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How to Share Your Engineering Expertise by Streaming

How to Share Your Engineering Expertise by Streaming

It is a small investment in equipment, but pay attention to details and stay relevant.

Streaming is an increasingly popular way for mechanical engineers to share their expertise by revealing unique insights, building credibility, generating leads, and growing an audience.

No matter which streaming style you choose—audio only, or audio and video together—becoming a subject matter expert comes down to a few non-negotiable factors, said streaming media expert Dan Rayburn, host of the Dan Rayburn Podcast.

“You have to speak intelligently and intelligibly,” he said. “And I don't care how animated you are, if you don't have good production value so people can hear you, you’re screwed.”

Want to be a figure of authority on the engineering scene? Here’s how to get started:

In the beginning…

Every good streaming episode, no matter the medium, starts with an idea.

Jake Ryland, host of the Becoming an Engineer YouTube channel, keeps a lengthy list of ideas, typically more than 100 at any given time, on a Google drive. If a concept hits during an outdoor run or other less convenient time for documentation, he grabs his phone to record a quick voice memo.

He also looks for inspiration in the comments posted on his videos.

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“I'll see a trend with people talking or asking about the same thing,” Ryland said. He is based in Salt Lake City and works at a manufacturing company. “That makes me think, ‘Since people are clearly interested in this, let’s start looking into it.’”

A place to record

A state-of-the-art space isn’t necessary for streaming entrepreneurs. It’s easy to make a room at home—even a basement—into a place to record, as long as you have a nice backdrop.

Size, however, does matter when it comes to audio quality.

“If you record in a studio apartment the size of a closet, it's going to sound like it,” said New York-based Rayburn, who has tested audio in various rooms of his house. Larger rooms with soft furnishings absorb more background noise.

Needed equipment

Rayburn suggests starting with a “relatively new computer” with a built-in 1080p webcam, then investing about $200 for a good microphone and around $45 for a lighting kit.

For recommendations, read reviews and talk to people who are already streaming. Test equipment over and over and over again.

Presentation

Successful streaming needs to sound smooth and organized. When it comes to video, high-quality images are just as important as zoom-in effects, scene cuts, and multiple camera angles for keeping audiences engaged, according to Ryland.

“All of that stuff is very psychological,” he said. “Nowadays people’s brains get bored really fast.”

If you’re new to editing software and don’t have time to learn how to use it—or don’t want to take the time—consider using someone more skilled.

In the early days of his 30-minute Engineering Entrepreneur Podcast, released twice a month, mechanical engineer Scott Tarcy edited his own work.

“But I’d have too many ‘um’s’ and there’d be pauses, so I paid someone else to do it,” he said. After about 90 episodes, Tracy, more experienced behind the microphone by that point, resumed the job himself.

Selecting a platform

Where to present your work? That depends on your goal.

Those trying to create and build a brand might want to direct audiences to their websites, making it easy to track metrics about followers; otherwise, producing content for a syndicated industry website, which already has traffic, may be a better option, Rayburn said.

The important thing is to be where your audience is.

Take Our Quiz: Mechanical Engineering on YouTube

According to Wyzowls eighth-annual State of Video Marketing, YouTube remains the most widely used platform for video marketers. Instagram usage as a marketing video channel grew from 60 percent in 2021 to 72 percent in 2022.

TikTok adoption, at 30 percent, has increased by 10 percent each year since 2019.

Attitude

Although Ryland writes scripts for his videos, he doesn't follow them word for word when recording so that he can sound less robotic and more genuine.

“I want the audience to relate to me as a person and not just to what I'm saying,” he said. “And depending on what I’m talking about, I like to throw in a couple things here and there to make people laugh.”

Ryland warns against feeling frustrated that only 50 percent of podcasts get more than 31 downloads, according to podcasting platform Buzzsprout.

“Place your motivation and commitment to something external and not to your subscriber count, because it’s so variable,” he said. “Instead, try to keep your videos as relevant as possible for as long as possible.”

Robin L. Flanigan is an independent writer in Rochester, N.Y.

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