How to Set Yourself Up for Livestreaming Success

Does the thought of going live give you the heebie-jeebies? Don’t worry, it’s easy to get started.

Courtney Lefferts

Creative

Chris Lavigne

Creative


From your favorite sports teams and big brands to your second cousin Carol (and her dancing cats), it feels like everyone is getting on the live-stream bandwagon — and it’s for good reason. According to MarTech more than 360 million users watch live videos regularly on Facebook alone. And when you add another 200 million from Instagram, and a couple more million users from sites like Twitch and YouTube — holy moly! — that’s a whole lot of people. With audience sizes this big, it’s understandable why more and more businesses are scratching that livestreaming itch.

“With audience sizes this big, it’s understandable why more and more businesses are scratching that livestreaming itch.”

But let’s face it — it can be nerve-wracking to jump into something so candid and unpredictable! So, to help make live streaming less of a headache (and a lot more fun) I chatted with Wistia’s very own Principal Video Producer, Chris Lavigne, and we came up with some helpful tips to send you straight into stream-land.

Define your purpose

As basic as it might seem, it’s a good idea to map out your purpose and come up with your content before you take any action. If you’re not sure if you have something of value to offer your audience in a livestream, it’s not the worst thing in the world to stick to scripted, curated video communication. (In fact, we think it’s a pretty great way to get your message across.) Plus, going live is asking a lot of your audience, and you want to make sure your business has a reason to do it before you dive in.

Danielle Question

When it comes to your content, you might try streaming a webinar, a Q&A about your product or service, or even a live event. Just keep in mind that it’s all, well … live! And your audience knows that. So, now’s the time to put the script away and lean into the casual nature of a live video. Just because you won’t have a script doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to totally wing it (unless you’re used to that, of course).

To give yourself a bit of confidence and to help you stay on track, make a bulleted list of talking points beforehand you go live. That way, you can still keep the tone conversational, but you won’t be lost if you need a little bit of help along the way. Another tip that Chris shared was to split your content between two people and get yourself a co-host! When you have someone else to lean on, it can really make the whole process less nerve-wracking — and a lot more fun!

Here’s a Facebook Live video our video producers, Chris and Trevor, made for Video Marketing Week!

Pick a platform

With your purpose and content in mind, it’s time to figure out what platform you want to use. First, find out where your audience is spending the most time online. Are they on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter — or somewhere else entirely? As you start your research, here are some pros and cons to keep in mind about some of the most popular platforms (as adapted form this Content Marketing Institute article):

Facebook Live

Pros
Larger audience potential
Built-in analytics
Retargeting capabilities
Co-broadcasting options
Notifications to all of your followers
Available on your computer or your phone
Cons
Little control over advertising

Instagram Stories

Pros
Notifications to all of your followers
Ability to save to your highlights
Unable to stream from your computer
Co-broadcasting options
Cons
Only available for 24 hours, unless you add to your Story highlights

YouTube Live

Pros
SEO benefits
More customization
360 video
Streaming from your computer/phone
Cons
Employers are likely to block the site
No notifications to your audience

Periscope

Pros
Owned by Twitter
Easy to use
360 video
Cons
Limited creative control
Only available on phones

Twitch

Pros
Suited for gaming and sports
Skews toward a specific demographic
Available on your computer or your phone
Cons
Skews toward a specific demographic
Audience can be harsh and hard-to-please
Tip
There’s a lot to consider when you’re picking your platform. So, don’t be afraid to try a couple of options before you decide on which one works best for your business.

Get your tech in order

To make sure your stream goes off without a hitch, there are a couple of things you want to keep in mind!

iPhone

Internet connection

First, let’s start with your Internet connection. No one wants to hear every other word you’re saying due to a bad connection. So, if you’re streaming from your computer, go for a hard-wired Internet connection. And if you have to rely on WiFi on your phone, just be sure to test your speeds using an app like speedtest.net before you go live.

Lighting

Next, let’s talk about lighting. We’ve written a ton of content about how to light your videos like a pro. (Check out this guide to lighting on the fly or this post about making a lighting kit for cheap). But the TL;DR version of this all this content is simple — make sure you have plenty of light.

You’ll want to be sure your light source, like a window, is in front of you — not behind you. And if you don’t have access to window light, or a lighting setup, as Chris says in this article, “Avoid shooting under overhead lighting. This type of lighting creates ‘raccoon eye’ shadowing, which isn’t very flattering.” To avoid this type of effect, move over (even just one foot) to lessen the shadows cast from overhead.

Audio

If you’re using your cell phone to live stream, your audio could be hit or miss (the microphones on most cell phones aren’t that great for getting clear, crisp audio). That in mind, the easiest way to make sure your stream sounds good is to use an external microphone designed for cell phones, like the Rode VideoMic Me or the Blue Raspberry. On the flip side, if you’re going to be live streaming from your computer, we recommend external USB mics like the Blue Yeti or the Blue Snowball to get the best audio.

Appearance

As you’re getting set up, it’s important to make sure you’re not making your audience seasick with a shaky hand. One way to easily avoid this is to use a cell phone tripod (like this Arkon one). To get a good angle, grab a friend to help you set up the shot with the camera at your eyeline or slightly above. You’ll also want to position yourself a good distance away from the screen and leave a bit of space above your head in the shot.

Next, when it comes to your wardrobe, it’s best to wear solid colors (sorry, polka dots, you gotta go). And it might seem obvious, but to make sure you look comfortable on camera, wear something you’re comfortable in that’s appropriate for the occasion! Then, make sure there’s nothing super distracting happening in the background so your audience knows what to focus on. Finally, take a deep breath, pull your hands out of your pockets, loosen up that smile, and let your authentic self shine!

Action Item
For more tips on how to look your best on camera, check out this post and learn six quick tips for looking and feeling your best.

Set the scene

If you’re going live in your office, or somewhere in public, try to limit distractions as much as possible. Communicate to the people around you that you’ll be going live, and put up a sign for extra reinforcement. If you can’t find a quiet spot in the office, you might have to venture to somewhere less distracting.

Now, when it comes to setting up your background (the literal scene), you might consider displaying your logo somewhere in the shot (on your shirt, as a prop, or in the background).

Wistia

As people join in at random times throughout the live stream, it’s a good idea to make your brand visible for context. It also doesn’t hurt to talk about who you are and remind your audience throughout the stream of what you’re discussing.

Do a run-through

Before your scheduled event, it’s best to do a couple of run-throughs to get nice and comfortable. Then, once you’re confident delivering your content off camera, use a fake or personal account to do a live stream tech run-through. That way, you’ll get the feel for streaming (from your light and audio to your wardrobe and timing) without the added pressure of an audience.

Keep in mind that if you’re live streaming your screen during a webinar or other event, sharing anything full-screen means you won’t be able to see your notes. So, you’ll want to have another monitor handy — or have notes on your phone for easy reference (with no paper page-turning sounds). Finally, have someone on your team tee up some questions and answers so you have some fodder in case audience engagement is a little sparse.

“Have someone on your team tee up some questions and answers so you have some fodder in case audience engagement is a little sparse.”

Promote your livestream

Speaking of your audience, one of the best ways to get them interested in your livestream is to tap into their curiosity. One great way to do that is hosting (and promoting) a live Q&A. Live Q&As are great because you can show your audience that you’re truly interested in their questions and that you care about connecting with them.

In addition to letting folks know that you’ll have a live Q&A, you’ll want to do some more preparation beforehand to ensure people show up! You can do a couple of things to help promote the event, from creating a video trailer, drafting a teaser blog post, posting on social media, or even paying for some social ads. No matter what you do, just remember to include the date and time that you want people to tune in.

Go for it

You’ve got this! It’s time to go live. All you need to do is go for it and enjoy the experience. Oh, and remember, once you’re live, give your audience 10 minutes to fill the “room” before you get started. You can fill that time with some chatter with your co-host, a countdown, or even some snazzy music.

Goforit

Reuse your content

Once you’ve gone live (you did it!), let out a sweet sigh of relief, and then don’t let your live moment die. Dramatics aside, if your platform allows for it, download your video to use it again. When you download your live videos and upload them to Wistia, they can live on and help drive traffic long after the live stream is over.

“When you download your live videos and upload them to Wistia, they can live on and help drive traffic long after the live stream is over.”

We got a ton of questions about why we took on a round of debt funding. So, our Co-founders did a live Q&A and uploaded it to Wistia so others could view it in the future!

Oh, and don’t forget! To ensure your content doesn’t get lost in the shuffle, let your audience know that it’ll be available later and then let them know where they can access it, whether that’s on your website, Instagram highlights, or somewhere else.

Still shakin’ in your livestreaming boots? Let us know what part of the process is the most nerve-wracking in the comments, and we’ll do our best to help you get over your fears!

Courtney Lefferts

Creative

Chris Lavigne

Creative

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