It is disappointing when I see people going live on Facebook or YouTube without prep and then hearing about their disasters. It only takes a few minutes to get the little things correct so that you and your broadcast comes across as professional and well-prepared.
Here is a brief checklist I have developed to run through before any video, especially when going live to ensure things are clean and operating at maximum efficiency. These should all be done in the two hours before you start.
Go Live Video Checklist
1. Reboot your computer. You would be surprised how many background tasks are running. By re-booting, you kill those off and it flushes your memory. Programs that are especially important to get completely cleared out are Skype, Messenger, and similar tools that want to claim your webcam and your microphone. Reboot and be sure.
2. Reset your router and/or cable modem. Physically unplug, let them sit for 30 seconds or so, and plug back in. Updates that have been sent out, speed tweaks and security measures all require a reboot. Just a good practice.
3. Shut down Dropbox, SMS messaging, Facebook Messenger, meeting reminders and all other programs that have a tendency to pop up at the worst time during your broadcast. They not only use valuable resources, they are a distraction to your message.
4. If possible, connect your device to the internet with a hard-wired connection. If you can do this, make sure that the WiFi is off so that it doesn’t ‘take-over’ the connection midway through your broadcast.
5. No matter what, test your internet speeds, both download and upload. I use Speedtest.net for this.
Remember that when doing a live broadcast, the important measurement is UPLOAD speed, the speed that you are sending out information to the web. I recommend you try to have at least 5MB upload speed and like memory and hard drive storage, you can never have too much upload speed. After you run the test, if anything is way off the first thing to do is to reboot the modem. If you are following these steps, you would have already done this in Step #2 above. I should point out that even if you are broadcasting from your Phone or Pad, you should use Speedtest to check your speeds. If there is not enough speed, you should move to somewhere that has the needed performance.
6. When it’s time to go live make sure that ONLY the websites and programs are open that you need. If you are the kind of person that has 5-10 tabs open, KILL all of them. Even if you are not using a website it can kill performance. Open tabs might seem to be innocent, but if you are not going to use that tab during your broadcast shut it down. The added benefit of this is that it removes some of the clutter that can appear on your screen.
7. Get the lighting in place. A workable three-point light kit on Amazon ranges from $50 to $200. If you are serious about doing video broadcasting on a regular basis, spend the money and get a higher-end system.
8. Use earphones or headphones – one of the worst things you can do to your audience is to have the bleed-over and squawking that happens when your speaker sounds are picked up by your microphone. Plug in headphones and that is eliminated.
9. Use an external microphone if possible. Built-in microphones vary tremendously in quality so don’t take a chance. A good quality USB microphone will get lots of use, so pick the best one you can afford. Popular models range from $50 for a Blue “Snowball to the Blue Yeti for $129. Believe it or not, color can have an impact on price.
10. Close the blinds or shades if there is a window. I know it sounds strange but lighting from a window can vary widely during your broadcast so it is best to close them and use your lighting to get solid, consistent light.
11. Check the background behind you and make sure you don’t look like a slob. I have screenshots of way too many broadcasts that were done with a sloppy background. There is nothing wrong broadcasting from a home office or bedroom if you clean it up. Work with your webcam angle to get your bed out of the shot, and please, please close the bathroom door in the background!
12. Most important on the list – TEST in advance. If it all worked a day ago, it can all go awry today for many reasons. Get on the platform, do a brief broadcast to an empty location and test your audio, your lighting and check that background. If you are going to be having guests on the broadcast, insist they join you for the test. I don’t care how ‘experienced’ they are, get them on the test. You, your guest and most importantly your audience will thank you.
Bonus Tip for those that wear glasses. Have you noticed the glare from your screen reflects on your glasses? It can be distracting for your audience. Reduce or eliminate the glare by putting a piece of solar film or glare screen over your monitor. If that is not available, either shrink down the window very small leaving a blank screen or if you are able to, turn off the monitor.