Getting Ready to Stream
Now that you’re familiar with your live streaming options, you may be tempted to turn on your phone or webcam and start recording. But don’t make this mistake or you might regret.
It’s better to take some time and prepare your environment before you begin streaming. The right environment can make a difference between viewers that leave after a few minutes and ones that stay for the entire video.
The most important part of your environment is your lighting. If you’re in a brightly lit area with too much direct sunlight, you may appear washed out. If you’re in a room that’s too dark, it may be difficult for viewers to see you.
So, before you record, take a few selfies. Check the lighting in the selfie. Is it easy to see yourself or do you have to squint? When you take your selfies, you should also check for glare. For example, you may think you look great in your sunglasses but if they’re presenting a glare, you may need to remove them or adjust your position so they’re not distracting your audience.
After you’ve corrected any lighting problems, test your sound. If possible, create a voice memo on your phone and talk like you regularly would for a minute. Then listen to your recording. Is there a lot of background noise making it hard for you to be heard clearly? Is there a troubling echo that makes you sound like you’re in a tunnel?
If background noise is an issue, try moving to another location for your video. If there’s an echo, try adding rugs to the floor and put towels under your doors and near windows. The linens will absorb sound and soften it, creating less of an echo.
Now, you want to consider the background that your viewers will be seeing. If you’ll be in your home office, make sure the background is free of clutter like stacks of books, distracting decorations, or eye-catching artwork.
This doesn’t mean your background must be sterile. It’s fine to have a bookshelf with your favorite books on it, just make sure what’s seen is neat and organized so it doesn’t call attention away from your message.
Finally, don’t forget to consider what you’ll wear during a live video. Try to avoid clothing with loud graphics or text on them. Think of your video like a job interview. If you’d wear the outfit when seeking a potential employer, then it’s probably acceptable for your video.
Be careful about the jewelry and accessories you choose to wear, too. A sparkly necklace might be beautiful but if it catches in the light, it can distract your viewers. If you move your hands a lot, then wearing bangle bracelets will also make it hard for your visitors to focus. There’s nothing wrong with wearing jewelry or accessories in your videos. Just pick them strategically.
How to Find Topics for Live Streaming
One of the hardest parts of creating a live stream is knowing what to say. You don’t want to start a broadcast just for the sake of streaming. You’ll likely ramble and risk boring viewers or you may say things you don’t really mean that end up damaging your brand in the long-term.
That’s why it’s smart to think about what you want to say before you go live. This doesn’t mean you have to write out every single word and rehearse it 30 times before you start streaming. It just means that you have an outline, a basic idea of where you want to go before you start the journey.
The best place to begin seeking ideas is in your niche groups. You can do this by creating a poll in your Facebook group. Ask your members what topics they want to know more about. Give them several possible choices and see which ones are the most popular.
You can also start a sentence and ask members to finish the sentence. For example, if you sell yarn to crafters, you might post: “The thing I really could use help on when it comes to my knitting is…”
Use the answers to come up with topics. If one of your members shares that she could use help learning how to make different stitches, then you could do a broadcast where you recommend a stitch dictionary or other resource. Topics like these might seem simple but they can be very effective because you’re tapping into a real need for your audience.
Another way to find content ideas is to look at your blog or website. Study your analytics or metrics and see which posts on your site get the most traffic. Do you have a post on the 5 Worst Mistakes that Writers Make on Twitter?
You can take this content and use it on your broadcast. Don’t read out what the post says word-for-word but do share the main points again. Weave in new stories, add extra details, and let your audience know you’re there to serve them.
Some entrepreneurs have also re-purposed short reports and eBooks. Depending on the length, you may even have enough content for a whole series on one topic.
For example, if you have an 8-chapter eBook on web design for newbies, then create eight live streams. Each broadcast is devoted to studying a chapter. You can even invite your viewers to download your eBook so they can follow along.
Don’t get caught up in the trap of thinking that your broadcast content must be perfect or earth-shattering. Sometimes, the most popular content is stuff you consider pretty basic (like the stich dictionary or Twitter mistakes).
Create Engaging Live Content
When it comes to creating broadcasts, try to identify the purpose of your stream before you go live. This can guide you as you create content and engage with your viewers. For example, some common reasons brands and businesses live stream include:
- Growing their mailing list
- Educating their community
- Getting the word out about a new product
- Connecting with their community
- Promoting a product as an affiliate
Keep in mind that there’s no right or wrong reason to broadcast. But you do need a clear goalbecause it helps you shape your ideas. For example, a stream where your purpose is to grow your mailing list is going to be different from a stream where you’re promoting an affiliate product.
One of the best ways to make your content engaging is to tell stories during your broadcast. People love hearing stories because they can relate to them. They add an element of humanity to your brand.
But the stories must be relevant to your topic. If your live stream is about how to become more productive and you start telling a story about your cat, you’re going to lose viewers and engagement rates will drop. So, stay on topic when you talk.
You can show off your personality in your streams. But keep in mind what your brand represents. If you have a brand that’s upbeat and funny, then you want to be upbeat and funny in your videos.
But if your brand is serious and informative, then don’t crack jokes the entire time you’re broadcasting. Your viewers will be disappointed by the difference between the content they normally get from you and how you behaved on video.