Periscope, Blab, and Meerkat have brought fresh attention to live-streaming, even though similar technologies have existed for years. But live-streaming well requires a bit more work.
These tips will apply regardless of what technology you use—Periscope, Blab, Meerkat, YouTube Live, Google+ Hangouts on Air, or any other tool.
1. Have good reasons to go live
New tools like Blab and Periscope can seem like fun toys, but remember that they're only tools. As such, they may enable or simplify your ability to connect with people in a particular way.
Before you jump into live-streaming, have some good reasons to do so. Here are some examples.
- Offer live interaction.
- Host an event immediately following a timed event.
- Hold yourself accountable to produce new content by a specific time.
- Give your audience a place to interact with each other around your content.
2. Become a better host
A tool is only as good as the one using it. Many live-streaming tools allow almost anyone to reach an audience in real time. But live-streaming requires a whole new level of hosting skills you wouldn't normally exercising in offline recording.
- Avoiding distractions
- Presenting clearly the first time
- And more
If you watch live-streams, you'll often see poor hosting skills—people talking over each other, derailing the conversation, not having any structure, and more.
Yes, this stuff happens in normal conversations. But live-streaming technologies can make this kind of experience worse due to half-duplexing (one person's audio cancels out someone else's), lack of physical sound direction (voices are mixed between left and right), and more.
3. Focus on your content
Most likely, you're live-streaming to share a message or participate in a conversation. Thus, don't get distracted by the live-streaming tool.
On social live-streaming platforms (like Blab, Periscope, and Meerkat), viewers can provide real-time feedback with comments or simple reactions (hearts, likes, props, etc.). It's okay to acknowledge that, but don't let it distract you from the content you're there to share.
During your recording, it's also important to smoothly excuse or work through live problems. It can be easy to start talking about the production instead of the message.
4. Speak to your primary audience
As much as the latest social-media tools often seem to be the Internet's newest crush, it's likely that the live viewers still represent a very small portion of your live audience.
If you live-stream while recording your podcast, most of your audience will not see the chat, the reactions, or maybe not even see what you're showing in the video.
Because of this, you may need to describe visual things instead of merely showing them. Also, focusing too much on your smaller live audience can significantly alienate your time-shifted audience.
5. Learn how to use the right tools
Blab, Periscope, Meerkat, YouTube Live (with or without Google+ Hangouts on Air), and whatever other live-streaming tools come out all have something unique and might have some technology quirks. It could be video orientation, the proper way to connect your mic and camera, the flow and display of comments, or anything else.
It's also important to know which tool is the right tool for you, your show, and your audience. If you don't have a good Internet connection, live video is probably not right for you. If you don't need audience interaction for your show, the live-streaming might not be for you. Or if your audience isn't tech-savvy, then you might need to use something simpler.
6. Include your live audience intentionally
Some live-streaming platforms focus more on interaction than others. Blab, for example, makes it easy for anyone to join the conversation.
Whether it be with comments, inviting a participant, or any other method for including your audience, don't merely let it happen and interrupt your message. Be intentional about how you incorporate the responses.
Also be cautious with whom you let participate in a live event. For example, laws in some countries (such as the USA) might prohibit allowing any child under 13 years old to participate in any kind of social network. Also, be discerning to prevent one particular person from dominating the conversation.
A common trick would be to avoid allowing anyone into your conversation when you see them start watching and immediate requesting to join.
7. Plan for repurposing
Although you may intend to record only your audio podcast, you might have content you could repurpose in other ways. Perhaps you leave the recording in that tool's profile, or you upload it to YouTube or Facebook, or you could edit short snippets and share anywhere.
This kind of repurposing could enable you to reach a new audience or provide better ways for your existing audience to engage with some of your content.
8. Ensure quality audio
The most important production-quality point for video is actually the audio quality. You may not be able to control the audio quality of your live participants, but you should ensure that your audio is as good as it can be.
This is probably easy for you if you're live-streaming from your computer. But if you live-stream from a mobile device, you might want to consider one of the following options.
- 3.5 mm TRRS to split RCA cable and 3 RCA to 1/4″ adapters. Use these to connect your mixer's output to a mobile device's input (via the yellow line) and the mobile device's stereo output (via the red and white lines) to the mixer's input (if necessary).
- TRRS lav microphone, like the RØDE SmartLav+ or Shure MVL (review coming soon). These work on iOS, Android, and Windows Phone devices and are great for simple live-streaming from your phone.
- Digitally connected microphone, like the Sennheiser ClipMic Digital or MKE-2 Digital “Lighting lavs.”
- Analog or digital mic interface, like the IK Multimedia iRig PRE (any mobile device) or iRig PRO (iOS) for connecting any XLR mic to mobile devices, or a Apple Lightning to USB Camera Adapter for connecting a USB mic to iOS.
9. Light yourself well
After audio quality, the second most-important thing about video is the lighting (not the camera itself). Good lighting can make even a cheap webcam's video look great!
You don't have to buy a lighting kit (even though you can get a lot of light for under $200). You could get great results simply by being near sunlight coming through a window, or putting lamps in front of you instead of behind you.
10. Promote your own platform, not someone else's
This is one of my pet peeves, but it's especially important in this age where technologies come and go quite quickly.
Promote your platform first. You do this by pointing people to your website for your content. Even if you use a non-embeddable tool, you can serve your audience better by creating a redirect from your domain.
For example, MyAwesomePodcast.com/live could point to Blab, Meerkat, a Google+ Hangouts on Air event page, or even your own page with a YouTube Live (with or without Google+ Hangouts on Air) or other live video and chat embedded on it.
If you don't do this, you risk losing your audience if you ever have to switch tools.
The most important thing to remember here is that all of these cool new or innovated technologies are only tools. They are not your platform in themselves. You may use Periscope today, but Blab tomorrow. But your platform, such as your own website, is the best way to ensure everyone can always connect with you, regardless of the technologies you choose.
Thank you for the podcast reviews!
- Sakki.net from Norway said (roughly translated), “Incredibly detailed program on all aspects of creating a podcast. … D.J.Lewis … is not afraid to take the time to use and look at each topic from all possible angles. When he gives tips, he also always explains why this is a good tip.” Read the full, untranslated review.
- Jon Baca from USA said, “Daniel really focuses on tips and advice that anyone can use themselves to improve their own podcast, and I really appreciate the research that goes into making these episodes. Unlike a lot of the how to podcast shows, Daniel has been at this for quite a while, and for me he is a very credible source of info and opinions.” Read the full review.
- Come watch my FREE webinar with Mignon Fogarty (AKA “Grammar Girl”) on Thursday, September 24. This is a Podcasters' Society webinar that is open to the public for live-viewing and a 36-hour replay. Podcasters' Society will also be open to new members during those 36 hours.
- Celebrate International Podcast Day on September 30!
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