Video. It’s the recurring suggestion you get to expand your business and grow your audience.
But where do you start?
Do Facebook Live, they say. Get on YouTube Live. Just go live because it’s cheaper than hiring a camera crew or renting a camera.
It may seem either very easy or so overwhelming that you don’t even know where to start.
Like most things, the truth lies somewhere in the middle, and with these five steps, you’ll own your live video process in no time.
1. Practice Watching Yourself
Do you hate me already?
The truth is that the quickest way to become better on camera is to watch yourself.
Pop open your phone or, if that scares you in the beginning, stand in front of a mirror. Take a piece of content you would like to talk about on camera and do your entire take with no breaks. Chances are early on that you’ll start to sense where you tend to drag, if you use your hands too much or how you slouch a little more than you thought.
But sit in the awkward and allow yourself to be a little uncomfortable. Those are the moments where you’ll learn the most.
Regardless of how aware you believe you are, watch yourself over and over again. There will always be new things to learn or be aware of—like how many times you say, “you know?”, you know?
A huge mistake people make when creating videos is not re-watching tape because they believe that either they don’t have places where they could improve, or there isn’t anything to learn.
Good thing you’re not one of those people.
College and pro athletes watch game tape to improve their skills. The comedian you love on YouTube absolutely re-watches every video they put out. And it makes sense that a professional like yourself would take that extra step to re-watch yourself, so you can set yourself apart from everyone else.
2. Nail Down Your Intro and Outro
Have you thought about how you want to introduce yourself or what you want people to do at the end of your video?
If the answer is no, you’re not alone. It can take some people a while to find that great tagline or opening spiel, but it can be something as simple as this:
“Hi there, I’m Amanda Polick, a content coach with Fluxe Digital Marketing. And for this video, we’ll be talking about the 5 things you need to create video content…
…Well, thank you so much for tuning in. For more content like this, make sure to like, share, and subscribe and you can also find us at fluxedigitalmarketing.com. That’s Fluxe with an ‘e.’ Thanks again, and see you next week!”
The first thing I did was to introduce myself and let people know what we’ll cover for that video. Try to keep it to one or two sentences. If you’re doing this consistently, the only thing that should change would be what topic you’re covering.
Pro tip: Stay away from saying, “today”. It’s easy to avoid the word all together, and after a while, you’ll see how unnecessary it is. More times than not, people use it as a crutch, and it’s not adding anything.
For the outro, I thanked the audience for taking the time to participate, gave them multiple calls to action plus a reminder of the company website and how to spell it, before signing off that we’d be back next week.
Whatever you do, don’t skip the outro. It’s easy to assume people will know what to do, but your audience needs some guidance. Without those calls to action, it feels like you don’t care if people find you, so why would they make an effort to actually subscribe and share your content?
3. Rehearse Your Material
This may be the step people skip even more than watching themselves.
You feel like you know the material—you talk about this topic so much that you don’t need to go over your talking points.
Even if you don’t have notes for your video (which it doesn’t hurt to think about), rehearse what you’re going to do. And that goes beyond what you’re talking about.
If you’re using props or plan on moving around, walk through your exact movements. In the theater and film world, it’s called blocking.
For example, if you’re doing a behind-the-scenes walkthrough of your office, take the time to go through the office beforehand. Are the paths clear enough for you to move easily? Would there be clients or information in the background you wouldn’t want viewers to see?
And maybe along the way, to add some personal flair, you want to stop at the kitchen and have your resident barista make their famous coffee.
What ingredients would you need? Do you have enough clean utensils or cups? Is there enough counter space to see the full process?
You won’t master every video you do, but adding these touch points in your pre-production process makes being on camera a little easier. It’ll also help you when things go wrong because they absolutely will.
Another advantage of running through your material is that it’ll give you an idea of how long a segment can take. What you think should take three minutes could look a lot more like 15 if you don’t have material and blocking laid out beforehand.
Pro tip: Some live video platforms will have a timer of how long you’ve been live so you don’t go over what your ideal time is. However, if you can’t see a timer with the platform you’re using, either have someone run time for you or keep a clock off-camera so you can track time yourself.
4. Don’t Ignore Mistakes and Mishaps
Have you ever watched a video and heard a crash or saw something fall and no one acknowledged it? Instead, your on-screen talent tried to push the segment forward because they were afraid people would notice the mistake.
Well, people definitely noticed, but now, they’re sitting there wondering what happened and aren’t listening to what their hosts are saying.
You’ve just lost your audience.
If you’re doing a live video, call out the things that you know your viewers are wondering about. Point out the sirens that keep going by, the baby screaming in the background or the phantom chirp of a smoke detector you can’t find.
Not only does this keep your audience stay engaged because you’re having a real moment, but it’s also a great opportunity to create an insider moment with your viewers.
So, that dang smoke detector won’t stop beeping. You might get a little frustrated, but every time you mention it, the people watching are right there with you. It’s an easy call back and touch point.
Bonus points if you can find a way to weave it into your segment.
Remember that office walk-through with the master barista? If you were in the kitchen, you could make a joke about how the coffee must be really hot because the smoke detector gets louder in the kitchen.
Embrace those mistakes and if you can laugh about it, whoever’s watching will probably laugh too.
5. Check-In with Your Audience
When you’re filming live video, regular check-ins with your audience captures viewers who miss the beginning of your segment. Just like when you turn the radio on in the middle of a broadcast.
So, if you’re doing a live Q&A and want people to leave their questions in the comments, you can say every few minutes or so, “And if you’re just tuning in, I’m Jan Smith, answering your questions about financial planning. Leave a question or comment below, and I’ll get to as many people as possible.”
This is also a great option for a “reset”. Forgot what your next point was or feel that you’re running out of “filler” material to get you to the next section?
Checking in with the audience is a simple and effective way to directly engage and can also create opportunities for better content.
That check-in and call for comments or questions could open up the discussion into an area you weren’t expecting. The power of connecting with your viewers in the moment is incredibly valuable, so make the most of it while you’re live.
Go forth and create.
Now that you have your five steps—watch yourself, create solid intros and outros, rehearse your material, point out mishaps and check-in with your audience—you’re ready to press the live button.
Beyond these tips, the important thing to remember is that the benefit of being on live video is that you have instant access to your audience. And while you always want to improve, any live performance can always be better and always be worse, even if you’re using the best video creation tools available.
And if you don’t feel quite ready, check out other content on making killer YouTube videos. But what matters is that you’re out there doing something, learning and improving along the way.