Hey folks, I hope today finds you doing well in the New year.
2018 - can you even believe it’s here?
So I wanted to start the year off with a comprehensive post covering 5 key tips that are valuable to every new live streamer.
Back in 2015 when I got started, I didn’t have 5 tips to go off of and I had to learn these the hard way. I don’t want you to have to learn any of this the hard way, so I’m extremely excited to share these tips with you!
Of utmost importance to any new live streamer is to look professional, sound professional, while engaging the audience in a clear, concise fashion, while telling a compelling story and/or sharing valuable educational content.
And hopefully with a little humor and/or real life stories to add context and make the live stream more enjoyable for the viewer.
Without any further commentary, let’s dive right in and talk about the 5 tips.
This may be the most important tip of all 5 of these tips.
What most of us do when we live stream, and I’m terribly guilty of this, too, is to look at the screen on whatever device we are going live on, rather than looking at the camera.
This is something we all need to be aware of no matter what device we are going live with.
You could be using a mobile phone (I use an iPhone), a tablet (I use an iPad), a camcorder, or your computer.
In the above two pictures, I'm looking at the screen on the left, and the camera on the right.
Generally speaking, the image on the right demonstrating where I should look if using my iPhone. However, I actually prefer the image on the left where I'm looking at the screen.
But on most devices, looking at the camera is always preferred. Try it with your phone and see what you get. Simply set the timer on the camera and look to both places for two pictures and see which you like better.
In the above picture, this is where I'd look if I were recording on an iPad. I'd have shown you a picture of my phone, but it was hard to see the camera in the picture. Just find the little round camera lens and focus there!
This tip doesn’t generally apply to most DSLR cameras or webcams, as most DSLR and no webcams (that I’m aware of) offer a separate screen to monitor your shot.
But with phones, tablets, and camcorders, all offer a screen that allow you to see the shot while you are live.
It is our nature as human beings to focus on the screen itself, and make eye contact with either ourselves (like looking into a mirror) or making eye contact with our guest if we have a guest on.
However, you want to be looking directly at the audience. Your audience will enjoy every aspect of your live video production if you are looking directly at them, eye to eye.
So it is imperative to look directly at the camera lens on whichever device is capturing your live video content.
On my iPhone and my iPads, that camera lens is towards the top of the device - a little circle that holds the lens. Looking directly at that little circle is where you want to look if you are using the same or similar device to go live.
On my Canon camcorder, it’s tricky. See the picture above.
There are actually two lenses (maybe even three) on my camcorder and for those of you using a similar device, knowing which lens is key to looking into the appropriate lens.
Believe me, it’s very difficult to focus on a small little lens when you have so much more that is fun to look at. The eye is naturally attracted to the screen, which shows a dynamic picture, and is much more enjoyable to look at than a little black circle holding a lens.
However, your live video productions will be much more professional when you look directly at the lens - which means you’re looking directly at the viewer.
Now, if you are wanting to also monitor the comments, you are presented with another problem, as to monitor the comments you’ll have to look away from the lens, usually below it.
In that case you just have to train yourself to go back and forth between the lens and the comments. Your audience will completely understand what you are doing and by doing both you are giving your audience a much better live stream broadcast.
Again, this isn’t easy and is quite difficult. But it’s imperative to bounce back and forth between the lens and the comments when monitoring the comments, and focusing on the lens when you are conducting a broadcast when focusing on comments isn’t crucial.
Feel free to browse my videos on YouTube and/or on my Facebook page to see examples of where I clearly fail to focus on the lens, and compare those videos to where I’m actually mindful of focusing on the lens.
I think you’ll find me breaking this rule more often than not, as I still struggle with this problem to this day.
This tip isn’t as hard to keep in mind for the seasoned broadcaster, but it’s harder to remember when you are new at going live.
There are a number of reasons you want to start talking right when you go live, and some of them may not be very obvious to the new live streamer.
First, the reality is that most of your views are going to be in replay. What I mean by this is, most people who view your live video content won’t be viewing it in real time. They’ll be watching it after the live has ended and they are watching it when they have time to watch it.
Second, most live broadcasts to platforms like Facebook, Periscope, Instagram Live, and YouTube, don’t have any way for you to go back and edit the video to trim off the part of the broadcast where you’re “getting ready” to talk. That, or it is burdensome to go back and trim it later, if the platform allows for post-production edits.
It’s much better to record live what you will want to remain after you log out of your broadcast, in order to eliminate any time it might take to edit your production after the fact.
Keep in mind that live video is a new thing and is ever changing. This means that many platforms might offer up easy ways to trim the video after the fact. Still, getting it right on the first take saves you tons of time and makes creating content easier.
So here’s what I like to do when I go live to ensure that I get things moving right out of the gate.
First, I don’t hit the ‘go live’ button(s) until I’m truly ready to go live, and ready to start talking.
This is easy to do with platforms like Instagram Live, where, when you go live, you pretty much go live right away. Same when you are broadcasting to Facebook, YouTube, or Periscope exclusively.
But if you are live streaming to multiple platforms, there is more involved.
Let’s say you are using two iPads and a mobile phone, and you intend to go live on Facebook, YouTube, and Periscope.
Or, let’s say you are using one device (like I usually do) to send a signal to multiple places.
Well, in the case of multiple devices, you don’t have 3 hands, and even if you did, hitting the ‘live’ button on all three at the same time isn’t easy.
In the situation with either multiple devices or one device streaming to multiple venues, you have platform response times to consider.
For instance, Facebook might take 2 to 5 seconds before the platform tells you that you are live. YouTube might take the same. Instagram might be virtually spontaneous, same with Periscope.
And these start times might vary depending on other factors on the internet that you have no control over. And, you might have one service being difficult with connecting.
Being mindful of all of this, I usually greet people on the first platform I know is live, informing the audience (mainly the replay viewer, as you likely don’t have any live viewers yet) that I’m going live on multiple platforms and that the show will start momentarily once I confirm that all platforms are live and responsive.
I then welcome replay viewers on the second platform, the third platform, and so on.
I repeat my welcome over and over as the other platforms respond, with small chit chat about how my day is going and perhaps a teaser comment or two about what awaits the viewer if they stick around for the broadcast.
Once I know I’m live on all platforms, I then go right into my broadcast and I thank the viewers for their patience while I was getting everything up and running.
More often than not, these few moments where I’m making sure everything is live and all platforms are being responsive, add up to maybe a minute or two.
What you have to realize is that you may only have a minute or two to keep a viewer with you as you get everything fired up and running.
So being fun, amusing, and letting the audience know what is going on and what is coming up is key to keeping them there through the ‘housekeeping’ phase of getting everything up and running.
The point of live video as a marketer is to make direct connections with people who consume your content. Period.
If you can make a connection, you stand a better chance at keeping people with you for a longer duration of your broadcast.
And it’s terribly difficult to keep people engaged and with you for the length of your broadcast. Sad, but true.
So this tip, to live up to it, requires dedication and practice to build your skill as a live streamer.
If you can keep people interested, you greatly increase the chance that your live broadcast will be a successful broadcast.
Quite honestly, I’m not sure about success rates in keeping people with you when you have this skill down and you address people directly as they come into your broadcast.
Still, it is human nature to enjoy being ‘called out’ during a broadcast - acknowledged for having shown up.
Because people find it appealing to be acknowledged, you want to acknowledge them when you can, as often as you can.
I say ‘when you can’ because it’s not always an opportune time to call someone out.
For instance, if you are totally engaged in discussion and you are a few minutes into your broadcast, you may find it distracting to call out each and every person coming into your broadcast and/or addressing their comments.
But in the beginning of your broadcast - the first few minutes, you might want to make it customary to conduct some loose, conversational chit chat with the audience so it’s not too distracting to call people out and thank them for joining you.
If you know them personally, or they aren’t totally random to you, you might even converse for a moment directly to them, like, ‘hey, great to see you again’ or something along those lines.
Welcoming comments could be a shoutout, like ‘hey so-and-so’, thanks for joining me today. Something easy that allows you to call them out, welcome them, and thanking them for attending, but in a fashion that allows you to quickly move on.
As you get deeper into your broadcast, you might do less and less welcoming and thanking, and perhaps every few minutes you do a generalized shout out to those who joined while you are engaged in the meat of the discussion.
Answering direct questions and addressing comments in real time is a little tricker, as people often ask question or make comments that are not related in any way to what you are talking about.
Address those in a case-by-case basis.
And, you can always not address them at all in real time, but go back and address them later.
It’s a lot to keep track of, but as you hone your skills as a broadcaster, these situations will get easier and easier.
Keep in mind that maintaining the attention of your audience is not easy, so anything you can do to increase the chances that they will remain with you is essential to every live broadcast.
You want to speak very clearly to your audience. No garbled words. No getting tripped up, if you can help it.
But it’s live. You will garble words, and you will get tripped up.
Still, maintaining focus on speaking clearly and concisely will pay dividends when it comes to maintaining the attention of your audience.
When I go live, I love to conduct my presentations in a conversational style. For the most part, I try to pretend I’m with one person (even when I’m not), speaking directly to them as though we had met for lunch or were chatting over a coffee or a beer.
When you go conversational, the broadcast will be more fun and comfortable to the viewer.
Still, when you go conversational, it’s very easy to get off-topic, running along some tangent that really gets you off course.
That sort of conversation has value, but it also can get you tripped up and off topic, even to the extent that you lose track of the point you were trying to make.
I do this all the time.
It’s no big deal, but you want to keep such conversation to a minimum for a variety of reasons.
Not only do you not want to trip yourself up and lose your focus, but you want to really focus on the length of your broadcast.
Again, your goal is to be clear and concise. When you steer off course, minutes turn into big chunks of time real quick. These chunks of time are often periods where you lose viewers.
So be mindful when this occurs, and right your sails whenever you realize you are steering off course.
Whatever you are talking about, whether it is truly telling a story, or perhaps teaching something valuable to people in your niche, focus on the story.
What can you talk about that is relatable to your audience? And when you are talking about or teaching something of value to your audience, how can you do so in a relatable fashion?
When people can relate to what you are talking about, they maintain interest. Indeed, they even oftentimes have their curiosity piqued.
When you are providing relatable content, you are bringing people into the story. They can sympathize with you. They can understand better what you are telling them because they can see themselves in the same situation.
So by including asides, or personal anecdotes, you are providing context to whatever it is you are talking about, along with relatable slices of life that allow others to understand you or what you are teaching better.
I do this all the time. In fact, because I tend to focus all of my live broadcasts (and podcasts, too) on subjects that I know first-hand, it’s easy for me to provide this crucial content so as to make a connection with the audience.
You can ask questions like “Have you ever…” or “Don’t you just hate it when…” There are hundreds of ways you can start your story by asking a question to the audience. Questions like this work as a trigger to pique curiosity and bring people into the story. You’re basically asking them to try to understand your situation.
And in many cases, they will completely understand your situation. When they can relate, it builds trust.
So being sure to weave personal stories and situations into your presentation, no matter the focus of the content, is a sure bet that you’ll increase view times, engagement rates, and make the broadcast much more valuable and enjoyable to the viewer.
Believe me, I could write a book on ‘tips’ for the beginning live streamer. In fact, there is no ‘beginning’ to it.
These tips are valuable to all live streamers, whether they are seasoned or not!
This is because we all fail to maintain perfection in our live streams.
There will be no perfect live stream.
But being mindful of these 5 basic considerations will greatly enhance the quality and success of your live stream.
That I know.
I’m so happy you made it to the end and I’d be delighted to hear from you. Be sure to leave a comment below with your thoughts on any of the above, or if you’d like to add anything that I didn’t cover.
If you enjoyed this blog post, perhaps you'd enjoy my daily podcast 'Entrepreneur Live Video.' On this podcast, I discuss, daily, topics that are relevant to live stream professionals and aspiring live stream professionals. I hope you'll join me!
Oh, and here is a video that I created live in my Slam Dunk Studio. I sent the signal to my Facebook, YouTube, and Periscope channels. Enjoy!
Until next time!