PJ is the founder and president of Uscreen, an all-in-one video monetization and live streaming platform that empowers video entrepreneurs and creators to monetize their content and build thriving businesses around their videos.
Content marketing has undergone a huge transformation, and video has emerged front-and-center. Use the Live video content strategy to connect with your audience to grow your brand.
Live video can be daunting. There are several important aspects you must get right to host a successful live event. This blog post is an easy-to-follow guide for creating an engaging live stream.
You’ll learn how to identify your topic, how to use feedback loops, why using rewards is critical to your live event’s success, and how to bring it all together in the form of a powerful agenda.
I’ll also share other must-do’s including getting the word out about your event to ensure you have as large an audience as possible, and how to be technically prepared to go live.
1. Decide on a Topic
Personas are typically referred to when selling products and services. Thing is, using live video isn’t different from selling a product or service. Live video is designed around what your ideal customer/viewer wants, and that makes using well-defined personas crucial.
But personas have a way of making creative content hard to produce. Most brands start off with well-intentioned personas, detailing ideal customer values, needs, wants, and desires, but get lost along the path to producing content that really speaks to buyers.
How do you dodge the persona debacle? Use the Before and After Grid.
The Before and After Grid was introduced by DigitalMarketer and does away with the creative roadblocks personas appear to create. By identifying your ideal customers’ before and after states, you’re able to establish what types of experiences to offer them.
The grid accomplishes this feat by helping you determine pain points, what their average day looks like, status, emotional states, and what perceived evil and good they experience before and after interacting with your live video content.
This approach helps your design customer-focused experiences that deliver positive results.
DigitalMarketer used the grid to produce content for DigitalMarketerHQ, its premium marketing training subscription. Here’s what their grid looked like:
You can use the grid as a tool to identify topics that will resonate best with your audience. By zeroing in on each section of the grid, you will be able to answer important questions that help identify the true value your audience stands to gain from your event, making it truly rewarding.
2. Hash it Out
Once you’ve identified what your stream will be about, break it down into talking points. You can also create a script, but often people struggle with scripts when live unless they’ve had tons of practice reading and interacting with viewers in real-time.
Talking points in the form of bullets will be more than enough. Bullet points make it easier to keep the momentum of your event going. When you’re lost, simply glimpse back at your list to get back on track.
Put pen to paper and write down all the key points your audience must receive. Don’t focus on ordering your ideas just yet, just get them onto paper.
A word of advice: if you’re not an expert on the subject matter, take the time to research your topic. People are interested in value and appearing unprepared will hurt your brand.
Once you’ve hashed out your ideas, move to the next step...
3. Plan Your Feedback Loops
Feedback loops are how you’ll engage your audience. Engaging your live stream audience can seem a little weird but it’s mandatory if you want to host a successful live event.
Engage your audience by asking closed questions. These are best placed when you’ve made an important point or shared a gem that you know your audience can relate to.
The questions you ask must not be long and open-ended. In fact, the shorter the better. Your goal is to get quick responses that don’t require your audience to think long and hard about what to say.
Here are great questions that can be used for any live video event:
- “Give me a “Y” in chat if you agree”
- “Give me a “#justin” in chat if you’ve just joined”
- “Tell me where you’re watching from in chat”
4. Create Rewards
Hosting a competition or quiz to excite viewers may seem like overkill but it’s a smart tactic that can generate tons of interaction from your audience.
Why do competitions or quizzes work?
It’s also got to do with reward psychology. Rewards trigger behavior that can produce a positive experience. In this case, to get people involved and to elevate their experience, offer an opportunity to reward their participation in the engagement exercise.
Rewards can be whatever you choose but be sure they hold value for your audience.
5. Create Your Agenda
Steps one through four have been about creating the foundation for your agenda. With these building blocks ready, it’s time to create your agenda.
Start by ordering your ideas. Group similar ideas then order them. If need be, create a timeline and break your live stream into sections to accommodate similar ideas or topics. Find the best place for feedback loops, making sure they are both relevant and timely.
Find a place to introduce your reward. While rewards act as a way to induce participation, they also help keep viewers peeled to your live video, ensuring they wait to see if they are rewarded.
With your ideas ordered, piece together your agenda. Here’s a simple three-part structure you can use:
Part One: Hook Viewers at the Start
A hook is the opening line used to grab viewer attention. While it may seem unnecessary to use a hook, especially if people are already locked into your stream, don’t miss the opportunity to use one.
Hooks help establish interest for your event, something that will go a long way to keep viewers watching. Without one, viewers will lose interest and you’ll start to see your audience shrink.
Hooks can be a powerful statement or a question. You can share what the event is all about, hint at the reward, or mention any other important facts about why they should stay to the end (potential offer).
Part Two: Deliver Value
Give viewers something they will appreciate. Often, this means access to information they would not typically find on their own or have to pay for. If you’ve done a good job of identifying a topic, viewers are interested in (Step One), this part will be easy to pull off.
The section is also where the meat of your agenda is delivered and shouldn’t require too much thought to construct.
Part Three: Plan Your Exit
Set a call to action that keeps the engagement going after the live stream. Tell them to like, subscribe, or offer a link to a landing page.
Technical Tips for Hosting Your Event Like a Pro
Hosting a live video event can be a little challenging if you’re not a technophile. The good news is that you don’t need to invest in expensive equipment or software. Here is a breakdown of what you’ll need to go live.
A streaming device
Today, you can get away with streaming from a smartphone or webcam, as long as your picture quality is good enough (think HD). If you’re not sure what it would look like to stream via your phone, here’s a video that shows how to use one.
If you have the budget for or have access to an external camera, that will work, too.
Live streaming software
Live streaming software is designed to capture your stream from a device and then transmit it to a live streaming platform. Today, there are many options available. From free tools like OBS, and Screen Link (mentioned in the video above), to premium solutions like Restream that allow you to broadcast to over 30 platforms at once.
Setting up your live streaming software is relatively straightforward. Most solutions come with detailed steps you can follow to be up and running in less than 20 minutes.
A live streaming platform
A live streaming platform is linked to your live streaming software. It receives your live video and broadcasts it to your audience. When you pick yours, be sure that it can handle large audiences and offers excellent streaming quality.
For example, Uscreen live streams are supported by an extensive worldwide content delivery network to deliver buffer-free streaming to anyone on any device and via your site, turning it into a live streaming website.
Sound quality is a big deal, it counts for half of the viewer’s technical experience. If you’ve live streaming, get an external microphone that will help block out background noise.
Lighting is the other half of your viewer’s technical experience. You can record in daylight or use artificial lighting. In either scenario, ensure that you have adequate lighting.
What is adequate lighting?
Aim to eliminate shadows from various angles. Doing so gives your videos a professional look. If you’re using natural lighting, you may have to sit directly in front of a window, like Jack Coyne in the image below.
Using artificial lighting will be a little different. If you can, opt for two lights and place them at 45-degree angles from your position to cancel out as much shadow as possible.
Image: Premium Beat
Test Your Equipment
Test your live stream setup to make sure everything is working. If you’re broadcasting to Facebook, for example, create a separate page and test your live stream. Also ensure that any external tools such as your presentation software or resources you mention or drive traffic to, like landing pages with sign-up forms and email campaigns are live and working.
Promote Your Event
Find out where your audience is and create content to promote your event. Use social media to get the word out, use email marketing to invite subscribers, and partner with brands that have access to your ideal audience.
ClickMeeting shows how easy it is to use social media to promote an event.
Perform an Autopsy
Watch your event recording to find areas for improvement. This will help you polish your live stream skills and create more engaging feedback loops, rewards, and live streams. It may not be pretty at first but unpacking what went well and what didn’t can help improve, especially if you plan to monetize live streaming events in the future.
One last tip…
Live streams, while broadcast to large audiences is very personal. Let your personality shine through. Be approachable, attentive, and imagine that you’re speaking to one person instead of many. This will melt away any nervousness, giving you the opportunity to really connect with your audience on a human-to-human level.
Live video is a great way to gain direct access to your target market. But to host engaging events, you have to plan engaging experiences that deliver valuable moments for your audience. Identify what matters to your audience, plan a well-structured agenda, promote your event far and wide, and make sure you have the technical aspects of going live bedded down.
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