Sometimes people don’t just buy the product or service we sell; they buy the person selling the service. Think about the last time you bought a new product or service: you find two equally skilled people, but one of them you have more of a connection with. So you buy their product.

Part of what we create on social media is attempting to show more of who we are so that people will buy ‘us’. We’re breaking through the bits and bytes and are attempting to show our prospective clients who we are. Showing our personality can be a really important part of getting potential clients to like and trust us. This is especially the case if we’re a small business or sole traders.

Facebook Lives can be a great way to show who you are in a way that mediums like blogging or even social media updates cannot do. A Livestream shows how we speak, interact, think, organise and create on the fly – all traits which we use when working with someone professionally. It’s a great tool to reveal the human behind the work.

With Facebook’s algorithm favouring Facebook Lives, it’s no wonder that people are jumping on board to give it a go more and more often.

But if you’re just looking at Facebook Lives for the first time, what things do you need to think about? Here’s the checklist.

Lights, camera, backdrop

One of the first things you need to think about is if you have the tools to run a Facebook Live. For most of us, at the most basic level, we can run a Facebook Live from our phone or camera with a wifi connection.

However, to make it look even more professional, you probably want to think about sound, lighting and your internet upload speed. Lotti Kershaw’s guest post on this very topic looks at what to think about to make your production look slick.

One of the other things you might want to keep in mind when you’re thinking about your Facebook Live is your background. Making sure your background is neat and clean, there’s nothing personal (laundry!) or confidential (office emails!) behind you.

Having an interesting, but not busy, background is the balance you need to find. My first videos were shot in front of a bookcase, and people would often say they were focussing less on what I was saying because they were busy trying to check out the books I owned! Lesson learnt!

Some people like to use backdrops if they’re particularly conscious that their home or office background isn’t suitable for filming, which is another way to do it.

PRO TIP: Open up your camera on your phone or computer before you begin filming. Just look at your background and see what’s in the frame. Facebook Live might have a slightly different crop, but this will give you a good start to get you thinking critically about what you see.

Think about what’s happening in your house when you’re filming and do what you can to reduce interruptions. Is your cat wanting dinner (like mine is every time I do a livestream at 6 pm)? Will your kids be home from school? Try to minimise interruptions as best you can.

But let’s face it – life happens, and it may interrupt your livestream. And that’s ok, too because you’re human (and that’s what you’re doing the livestream for, right?!)

Yeah, we’ve all been there…

Getting those views

Facebook Lives are great to interact with your audience – but remember that they are also a piece of content that lives on your social channels after you’ve created it. Having a live audience is great, but if you’re just getting started or have a small community, you might not have a lot of people tuning in live. It doesn’t mean people won’t watch it later and still get value from it!

However, there are a few things to encourage your audience to tune in live. Promoting your livestream the week before, and ten minutes before you go live is a good start. You could even set up a Facebook Event, so people lock it in their diary. I also understand that some people don’t want a huge audience the first time they do a Facebook Live. That’s ok! But after three Facebook Lives, you should have the basics under your belt, so it’s time to get promoting!

The most important part, however, is explaining why people should tune in. Simply stating that you’re ‘Going Live’ might not be enough to catch someone’s eye in their busy day – but adding that you are talking about topic x, y, z, or they can learn about a, b, c is a great way to pique their interest.

The other thing to consider is the time of day that you’re doing your livestream – when are your audience online? There’s no point doing a livestream at 9 am if the majority of your audience are online between 7 pm – 10 pm.

On interacting live…

As soon as you hit ‘Live’, there is a delay of around 30 seconds before your audience are sent the notification that you are streaming. This means that you can be well into talking about your main points, and your first viewers will be tuning in and have missed half the action. For this reason, it’s often the case that people streaming Facebook Lives will not get into the meaty stuff for the first half minute.

When you’re planning your script, you may wish to spend the first 30 seconds giving some background on yourself or speaking about another topic briefly before getting into the main topic.

For my Facebook Lives in the Bean Social Facebook Group, for the first 30 seconds, I talk about the key dates to put in your social media calendar for the next week, before jumping into my main topic. It’s a simple way to add something useful in those first few seconds while waiting for people to tune in.

Some of you may not know what I spent many years working in television, specialising in incorporating social media responses to into live broadcasts. One of the critical things I learnt is that people need time to absorb that you are asking for questions, time to think of a question and to type that response.

This means that if you spring on people “what are your questions?”, you will be awkwardly sitting for 60 seconds waiting for them to respond! Instead, regularly flag throughout the session that you will be looking for feedback or questions at the end, so when you are ready to refer to the audience comments, you’ve already got some options to chose from without having to wait.

PRO TIP: For those wanting something a little bit fancy, why know throw a caption or title up with your question in the 30 seconds before your question time?

Additionally, it important to craft your callouts in a way that have a low barrier to entry, so people can and will respond. The harder or vaguer the question is, the less likely people will be to respond. And you’ve got crickets at your end.

Let’s break down this barrier to entry stuff. If a question is too open or vague, people will not be able to easily settle on, or formulate an easy response. For example, “What’s the biggest challenge you face at work?” is hard to answer. We have so many challenges, based on different context, that it’s impossible to settle on one without forming a debate team.

If you compare it to: “What is your favourite snack to get you through the 3 pm slump?” is a closed question – it gives you a focused set choices. Most people can answer this because their mind is probably scrolling through a list of three items: muffins, chocolate or coffee. It is much easier to pick one and engage.

Craft your questions in a way that people can easily engage because they aren’t overwhelmed with the choices.

Instead of “What is your biggest challenge with Facebook ads?” consider “Think about the last time you ran an ad on Facebook. What was the result you were after?”.

As a general note on interaction, say hello when people join and thank them for their questions. If you’re filming to engage your community – then engage with them. However, be prepared that the little noise when someone tunes in might be off-putting and throw you off your point. Mute your computer if you think that will throw you off too much!

What are you going to say?

Do you know what you’re going to say? Is your audience going to tune in if you don’t have a clear point or purpose? The simplest way to have a clear point is to plan out what you’re going to say.

Some people like having a complete script; some use dot points, some just scrawl drawings to jog their thoughts. Do whatever works for you. However, writing your points down is really important because Facebook Lives fell like they induce that same fight-or-flight response that public speaking does. This means that you might just completely forget what you’re saying mid-sentence. Having something outside of your head to refer to helps you back on track.

PRO TIP: Put your notes as close to your camera as possible, so you don’t need to break eye contact with the camera. This could be a notepad file on your computer or sticky notes stuck to a camera.

When you’re planning what you’re going to say, one way to approach is is to think of it as a school essay: an introduction, three points and a conclusion. You may want to add in those notes around interaction so you don’t forget.

For example:

INTRO:

  1. Introduce yourself (who you are, why discussing this topic)
  2. Introduction the Main topic you will be discussing and why it’s important
  3. Mini Topic (30 seconds)

MAIN TOPIC:

  1. Main Topic Introduction
  2. Main topic point A
  3. Main topic point B
  4. Callout for questions at the end (2 min warning)
  5. Main topic point C
  6. Questions at the end / interaction
  7. Conclusion / Recap of points
  8. Call to action (ie, tune in next week / subscribe / follow / leave a review).

PRO TIP: Struggling with an idea for what to talk about? Look at what your most popular blog posts were. Get recycling and turn that into a Facebook Live!

The final countdown

While it might feel silly to practise your script out loud before you go Live, if you’ve been at a computer all day speaking to no one, your vocal chords and body are not prepared for the onslaught of speaking for 5 – 10 minutes straight. Do some warm-ups to get your body ready. Practising your script also means you know if there are any tricky phrases or descriptions you might stumble over, so you can work out how to best say them before that little red light is on.

In terms of some super practical advice, keep some water handy. Speaking for a long time is thirsty work – and it’s ok to pause, and drink. As a bonus tip – pausing also gives your audience time to absorb your points, so don’t feel you need to fill that silence.

PRO TIP: If you’re really concerned about speaking out loud, join a local Toastmasters club to practise verbalising your ideas. It’s a skill that can be learnt and grows through practice.

Just hook in

For those doing a livestream for the first time, they might just want to conquer facing the fear of a doing it the first time and getting the basics down.

Some people might want something more complex: like combining livestreams so you can have guests on your live chats. Facebook is slowly rolling out more features like this, but in the meantime, there are plenty of third-party plugins that allow for group chats, screen sharing, adding captions or title slides.

The reality is that unless you’ve been a presenter in a past life, your first few Facebook Lives won’t be perfect. They will be scary. And maybe a bit messy. But they get better over time. Learn from each one you do. The hardest part is ripping off that band-aid the first time, facing the fear and doing it. And then doing it again.

And then one more time. Then it stops being quite so scary.

The checklist:

  • Get your filming set up: lights, camera, sound.
  • Consider your location: backdrop, time of day, activity in your location.
  • Get a topic: Write a script, practise it. Consider how you will be interacting with people.
  • Promote it: When will you be doing it? Spread the word!

And that’s it! Good luck with your Facebook Live and I’ve love to see what you create. Throw your links in the comments!