Neil Patel

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How to Make Live Video Work Even If You Hate Being on Camera

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Live video marketing is one of the hottest trends in the industry right now.

Video marketing has been popular for a while now, but recently there’s been a move to live streaming.

There’s something about the immediacy of live video that people just can’t get enough up. Being part of a live stream feels like you’re in an exclusive club.

Brands like NFL and Dunkin’ Donuts have used live streaming to bring fresh new content to their followers. It’s a trend for a reason. 80% of customers prefer live video to blog posts.

It’s easy to do with all the platforms like YouTube, Facebook Live, and Periscope.

Other social media networks, like Snapchat and Instagram, have also added live video functionality.

There’s only one problem: Live video is scary.

Knowing how to act in front of a camera isn’t something we’re born with. If you don’t do it often, it can be intimidating.

Not to mention all of the technical details. You have to make sure everything runs smoothly from start to finish.

I’ll admit it: I’m not that comfortable being on video.

Even though I use video, I’m not a superstar when I’m being filmed.

You’d probably guess that if you’ve seen any of my videos.

I end up doing it a lot. But I’m still not 100% comfortable!

I hop on live videos in hotel lobbies, conference centers, and offices. And as many times as I’ve done it, I’ve never become a natural.

And that’s okay!

Because guess what. You don’t need to be an award-winning actor to make a great live stream happen!

I’m going to share with you all of my tips and tricks for live video, so even if you’re super camera shy, you’ll be able to rock it.

Plan your event

You might have seen live streams on YouTube a lot.

YouTubers usually hold these streams to chat with their viewers and build personal connections. They often happen on the fly and are informal.

While these impromptu streams are great for most YouTube channels, they’re horrible for brands.

When you’re doing a live event, you can’t afford to take chances. You don’t want any mistakes to happen.

In short, you want your viewers to have the most positive image of your brand.

That’s why you need to carefully plan your live video events.

This will actually make you more confident. If you have everything planned out, you won’t be flustered or scared.

To start off, you can study what other brands are doing.

And while you’re at it, you need to decide what type of live video event you’ll host.

Here are the most popular types of live video along with brands who are doing it right.

The live stream

Let’s look at this YouTube stream from the World Surf League:

If you take a brief look through the stream, you’ll see (and hear) things you can use for yourself.

There’s a banner in the top right corner to remind viewers of the brand:

There’s also the typical sports score tables:

Both of these elements help viewers stay updated with the stream.

Here’s an unusual example of a successful live stream: Tastemade’s Tiny Kitchen series.

This particular stream has 3.8 million views.

Like the live World Surf League stream, Tastemade’s video has the hallmarks of a great live event.

First, the shot is stable throughout the stream, always showing the miniature kitchen setup:

I’m not saying you have to keep your camera in one place the whole time.

I’m saying that jarring camera movements are a no-no.

The host also speaks when nothing is happening in the kitchen. This eliminates any long awkward silences that may make your viewers leave.

Those are the basic elements of a live stream.

Customer support/discussion

Live streams can also be informal. In fact, informal streams work wonders at building connections with your audience.

One idea is to use live video as a form of customer support. This lets you interact directly with your customers and talk to them personally.

Google Webmasters regularly holds office hours hangouts to answer questions from the public:

These live events can come in all shapes and sizes.

Experian takes a slightly different approach from Google. The credit company offers Periscope sessions every Wednesday titled #CreditChat.

These streams are saved and can be played back on Experian’s site:

If you miss out on a session, you can watch it later. It’s a common trend that many brands are making use of.

Interviews and guest features

Live video is perfect for interviews or features with influencers in your niche.

One great example is Recode’s live interview with Apple’s Eddy Cue:

Live streams are also great for interviews because viewers can ask questions in real time.

It provides a unique form of interaction that you just can’t get anywhere else, and viewers will be able to get in on the action.

Product announcements

Lots of brands are using live streams to announce new products, and this captures viewers like crazy.

Who wouldn’t want to see breaking news about a new product the moment it’s being announced? It helps customers stay in the know.

Sony recently streamed a press conference where they announced their new camera:

And Nissan used live streaming to announce their 2016 Maxima.

Keynotes, updates, and other kinds of presentations are all excellent candidates for live events.


There’s another type of live video event that’s super important to cover: The webinar.

In case you can’t tell, I love webinars.

Webinars are humongous in the B2B world. You’re probably already doing them. (If you’re not, you should probably start.)

Hootsuite regularly holds webinars:

Webinars are usually a mix of being on camera and displaying a slideshow.

Webinars can convert like crazy, and they’re perfect if you’re in a B2B niche (or some B2C niches like technology).

So whether you’re going to do a typical live stream or a webinar, you need to analyze what others are doing.

Write down what you thought worked well and try to implement that into your own live event.

Don’t forget your audience

At the end of the day, a live video event is all about your viewers.

And that means you need to consider them first before you do anything else.

You need to make sure you realize what benefits you’re giving your viewers.


There are a few elements that every live stream needs to appeal to viewers:

  • A promise of value
  • A reason to keep watching until the end
  • Interaction with viewers

Let’s break down each element.

A promise of value. If your live event isn’t going to give your viewers any kind of value, nobody’s going to watch. It’s the painful truth.

So you need to make sure your viewers know what they’re getting. They should know right from the start.

A reason to keep watching until the end. Live events can’t be boring. There has to be something that’s captivating the audience’s attention the whole way through.

You need to create some sort of tension that will keep your viewers wanting more.

Here’s a literal example of creating tension for you. BuzzFeed got two of their team members to put a bunch of rubber bands around a watermelon until it exploded.

In this case, it was the literal tension that kept viewers hooked.

But the bigger point is that there was a reason to keep watching. And sure enough, it worked.

Interaction with viewers. This one is key. Your viewers want to feel like they’re a part of the live event.

It doesn’t take a lot. Even a simple Facebook comment section can make people feel involved.

YouTube also has a live chat feature that allows viewers to comment with you and each other:

You can comment back, creating a two-way conversation between you and your audience.

Or you could go the extra mile and involve your viewers more directly. Google Webmasters brings on others into the live stream itself:

This way, people can ask questions themselves. This can be a little riskier since you could get some trolls on, but if you can pull it off, your viewers will love it.

So far you should have an idea of what kind of live event you’re going to host, and you should have it written up in detail.

Choose a platform

After you’ve made a blueprint for your live event, you need to choose the right platform for it.

This isn’t so simple as blindly picking a platform and creating an account.

Once again, you need to focus on your audience first.

There’s an important question you need to ask: Where is my audience?

This is where demographics and psychographics come into play. If you know where your viewers hang out, you should go to where they are.

If your audience is mostly younger, Snapchat or Instagram might be good choices. If your audience is highly active on Facebook, use Facebook.

But you also have to think about the kind of event you’re hosting.

Webinars, like this one from GetResponse, are great on YouTube:

But they’re not as effective on a platform like Snapchat, which is only designed for one-on-one streams.

And with webinars, you want a lot of audience interaction in the form of Q&A sessions. On Snapchat, that’s impossible.

Which platform should you choose? Here’s a quick rundown of your options.

YouTube. This is one of the most popular options for live video, and it’s for good reason.

The ease of use, built-in comment section, and shareability make YouTube a flexible option that works well for almost any kind of live event.

Facebook. Facebook is the largest social network, so it makes a lot of sense to use its Facebook Live feature.

It’s also simple to use, and since most people are used to Facebook, they’ll have no problem interacting with your stream.

If most of your audience is on Facebook, you might want to go with this option. But if a good percentage of your viewers don’t have Facebook, that could pose a problem.

Periscope. Periscope is the new kid on the block when it comes to video streaming.

It’s specifically designed just for live streaming, so you might find its interface more intuitive.

You’ll also tap into an audience you wouldn’t have on other social networks. On top of it all, if Periscope streams are shared on Twitter, they’ll play right on Twitter.

That means you can reach Periscope and Twitter users at the same time.

Other platforms. Some big social networks, like Snapchat and Instagram, have live video functionalities, but they’re not as robust as the platforms I’ve mentioned so far.

If a good chunk of your audience is highly active on a platform that supports live video, it’s worth a shot to use that platform.

Just make sure your event is appropriate for the platform so that your viewers will get the best experience from it.

Script out everything

This is where most live streamers go wrong.

And it’s a big reason why spur-of-the-moment streams can lead to disaster.

If you’re not prepared, you could fumble, trip over your words, and have technical difficulties. That could make you lose viewers by the dozens.

Can you see why it’s important to prepare for everything?

Specifically, you need to write a script.

But this won’t just be a script for your words. It’s a script for everything––when to pull up slides, when to speak, when to answer questions.

It’s almost like a script for a play. It tells the actors where to move and when to say their lines. That’s exactly what you’re going to create.

Different types of live events will call for different types of scripts.

If you’re doing a stream with a lot of action, take a look at how theater scripts look:

While you don’t need to use this exact format or go into this much detail, you should create a script that tells you exactly what to do and say.

If you’re doing a webinar, you might just need a document that has everything you’re going to say.

Here’s an example:

As a bonus, this can double as a transcript that you can share with your viewers.

Sometimes, a script might not work.

For example, if you’re planning an outside event or a summit-type event with a lot of guests, scripts can cause confusion.

In those cases, do your best to make sure everyone (and everything) is on the same page.

But for 80% of live events, a script is absolutely necessary.

Like I said, this will also help calm your nerves. Preparing for everything and having a plan on paper is reassuring.

Rehearse ahead of time

I know you’re probably short on time––I can relate!

But you owe it to yourself to take some time and rehearse your live event.

First, make sure you don’t have any technical issues.

Why do you need to take care of this first? People need to be able to watch your event, and it needs to go smoothly.

Start by running a trial live stream. If you experience problems, check out the platform’s support page or FAQ section.

Once you’ve gotten any initial difficulties ironed out, run through your event as if you’re really doing it.

If you feel up to the challenge, you can even ask a coworker or friend to sit in on the stream and act as the audience.

Ask your test viewer to throw you a couple of curveballs. That way, you’ll have a better idea of how to deal with the unexpected if you need to.

Start an hour before

If you were speaking at an event, you wouldn’t show up 15 minutes before the event started. You’d get there early, at least an hour before.

You should do the same for online events. I recommend being ready an hour before.

Take the time to make sure you have everything and double check to see if everything’s working as it should.

You can also take this time to rehearse more and go over any tough parts.

Finally, take some deep breaths and relax. Even if you mess up a little, your audience won’t care, and you can learn from your mistakes.

All that’s left to do is to make the event the best you can. Go out there and crush it!


I think live video goes unnoticed by a lot of brands, and that’s a shame.

It creates a one-of-a-kind connection between you and your viewers, and it can open up new doors. (And, yes, it can get you more sales.)

I totally get the fear of the camera. But if you can overcome that, you’ll have a powerful tool at your disposal.

Live video offers so many unique benefits that it’s honestly a bad move if you ignore it.

You shouldn’t put all of your focus into live video, but I think you should implement it into your current marketing mix.

I’ve always been about putting customers first, and that’s exactly what live events do. They actually make your customers part of your brand.

And with tons of platforms optimized for live streaming, it’s a no-brainer.

I know it’s scary, but I also know you can create awesome live video. Anyone can do it, and with enough practice, it’ll become second nature to you.

What helps you get ready for public speaking or a live event?

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