Live streaming has become an essential part of engaging with our online communities, but this is uncharted territory for some and has created plenty of room for improvement. Here are some things to prepare before going live
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The online migration catalysed by the lockdown has seen a rapid increase in live streams on social media platforms. Some accounts have been purely for entertainment while some have had insightful conversations about self-improvement in isolation. Even so, some streams have had many missteps that cannot be undone because they were live. These vary, but to list a few: hosts not knowing what to do while waiting for their guests, winging the session, alienating the audience, and the list goes on. Although live streams can be spontaneous or planned, their casual nature doesn’t mean that you can’t host a kickass stream.
Three creatives with broadcasting experience share their tips on how to master live streams: Marketing and events creative, brand strategist and entrepreneur, Tsakane Ndubane; founder of Soon.Agency, a brand and content hub, Eric Says; and social media manager and influencer marketer, Pamela Mtanga share their do’s and don’ts of live streams.
What to do before the live stream
Ndubane says her personal building blocks for a solid social media foundation are three E’s – educate, engage and entertain. When preparing for a live stream, she says that having an objective for the stream is the first step. Are you introducing someone to your audience who might not be on their radar? Are you empowering your audience with new information or are you simply getting to know someone?
“You’ve heard it a million times ‘content is key’; but content with context is vital. Know what to say, when and how,” Ndubane says. Mtanga adds that you should research as much as possible about your guest as well as the work that they’ve done, “this information] makes for good stalling points.” Says suggests partitioning the content according to time and themes. “The basics of storytelling give us an intro, body and conclusion, the same applies to a typical live stream,” he says.
Mtanga says it’s also important that you write down your questions and have them in an order that will create a smooth flow of conversation.
In some instances, the host and the guest don’t know each other or may be acquaintances, either way Mtanga says the host should call the guest before the live session to establish some familiarity before the interview. She adds that while personalities differ, the introduction helps the interviewee “know your personality beyond social media/emails, establish boundaries and that they know what to expect from the interview”. Mtanga adds that this also gives the guest an opportunity to ask you not to speak about certain subjects; or ask about their controversies; or ask for the opportunity to clarify certain elements of the interview.
Considering that not everyone has experience with interviews, Ndubane suggests that you rehearse – depending on your guest’s experience. “Practice your introduction, questions, talk – this will also help if you’re not familiar with one another,” she advises.
“Test your equipment and make sure that it’s in good working condition – batteries are charged, lights are working, set up is well lit and clean; props and furniture must not be cluttered,” Ndubane says. Mtanga adds that if you don’t live alone, you should make people in the house aware that you’re on a live stream.
Network connection is the most important aspect of the session and Ndubane agrees, emphasising that you triple check your internet or Wi-Fi connection. Even so, sometimes technical glitches still occur, and you’re forced to improvise. Mtanga suggests that you call your guest ahead of time to notify them that you’re about to start and check whether or not they’re experiencing difficulties, or need a bit of time to buy data bundles – it’s important to know how long you’ll be stalling for. “Another helpful is tip is having someone to help you track how far your guest is; or play music and make your audience aware of what the delay is,” she says.
Background music – if any make sure it’s soft and radio edit and doesn’t overpower the main purpose of the live video even if it’s a live workout session.
Mtanga says, “start the live by introducing your guest and why the live is necessary.” She advises that you can use the day’s topical news and news that’s relevant to the stream while you wait. “The more you talk about things that people know, the more they feel like they can engage. You can also make conversation out of how you and guest met; remember to mention how far your guest is. If you’re chatting to an artist, just play their music and mention fun facts about them,” she says.
“Promote the live event well in advance on multiple channels. On Facebook use the event feature to create the event and have event details, times etc.,” Ndubane says. She adds that promotional videos introducing your topic or guests add value to your live session. Ndubane also says, “do countdown posts that serve as reminders and increase excitement for the live; also educate on the topic or the featured guest/s.”