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I had the opportunity to direct a YouTube live chat for The UPS Store’s 3D Print Industry Week. It was a great show, learned a few things and figured I would share some tid bits. Here’s a few things to keep in mind for your next live stream:


Have a plan and then be prepared to throw it out the window

Even a live stream has goals. Without a game plan it’s hard to direct the show to hit any key points or achieve the type of engagement you’re looking for. We set out a fairly detailed run of show broken down into 5 to 10 minute increments. This gave us an outline to strive for and a north star on what the chat was trying to do. That said, it’s live. Be prepared to go with the flow. We were taking live questions that had the ability to speed up or slow down our goal pacing.


Set a goal length

For any event you need a start time, but with a live stream you don’t necessarily need an end. Go ahead and set your goal length. We advertised the stream to run from 3-4pm. Our outline for the show accounted for that length, but in reality we figured a 40 – 60 minute run of show not knowing how many questions would come in.


Find the balance between scripted and real-time

The strength of a live stream, and especially a Q&A is the ability to engage with viewers in real-time. Taking questions from the audience was your main draw, but that doesn’t necessarily make for the best show. Scripting out key points such as the opening and closing will make for a more polished show. In our run of show outline we made sure to leave room for plenty of live questions, but also slotted in planned moments to hit key messaging points. It’s all about your goals.


Use names when engaging

This is a simple note, but when engaging with your viewers go ahead and call them out by name. Most people on social want to be seen and acknowledged. By calling out users by name before asking their questions both qued them in that this answer is for you as well as encouraged them to ask even more questions as they felt more engaged in the show.


Have the right crew

During a live stream there’s more going on than you might think. During a live chat you have to both monitor for incoming questions, filtering for what’s relevant as well as ask and answer. It can be overwhelming. To get around this we had a moderator asking questions and talent primarily answering. One way to manage it:

  1. Have your moderator asking questions from a tablet that’s not tracking the actual stream but a chat window.
  2. Behind the scenes another community manager is actually scraping for questions off camera and feeding them to the moderator. What this does is frees up your on camera talent to not worry about getting anything they shouldn’t be answering. What qualifies as irrelevant or sensitive depends on your brand.
  3. A note is that the actual playback of the live stream may have as much as a 5-10 second delay so your community manager will need to be close enough to listen in real-time to feed the most relevant questions into the moderators feed.
  4. A director may also be in the room on chat feeding in notes to the talent such as speed up, slow down, move on, etc.
  5. Depending on the complexity of your set and camera set up you may also need a camera man and someone switching between feeds. The director could also take on this role.


In conclusion

Preparation pays off. Before you ever go live have a game plan and practice, practice, practice. Simulated run throughs can identify any gaps or challenges for the talent. Having your talent use any technology and answer questions before hand in simulation will prepare them when the camera goes live. It’s ok to throw them some familiar questions with the actual live viewer questions as well. This can help build their confidence with some easy answers as they balance with the potential stress of more challenging real-time questions. And let them know it’s ok to not have an answer. While your community manager will filter for any irrelevant question, some will make it through that your talent may not be familiar with. Knowing it’s ok to say I don’t know will relieve some pressure on your talent to force things. The internet if full of all kinds of people and if you try to fake it your at higher risk of getting called out.

Check out our live stream for The UPS Store with YouTube influencer Bob Clagett of I Like To Make Stuff.