For entrepreneurs and businesses positioning themselves as thought-leaders is always vital. Thanks to digital marketing, social media, and other online instruments, it is a lot easier to develop a strong thought-leadership and expert brand today than it has ever been.
With events and gatherings now being cancelled, appearing offline may no longer be an option. Rather than taking the risk and not getting the desired results, you should consider starting a series of live sessions online.
Now, many entrepreneurs, industry experts and professionals are turning to YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram to communicate with the audience through live sessions. They are also rolling out text 1-2-1 chats, zoom meetings and more to get their brand and their message across – and to service their markets, prospects and more.
Live streaming was already becoming the bedrock of e-education, life coaching and more before the global pandemic. Now that move has been hastened and we are on the cusp of a revolution in terms of how businesses, analysts, consultants, educators and more are going to interact with their audiences.
So, to help you do make this work in the lockdown, here are some top tips and tricks on starting your own live streaming sessions.
Master the art of coaching
One of the first things to understand about sharing through live streaming sessions is that you have to offer value to the audience. As mentioned before, anyone can host their own live sessions, and the way to set yourself apart from the rest of the field is by offering real value to the audience.
The content you deliver is just as important as how you deliver it. Knowing how to provide coaching in an effective way – especially through online channels – becomes crucially important. You can read this article about coaching from the University of Exeter to get started.
Live streams are very similar to online courses. Lecturers communicate with their students via video conferencing. The online learning ecosystem allows professionals and business owners to pursue higher degrees without attending offline classes.
You can learn a lot from the way these online courses are conducted and how lecturers present their course materials. You will find that additional elements such as graphics, real-time interactions, and the video of the lecturer itself can be very helpful.
Cover the basics
That actually brings us to the next tip: get the execution right by covering the basics. Live streaming is not as complicated as it used to. As long as you have a webcam, you can stream to platforms like YouTube in real-time. That said, there are extra steps you can take to stream better.
For starters, you may not want to use a webcam unless it is robust enough. The usual laptop webcam is positioned too low to get a good angle. Dedicated webcams have their issues too. If you have a mirrorless camera, it is much better to use it as your main camera than any webcam on the market.
Audio is the next thing to tackle. Never rely on the built-in microphone of your laptop; at the very least, you want to use the headset that comes with your phone to capture better audio. You can also consider investing in a Bluetooth earpiece or a dedicated microphone for your computer.
Lastly, invest in good lighting. Good lighting significantly increases the production value of your live streams. The audience will get a good feed and they can focus more on your content. Besides, good visuals allow you to capture the audience’s attention for longer.
Use graphics to your advantage
Most streaming platforms let you share your desktop screen or a specific window, so you know you can present your materials better regardless of the platform you use. Tools like Wirecast and OBS (this one is free!) also let you share more content.
To add production value, use graphics that are relevant to the topics you discuss. Adding a chart when talking about market data or sales growth is a great way to keep the audience interested. You can integrate the chart as a floating graphic or as a shared screen.
You also have the option to go a step further and create animations to be played during the live stream. For instance, you can bridge the gap between segments of the stream with a bumper video or an animated transition.
These are simple elements to add, but they are the kind of elements that set you apart from the competition. Just don’t overdo it; while graphics are good for your stream, too many distracting graphics will only annoy the viewers.
Solo live streaming sessions are great, but live streams can be even better when you have guests or collaborate with fellow entrepreneurs and professionals. You can co-host a session and expand each other’s reach significantly.
Most platforms don’t support multiple streams directly, but that doesn’t mean you cannot do it in a simple way. You can use OBS to capture feed from video conferencing apps like Zoom.us or Skype, and then configure the software to stream to YouTube directly.
Collaboration is the key to making your live streams sustainable. You are basically building your audience base and connecting with other industry players at the same time. Stick to topics that are interesting to both audience segments to amplify the effect further.
As an added bonus, go on others’ live streaming sessions as a guest. You don’t always have to be the host to boost your profile. Becoming a guest in a well-known live stream is a fantastic way to introduce your own live stream or program to more people.
Last but certainly not least, stop wasting time thinking about starting a live stream and actually host your first session. You may not get thousands of viewers immediately, you will not have the perfect format, and your visuals will not be exceptional, but it’s your first stream!
However, starting is an important first step. You will learn from your mistakes and future streams will be a lot better. The more you stream, the easier it will be. Seeing your audience base grow will also keep you motivated as you improve your live streaming sessions.
What live streaming can be used for
In the current climate, live streaming is proving to be incredibly useful. Instead of visiting your doctor’s surgery in person, you can connect via a live streaming service and enjoy a virtual consultation. Many brands have realised the benefits of offering live streaming helplines where customers can connect to an expert or customer service adviser almost immediately.
HR departments are using live streaming to screen prospective candidates for new positions and interview people already in the recruitment pipeline. It’s a cost-effective way to deal with all aspects of recruitment, from initial interviews to the on-boarding process.
Live streaming can be used across most industries. For example, coaching is a key area. Fitness trainers, wellness counsellors, psychotherapists, and other people in the health and wellness industry can’t hold in-person sessions right now, but they can offer live consultations on Zoom, Facetime, and other platforms.
Schools are closed due to coronavirus restrictions, but teaching does not have to stop. Teachers are conducting lessons online for pupils. Kids can login and enjoy a virtual lesson on any subject, in real-time. It is an innovative way of ensuring children and teens don’t miss out on valuable educational opportunities.
Live streaming also offers plenty of opportunities for other types of learning. For example, if you need help playing on your favourite game, search for an expert on Twitch or YouTube. There are lots of gamers out there who live stream their sessions, whether they are playing Minecraft or solving some fiendishly difficult puzzle.
The business case
Live streaming of educational, thought-leadership, analysis, product demos and more also provide a business opportunity for many. With the world increasingly moving online in the lockdown – a situation unlikely to reverse in the near future and forcing many to be online-only going forward – charging for interaction on live streaming is also going to be vital.
Carrier billing and other convenient mobile payment tools are going to come to the fore as many users look to pay for one-off access, immediate access to other features and to subscribe to these live streams as they start to see just how important they are to consumers and other interested parties.
Adding a pay-wall may not be the first consideration, but it will become so as time moves on and the true advantage of live streaming becomes obvious.
Get started with live streaming
Everything else is easy from there. You now have the best tips and tricks to get you started with streaming live to an audience from around the world. Starting your own live streaming sessions is never this easy.