re using streaming software, keep it updated.  Developers often release updates to improve performance and fix bugs.  Regularly check for updates and install them to ensure a smooth stream.
  6. Consider Hardware Upgrades: If you’re doing live streaming regularly, investing in some hardware upgrades might be beneficial.  Upgrading your computer’s RAM is an option that is particularly helpful or using a dedicated streaming device can help handle the workload more efficiently.
  7. Test Your Setup Before Going Live: Don’t wait until the big day to test your setup.  Do a trial run to make sure everything works as expected.  Check your audio, video, and internet connection.  It’s much easier to troubleshoot issues in advance.
  8. Engage Your Audience: Finally, remember that technology is just a tool.  What truly matters is the relational connection you build with your audience.  Engage with your viewers through comments and chat and make them feel part of the experience.

In the world of live streaming, even those without a technical background can create a smooth and enjoyable experience for their house-of-worship community.  By following these user-friendly tips, you’ll be well on your way to delivering high-quality live streams that bring people closer together, regardless of their age or technical expertise. Soon, the image at the top of this post may well live on you church’s website!  Happy streaming!

Peter Lane is Principal Consultant at System Design & Communication Services and has over 30 years of experience with Technology systems.  We invite your questions, suggestions and ideas for articles.  These can be submitted either through the editor or by email to dct@dct.org.nz.  We also operate a website focused on building a community of people interested in improving how we can use technology in churches, located at www.dct.org.nz.   

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