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MLA Full: "11 Little Tips for Better Video Chat (For Teachers...and Everybody Else)." YouTube, uploaded by vlogbrothers, 3 April 2020,
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We have been making educational video for a long time now, but all we have ever wanted to do is make life easier for students and teachers. Hopefully this video does that, and hopefully Study Hall does too! You can find our new videos at

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Good morning, John.  Remember back in 2011 when we launched two YouTube channels, SciShow and Crash Course that are now way bigger than vlogbrothers and both have over a billion views on their channels?  I have been really glad that we did that for a long time but what I didn't know is that those channels and a bunch of other ones we do like The Art Assignment and Healthcare Triage and SciShow Kids would suddenly become more useful during a pandemic.  Like, I didn't think that would happen because I didn't think there would be a pandemic.

I've said this a lot, but the goal of those things isn't to replace the classroom.  It's to help learners and teachers teach and learn because you can't replace the classroom, but now, temporarily, we are being forced a little bit to kind of replace classrooms for a time and a lot of that replacement is teaching over live video.  Doing livestream is something that I have a little bit of experience with.  Making video is something I have a lot of experience with, so with that in mind, here are some tips for how to do good livestreams.  Let's go!

First, lighting matters more than your camera.  This is what I look like on my webcam with just the normal lights in my office, and now I will plug in my light.  Get the brightest light you can and put it at like 45 degrees off-center from you so it's shining on one side of your face.  The other side of your face will be lit probably by just ambient room light.

Second thing, audio also matters more than video, so talk fairly loud.  Like, this is not my normal speaking voice.  If you an afford to drop $40 or $50 on a mic and a light, I've put some links in the descriptions to cheap ones that are good.  

Third, fairly basic, arrange your screen so that you are facing toward your camera.  You don't have to stare into the lens the whole time.  

Fourth, the rule of thirds.  Divide your screen into thirds horizontally.  Don't have your eyes in the middle.  That's weird.  Put them on the third line.  Why?   I don't know!

Fifth, background does matter.  This might be a little too busy, but don't have nothing.

Number six, all the best livestreams have some kind of audience interaction.  Even if you aren't interacting with every single person, if you are interacting with some people, it makes everyone feel like they are being interacted with, especially if no one's ever sure which person is going to be the one who is going to be interacted.  That keeps everybody present and feeling like they're in the same space together.

Number seven, lag is a thing and it is unavoidable.  If you say something and someone doesn't answer immediately, don't start talking because chances are, they will start talking to you shortly.

Number eight, if you can, directly wire your computer via an actual cord to the internet.  That will decrease the chances of something going wrong.

Number nine, this is one to take with a grain of salt, but when I'm doing a livestream, I do not like to script, but I do like to outline.  I like to know roughly what I'm going to say, but I don't want to know exactly what I'm gonna say.  You don't want that super pre-planned energy, but you also don't want that super chaotic I'm not sure what I'm gonna say next energy.

Number ten, it is totally fine to feel weirded out by this and to be nervous and not great at it.  This is not what you were hired to do.  Keep at it.  If you want to practice while no one's there, there's nothing wrong with that, except that your cat or spouse might think you're going loony, but if you keep doing it, it does get less weird.

And finally, number eleven, use whatever resources are at your disposal.  There are lots of teachers doing this right now.  Do your best to learn from them, to connect with them, to help them, and also the internet is full of great videos like Crash Course, but all kinds that are there for you to use and indeed, Crash Course is launching a video series right now with Arizona State University called Study Hall.

It's a series of learning playlists.  We're gonna look at topics from writing and composition to algebra to chemistry and more important than ever these days, data literacy.  The first episode on composition is on the internet now.  The goal of Study Hall is to help as many people as possible be successful in their education, whether they're current students who want to fill some gaps before going back to school or just wanna learn, this is for you and we wanted to make it free for everyone so you can subscribe now at

John, I'll see you on Tuesday.