These last weeks and months have been a huge learning curve for me. With so many live author visits and writing festivals cancelled, I’ve instead had the opportunity to explore the world of online author visits, livefeed author talks and pre-recorded videos. It has been a crazy journey and I’ve learned a lot.
Last night I did my first ever Facebook Live event, as part of #LitFest2444, a live festival in Port Macquarie that was revamped into an online festival. I was pretty nervous before the event, but it turned out to be loads of fun and it was great to get so many questions and comments and even emails giving positive feedback afterward (THANKYOU to everyone who came along!! xxxx)
I’m not a big Facebook fan, so getting a handle of how to use Facebook Live took loads of preparation. I’d like to share what I learned, in case it’s useful for you in your own online adventures:
So, you’re planning a Facebook Live event…
Below is the checklist I compiled and used for putting on my first Facebook Live event. I’m not a technical expert, so I recommend you go to Google to work out the finer details of how to manage these steps. However, this might be a good TO DO list for you to work through.
Sort out your ‘set’: What do you want your viewers to see in the background? Include your books and your personality. Exclude your laundry piles and unwashed dishes.
- Sort out your lighting: I invested in a ring light, for maximum beauty. This is because my office is basically a cave and it was an evening event (=no natural light). I also used a tripod for stability, and bluetac to get the phone to stand up straight (see if you can see my phone slowly tilt to one side in the replay…no, I’m not sinking)
- Sort out your sound: I’m used to speaking to a live audience in a noisy space, so I was able to SPEAK LOUDLY and didn’t use a mike. Plus I was in a quiet place, so I think my sound worked okay. If you’re in a noisy space, look into using some sort of plug-in microphone.
- Figure out what you’re going to talk about: Yep. An oldie but a goody. Don’t forget this all-important step.
- Give your talk a compelling title: When you’re talking to your screen in a dark and lonely place, you want viewers to come flocking to your feed, so giving it a cool title can help. I went with 5 ways you can use science and technology to super-charge your creative writing. Word on the web is that using “An odd number of ways to snare viewers’ attention” is a good formula. (What do you think? Does it work?)
- Promote your event beforehand. #Litfest2444 set up the livefeed as a Facebook event from their Facebook page, and then we shared the event to our networks starting weeks before.
- Promote it again: Closer to D-day, remind people that your livefeed will be happening. Maybe use your phone to film a super-short video with a bit of a teaser. (For example, this is my promo-video for this session.)
- Work out how you want to broadcast: I chose to broadcast via my phone, mostly because this felt simpler. You can also broadcast using your computer, but it’s a bit trickier. Given it was my first time, I went with Ye Olde Principle of KISS: Keep It Simple, Stinkbug.
- Set up a test Facebook Live feed: This is well worth it. Facebook lets you do a livefeed just to yourself (on purpose, though). Or, you can make a private group specifically for testing purposes, then invite your co-collaborators to join the group, invite them to your test event, and go live just to the people in your private group. I did these tests and it was well worth it. You can suss out your internet speed, your camera orientation, your lighting, the lag in response time, how commenting might work, etc. Plus you get to experience the truly odd feeling of talking to your screen as if it’s a living, breathing, laughing, book-loving person. Or worse, talking to a picture of yourself talking to yourself as if you’re a living, breathing, laughing…. You get the idea. Either way, it can be truly unnerving experience and it’s good to get a feel for it before you’re in front of an unknown audience.
ONE HOUR BEFORE:
- Set up your viewer-experience device (I used my laptop): Having this second device allows you to see what your viewers will see. Just log in to your Facebook page and load up your event page. This is so you can see your own broadcast. You can also use your computer to share your live event once it’s started.
- Set up your recording device (I used my phone): See above re KISS.
- Set up your lights and your tech: Make sure you have all the extension cords and charging cords where you want them to be (AKA plugged in, so they don’t cut out halfway through)
- Mute notifications, children, dogs, posties: This is a valuable but not always possible step. Don’t forget: disasters can also have comedy value.
- Check your phone settings: Make sure your phone can rotate to landscape or portrait and choose which one you’ll use.
- Turn on your lights.
- Plug in your phone, chargers, etc
- Log into Facebook, go to your event page, click “Write a Post”, click “Go Live” (you won’t go live when you click this, so don’t worry)
- Type in a description of your livefeed – feel free to use emojis 🙂
- Click START (now you will go live, so don’t pick your nose).
It is seriously that easy (and that dangerous :-)). You get about three seconds from when you hit that START button to when you’re LIVE.
And you will be live, even though it doesn’t feel like it. Like, nobody introduces you, nobody claps…but you just need to start anyway 🙂
FIRST FIVE MINUTES:
- Welcome people to your video.
- Tell them what your video is going to be about and why it might be useful.
- Tell them who you are and why you might be worth listening to.
- Encourage people to share the livecast, to like the post or hit the smiley faces whenever they feel like it, to make comments and ask questions.
- I like to do an Acknowledgement of Country and a call-out to our nation’s first and best storytellers.
- Kick into your content!
Insert riveting and useful content here.
- Summary: Sum up what you’ve said and what you hope your viewers have got out of it.
- Call to action: Is there something you want your viewers to do? To get creative? To try a new writing technique? To enter a writing competition? To give you feedback so you can improve for next time? Now’s a good time to ask.
- Thank viewers for joining: Seriously. I felt so grateful to the people who had stayed and watched and asked questions and played along. At this point, I felt like I’d climbed Everest and wanted to give a huge thankyou to the amazing viewers who’d climbed it with me.
- Wait five seconds: Wait a bit before you end your feed, to make up for any lag. Don’t spend this five seconds drinking wine or staring into space.
- Hit the button: Somewhere on the app there’s a button that ends your livefeed. I can’t remember what it’s called, but it’s obvious and you’ll find it easily, and I’m guessing you’ll be mightily relieved to hit it. I was 🙂
- Click “Share”: Share your livefeed video so it will be publicly available for replay viewers.
- Choose life: You can go into your Videos tab and choose a still from the video that doesn’t show you with zombie eyes or that weird grimace thing you do when you’re talking.
- Respond to comments: Hopefully you’ll have lots of comments and questions during your livefeed, but you may not have time to answer them all. After my live event had ended, I went back through the comments so I could respond to people personally. It was a good way to wind down, and also a way to thank viewers for tuning in.
So that’s it…that’s the checklist I used for my first-ever Facebook Live author event. I’m 100% certain it’s not a definitive list, and there are many things I probably did wrong. But, it took me ages to pull it all together and I hope that by sharing it I can maybe save you a bit of time (and give you a bit of confidence to do your own Facebook Live events!).
If you have any other hot tips for doing a great Facebook Live session, please pop them in the comments.
I still have SO MUCH TO LEARN and I’d love to keep improving by skills in this brave new world of online engagement.
Thank you!!! And good luck!
PS: You can see the finished product here.