017: Adventures In Livestreaming
The podcast dedicated to giving you a no-bullshit look at what it takes to build relationships through video. This is for the scared, the overwhelmed, the awkward as fuck, and all those who believe diy doesn't have to mean amateur but don't know where to start ...
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Tors is a television professional, who studied all aspects of television production before launching her career spanning almost a decade. She's worked with a BAFTA nominated production team, has her own entry on imdb.com, and has even walked the red carpet several (terrifying) times.
She's had chips thrown at her by David Tennant (it was an accident, he's got terrible aim), she's interviewed some amazing actresses, and she attended the cast and crew screening of Empire Strikes Back at the grand old age of four.
Now she lives in south Wales with a large dog and a small cat, where she uses the knowledge she gained in her television years and beyond, to help online biz owners step in front of the camera and connect with their audience.
In This Episode
I’m going to be approaching this week’s episode a little differently. I recently had a conversation with a friend about livestreaming and I had a bit of revelation, because I seriously like livestreaming and I really wasn’t expecting that. So I thought I’d talk a bit about my personal experiences around livestreaming and that shift from so scared I was shaking to calm, confident enjoyment in the hopes it might inspire you to start livestreaming too.
"How many times have we all heard the message that if we stream it they will come? That wasn’t true then and it’s still not true now." - Tors Grantham on #videomatterspodcast
"You don’t magically become better over night, there’s a process to it. It takes being mindful about what you’re doing in the moment, and that’s difficult when your brain has shut down from fear." - Tors Grantham on #videomatterspodcast
"Because it’s scary to us, our biology, physiology, whatever the right term is, thinks death is on the cards and treats it as such. I’m gonna let you into a little secret, death isn’t on the cards." - Tors Grantham on #videomatterspodcast
"Livestreaming is a balancing act, you have to juggle interacting with the live viewers with the knowledge that every time you do you’re excluding the replay viewers." - Tors Grantham on #videomatterspodcast
"Don’t panic when the cat sticks its butt in front of the camera, or your toddler comes in covered in jam and wearing only one sock. People eat that shit up." - Tors Grantham on #videomatterspodcast
I’ve shared before that my fear of video was so bad that I would turn my back on the camera, until I was in a situation where that wasn’t possible any more. Hello Doctor Who and the TARDIS! When I first started making pre-recorded videos, the process itself was fine - once I realised I should go back to the methods I’d learned in television - it was the releasing them into the wild that gave me palpitations, and livestreaming was much, much worse to my mind.
Tell me if this sounds familiar: there was literally nothing to hide behind, not even editing. What I liked about pre-recorded video was that I was in control. I controlled the room, how I showed up on camera, what I was saying, how it was put together and where I put it. I knew the kind of people who’d watch it, and I knew the expectations those kind of platforms and people had. But with live, all that went out the window. People wouldn’t just be seeing and hearing me, they’d be seeing and hearing a deeply uncomfortable me. I had enough trouble interacting with people in person, doing it live in front of anyone who wanted to show up seemed like a bit too much to ask for.
But I yearned for that connection. I yearned to be the rockstar. I yearned to be accepted as someone who knew her shit. And I thought livestreaming would give me all those things.
In my interview with her, Halley Gray mentioned that she thought that if she livestreamed she’d get 1,000 new followers a day. I have to admit, I was guilty of this too. How many times have we all heard the message that if we stream it they will come? That wasn’t true then and it’s still not true now. Yes, you have a higher chance of being found if you go live, but it doesn’t mean the masses will come.
And, frankly, that was a bit of a relief. Because being terrified of going live meant I had no clue what to do if loads of people did show up. Just having half a dozen people turn up to my broadcast was bad enough. This was back when Periscope was taking over the world, and I think I only ever had, at most, like 10 people live with me, but I would literally be climbing the walls with fear for the hour before I went live. Looking back, I would be so nervous that I’m surprised I didn’t work myself up into more than some minor anxiety attacks.
My nerves are pretty obvious on camera, they manifest as poor breathing, red face, visible shaking, and either lots of long pauses or chopping and changing my mind mid-sentence. I self-correct a lot when I’m scared, and I tend to go into fixed stare robot face too. You know the look, where you look more like trapped prey than a person. Body language was non-existent and, more often than not, I was self-soothing by hugging myself or by rubbing my arms.
Absolutely none of that was a good experience for the audience.
And here’s the thing, I’m still learning how to not do some of this stuff. You don’t magically become better over night, there’s a process to it. A learning curve. It takes being mindful about what you’re doing in the moment, and that’s pretty fucking difficult when your brain has shut down from fear. Our brains are literally wired around fear, it’s designed to keep us safe, and the way fear works is to make it easier for us to get away from the scary things, we’re not really programmed to stick around and see what happens because that way leads to kitty food for the saber toothed tiger and no more us.
When we’re afraid of going on camera, our brain and body chemistry are actually doing everything they can to make sure we don’t get on camera. Because it’s scary to us, our biology, physiology, whatever the right term is, thinks death is on the cards and treats it as such. I’m gonna let you into a little secret, death isn’t on the cards.
Oh I know it can feel like you’re a New York minute away from having a heart attack, but death isn’t really something that’s going to happen. At least, it hasn’t happened yet despite the hundreds and possibly thousands of people who’re livestreaming who thought it would too. So, yay, the odds are in favour of not dying from going live. Of course, it took some time for my brain to realise that and stop treating it like a life threatening situation.
If I’m honest, and I always try to be honest, I don’t remember when the change happened. I know it was when I started doing Facebook Lives rather than Periscopes. I’m pretty sure it was after I made the decision to only go live in my Facebook group rather than on my page where anyone can see it. I still have a highly negative voice in my head telling me people will laugh at me and while I’ve worked hard to overcome that, going live on my page was adding so much stress I decided to put it off. I’m still putting it off.
But this realisation that I actually enjoy going live is making me rethink that decision. Because I do, enjoy it. I would even go so far as to say I love it. Because of the time difference between me and the people in my group I often find I’m going live to no one, or only one person, and even that doesn’t bother me. I feel like I’ve grown as a person, haha.
Here’s what I’ve discovered about livestreaming since starting:
HAVE A PLAN
I’m all about planning, so this is a biggie for me. I would outline my talking points and note down anything that I specifically wanted to say, in the exact way I wanted to say it. This was often only one sentence and I typically only do it for one thing per livestream, if at all. I love words, and understanding how the words you use impacts what you’re communicating is huge for me, it’s one of the reasons I love the English language so much, it has the ability to really communicate in a nuanced way. Plus my vocabulary is ridiculous and about a hundred years out of date, sometimes it’s harder for me to find the smaller, modern word than it is to use the four syllable out of date word. So I plan, and if there’s something really important I want to communicate I might script that single line out.
I’m also trying to get better about scripting out my intro and outro. They’re the most important part, because your intro is your first impression and your outro is the thing people will remember the most as it’s the last thing they hear you say. With livestreaming, you need to do it in a way that welcomes both live and replay viewers, as well as explain who you are and what people are going to get out of the video. I’ve realised it doesn’t have to be completely new each time, despite the urge to channel Aussie legend Julia Morris, it just needs to be tweaked slightly for each livestream’s topic.
REMEMBER THE AUDIENCE EXPERIENCE
It’s not unusual for you to have higher numbers of replay viewers than live viewers. Unfortunately, the biggest mistake I see around live video is people want the experience of the live viewers to be great - this is not stupid - but they do that by screwing over the replay viewers, which is. Stupid. Livestreaming is a balancing act, you have to juggle interacting with the live viewers with the knowledge that every time you do you’re excluding the replay viewers, like you’re dangling a party they weren’t at in front of their faces and then really rubbing it in.
What does that mean? It means kicking off quickly and diving straight into your content, even if no one’s live with you. No, wait, especially if no one’s live with you, because as a replay viewer that experience sucks. No one wants to watch 5 minutes of you twiddling your hair while you wait for someone to jump on live with you, that’s the quickest way to lose anyone who starts to watch the replay. Get straight into the good stuff, wait to welcome people so you only have to do it once, and then keep going with the content. Interact with any questions, highlight anything of interest someone says, and then keep going with your knowledge bombs. By the way, highlighting interesting comments and answering questions means reading out what’s been said please, don’t make replay viewers get arsey FOMO because they’re not sure which comment you’re talking about.
Stuff’s going to go wrong. Someone or something’s going to join you on screen. If you have kids, it’ll be them showing up half naked behind you. If you have pets, they’re going to have one of those mad five minutes and run around knocking stuff over and generally being cray-cray. If you have kids and pets, it’s probably 50/50 as to who’s doing the running around and knocking things over. That’s the joy of live video.
You can get away with lots of stuff you can’t with pre-recorded. People like live video because they get to really meet you, not the you with the front you put on because you want people to like you. The real you. The you your family and bestie see, who’s lovable and awesome, and maybe even hilarious. People love you for a reason, your audience won’t be any different.
So don’t panic when the cat sticks its butt in front of the camera, or your toddler comes in covered in jam and wearing only one sock. People eat that shit up. Acknowledge it, and then move on. Or end the livestream to take care of it if you need to, you can always come back in 5 minutes and go again, people won’t actually mind because they’ve seen what it is you had to jump off to deal with.
INCOHERENCY ISN’T LIFE THREATENING
Just as you’re allowed to have a disaster happening, you’re allowed to figure out what you want to say as you’re saying it. You’re allowed to change your mind half way through a sentence, you’re allowed to pause and hum or say uhm and erm while you think about. I would argue that the self-correcting thing is okay as long as it’s not all the damn time, because that makes it difficult for people to follow, so if this is you work on completing the sentence even if you then change your mind and reword it.
You also don’t need to have all the answers. In the beginning, I was paralysed by the fear that someone would ask me a question I didn’t know the answer to, and I thought that was the worst case scenario because how could I be the expert if I didn’t know all the answers? This mindset stopped me for a loooong time, far too long in fact. And then I thought about the people I look up to and follow, and realised that every single one of them had said they didn’t know the answer at least once in my memory, and it hadn’t changed how I thought about them in any way. It also made me realise that believing I should know all the answers was an unrealistic expectation, because no one knows all the answers, just as there often isn’t only one answer to be had, just opinions. Believing in my own opinions is something I’ve worked hard on and continue to work on, and is the key to my confidence in my knowledge, experience and expertise.
PEOPLE WILL JUDGE YOU
Oh yeah, people are gonna judge you. They’re going to judge you and your business based off your content and livestreaming is no different. If your brand is high-end and you’re consistently showing up on camera with messy hair and pyjamas you’re doing yourself a disservice. Yes, you can do that occasionally, but not all the time. Your video content, the environment you film in, and your appearance on screen, should all be on-brand 90% of the time. I mean, 90% is an arbitrary number I just made up, but I think it gets my point across. Your livestreams aren’t just about you showing up on camera and being cool, they’re a direct reflection of you and your business and should be treated as such. If there’s one thing I want you to take away from this episode, that was it. Show up like you’re talking to a new client, because you never know, you could be.
So, to recap:
- have a plan, script out your intro and outro
- remember the audience experience and balance live viewers experience with that of the replay viewers
- keep going, stuff’s gonna fuck up, don’t sweat it, people love it
- you’re allowed to figure out what you’re saying as you’re saying it
- your livestreams are a direct reflection of you and your business, show up on camera in a way that support that
Getting started with live video doesn’t have to mean going live to the public. You can start in Facebook Groups, there are some out there that let you practice to the group to help you get comfortable. Use Instagram Stories, it’s a weird mix of almost live but not. You can re-record and re-record as much as you like before letting it go live, it’s only 15 seconds, and it disappears after 24 hours. Get comfy there first before you decide to start livestreaming, it’ll help.
And finally, do what I did, which is figure out how to make something wildly uncomfortable a little more palatable by controlling the parts you need to control in order to start. Starting is key, you can’t get better if you don’t start. You can’t start to enjoy it until you start, full stop. It would be a real shame if you didn’t start at all, because in my opinion it’s the best and fastest way to build a relationship with your audience, and isn’t that the ultimate end goal?