Young woman with live stream set up.
How to conduct a successful live stream on your own with a few simple tools.

When producing a video, it’s essential to plan and prepare adequately, so your shoot goes off without a hitch. However, how does your typical production compare to hosting a live stream? In this article, we will explore how you can conduct a successful live stream on your own with a few simple tools.

Script

A script describes everything that the viewer will see and hear.  For a live stream, you’ll need to decide between:

• A simple script with a couple of pointers on what you are going to say or do
• Going entirely scripted, reading every line of dialogue using a teleprompter.

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The first option is way more accessible since you will be following a simple outline and talking about whatever comes to mind. I recommend this one for most live streams since it will allow you to be more natural on camera and you won’t look so robotic in comparison to reading everything from a teleprompter. Just have a straightforward outline and be conscious of how much time you spend on each subject. You don’t want to overtalk and bore your audience. It’s a good practice to plan exactly how much time you will spend on each topic.

Schedule

After writing the script, determine the day and time at which you’ll go live — and tell people about it! Also, make sure you let your audience know how long the live stream will be. Don’t make it excessively long. In my experience, a live stream between 20 – 30 minutes is an ideal length.

As for timing, that depends on your audience. If your audience is from around the world, you need to consider the timezone and make the live stream at the time your audience will most likely be online. I use World Time Buddy to compare time zones from different countries.

Equipment Checklist

You have a script and the day and time you will do the live stream picked out. Now it’s time to do a checklist of the gear you’ll need:

Camera

The most convenient cameras to use for a live stream are USB webcams, smartphone cameras or the built-in camera on your computer. Most live streaming platforms will identify these cameras without any issues. However, if you decide to use any of these cameras, the sound quality will not be best, so an external microphone is recommended.

Using an external camera

If you want to use a professional camera, you’ll need to buy additional equipment to connect the camera to your computer via HDMI, VGA or SDI. I use a Blackmagic Intensity Extreme capture device. This model is discontinued, but there are newer options available from Blackmagic Design, AJA, Elgato and others. Once connected, the streaming platform will identify the camera and make it available as a primary camera.

Blackmagic Intensity Extreme capture device
Blackmagic Intensity Extreme capture device

Tripod

If you are using a smartphone or an external camera, using a tripod is a must. It’s best that the camera not move during your stream.

Microphone

Using an external microphone is strongly recommended for live streaming. Don’t rely on your camera’s microphone, since they are prone to noise and average audio quality. You could use a lavalier mic, shotgun mic or even a handheld mic. Check out Videomaker’s Microphone Buyer’s Guide for more information on choosing the right microphone.

Young man using a microphone to live stream
Using an external microphone is strongly recommended for live streaming.

Lights

A simple approach for lighting your live stream set is three-point lighting. For more information on how to do this check “Three-Point Lighting: The First Lighting Technique You Need to Master.”

Cables

Collect any cables needed to connect your gear together and get your stream online. Make sure to appropriately manage the wires and that they are not in the way. Some cable management will go a long way here in making your stream look more professional.

Props

If you have an object or props that you wish to show during your live stream, go for it. A fantastic accessory to use is a whiteboard so you can quickly write things and show it to your audience. Just make sure the camera can focus on the whiteboard. Some streaming services allow you to share your computer screen, as well, opening you up to a world of possibilities such as using a Keynote presentation or streaming multimedia content and games.

Where to Set up

Compared to a film set where you have the full flexibility of doing whatever you like with a live stream you have one limitation.

Where is your internet modem or router located?

You need to set up your live stream set as close as possible to your modem or router for better signal strength. If you are doing a live stream with your computer, it’s strongly recommended that you use an ethernet cable instead of the wireless signal. Live streaming takes a considerable amount of bandwidth, and if you do it via Wi-Fi, the chances of having playback issues increase exponentially.

Choosing your Platform

Many different platforms offer live streaming, the most popular being Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram. Deciding which of these platforms to use will depend on your target audience.

YouTube – a wide range of content creators use this one, from gamers, to live podcast, live tutorials, live news, and almost any topic you can think. Doing Youtube live streams also complements your current channel uploads, adding more content is an excellent way to interact with your subscribers.

Facebook – the largest social media website on the internet allows every user with a personal profile or page to use Facebook Live. Facebook is excellent for small business since it will enable you to reach a considerable audience and even more if you use paid ads (to use Facebook Ads you need a Facebook Page).

Instagram – although Instagram primarily focuses on picture sharing, live streaming allows connecting more personally with the audience while maintaining a creative approach. Instagram live streaming is commonly used by actors, musicians, sports personalities, vloggers and journalists.

Test all systems before going live.

It is monumentally essential to do a test run before doing your real live stream. Make sure to do this test a couple of days before, not on the same day. In this test, you want to make sure every piece of equipment is working correctly, test your internet connection speed, check video quality and, most important, make sure the audio is clear. Do not overlook the audio quality and be sure to verify how it sounds on different devices — on a computer, smartphone speakers, and headphones. Your audience will not mind the quality of the video so much, but they won’t be as merciful if they can’t hear you. We also recommended practicing what you are going to say and have every prop you are going to use on set.

Have a backup plan.

Live streams can sometimes fail altogether leaving you stranded. If you are doing the live stream with your computer, it’s a good idea to also have your smartphone on standby just in case the main computer stream fails. Sometimes the internet goes down, and other times your computer just doesn’t want to connect to the internet. If that happens, try using your smartphone to reconnect to the streaming platform using your cellular data. Use this as a last resource since a live stream will drain your data fast. Still, it’s better than going offline completely.

Go live.

You have everything set-up, and you did a test run. You are ready to make your live stream! Since every live stream platform has live chat capabilities, make sure to answer your audience’s messages and comments and show that you appreciate their support.  Live-streaming without a doubt is the best way to engage with your audience and, from my experience, it has the best return on investment. Determine what content you wish to share and get streaming.

2 COMMENTS

  1. It can’t be stressed enough that network bandwidth is vital. What else is running on your network that may use up available bandwidth during your stream? We use BoxCast for our streaming needs and it will stream great 720p video at around 4mbps. 1080p requires about 6mbps and 4k requires at least 32mbps. It’s very simple and very easy to use. BoxCast is a plug and play solution which is why we choose to work with them.

  2. Now, this guide is good and all, but there are many key issues.
    1- Scripts. Don’t use the latter form of a script if you’re live streaming, unless you’re doing a skit or are reporting news.
    2- Length. The ideal stream for most people is far, far longer than 20 to 30 minutes. That is usually the time it takes to set up the stream or run a test stream to see if all your software is working. The ideal stream for most things (gaming, chatting, art, etc) is 1-2.5 hours. Anything longer is only really seen in charity streams and with some more popular streamers, and anything shorter is usually a test broadcast.
    3- Testing. It’s simply a bad idea to test earlier in the week. This is because situations can change throughout the week. Just because your internet/recording software is acting up on one day doesn’t mean it’s still going to be acting up the day of the stream. Testing around an hour before the stream is usually a good idea and is what most people do.
    This guide makes streaming seen a lot simpler and easier than it actually is. However, the equipment and WiFi sections are great advice for newer streamers. This guide needs work, but is overall alright.
    6.5/10

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