So You Want To Do A Live Show?

selective focus photography of gray stainless steel condenser microphone

I had a conversation with a friend of mine the other day, and he was asking me about what it takes to be in, or do, a live show.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far, and it doesn’t matter if you are doing your own channel and/or show, or if you are a guest on someone else’s show and/or channel:

  1. Microphone Etiquette: When you need to step away from your microphone, mute it. Nobody wants to hear you fighting with a bear in your living room, and nobody wants to hear you microwaving your food. If you really want to be professional, mute your microphone until you are about to speak. Nobody wants to hear you eating your crunchy munchy shit, or your bowl of cereal. Basically, unless you are about to speak, mute your microphone. A really good microphone, or even a shitty one can be extremely sensitive and can pick up literally anything and everything. Think about that toilet flush, that train in your backyard, your dog barking, cat meowing, or your family thumping around in the next room. All of that can and will be picked up on a sensitive microphone.
  2. Your camera: Turn it off when you leave it to do whatever it is that you need to do. Nobody cares about you eating your burrito, so don’t show them that you’re eating a burrito, unless that is what your show is about, then by all means, eat your burrito on camera. While we’re at it, for most shows, the viewers want to see you. Don’t leave your camera off for extended periods of time, unless you are wanting to do the whole anonymous thing. In this case, by all means, leave your camera off. If you do decide to show your face realize that the cat is now out of the bag and you don’t get to go back to being anonymous, because the internet never forgets. So choose wisely. You can be anonymous or you can show your face, but for the most part, you can’t do both. While we are discussing cameras, 720p minimum. You don’t need to go all fancy and go for 4k unless that is your thing, but 720p is where you want to start. 1080p is ideal in this situation. Especially if you want to create your own videos as well as be in a live show. Cameras that shoot in 720p or 1080p are done dirt cheap these days, so there’s really no excuse to have something of lesser resolution.
  3. Your connection: Hardwired or GTFO. Yes, in a pinch you can do it via wireless, and sometimes that may be your only option, but if at all possible, connect straight from your computer to your modem/router via an ethernet cable. That way you minimize the “chop” and the freeze ups. I can’t tell you how many times viewers will come on to see what you are up to, only to leave moments later, never to return again, because you or a guest had a shitty connection. You want viewers to show up and to keep them there? Start with a stable, fast connection. Anything else and they will go somewhere else, and fast. And getting them to come back? Good luck.
  4. Your background: This can be a tough one. Nobody wants to see something that is too “busy.” But then again, nobody wants to think that you live in a dark cave. Less can definitely be more in this scenario. It’s better to have a plain wall than to have a ton of shit behind you, but then again, it’s better to have something that can visually stimulate your viewers than a white-wash. That is why I prefer a green screen. You can put up whatever you want behind you then. It stimulates your viewers and you can use pretty much whatever you want. Ideally you want something that is not too busy, nor too plain, and is yours. Or at least something that you didn’t swipe off of the internet. Otherwise you could end up committing copyright infringement and there goes your show. Use a gradient if necessary. It’s easy to create, can’t be copyrighted for the most part, it’s simple, and it isn’t too busy or too plain usually.
  5. Your microphone: Yes, I covered microphone etiquette, but now I want to talk about your microphone itself. You don’t need to take out a second mortgage on your microphone, but literally anything is better than the one that is built into your computer or the one that is built into your earbuds. A decent microphone is worth its weight in gold. It can be the difference in sounding amateur and that you are doing or participating in a show from a tin can, and something that sounds half decent. If I can hear your car and the road noise, chances are I’m going to be distracted and not tune in to the rest of that episode. You sound “good,” and I’m not getting a lot of extraneous noise, I’m more likely to stick around for that episode and for future episodes. While I don’t think a high quality microphone is absolutely essential, especially when you are first starting out, it does matter. Get a decent one as soon as you can.
  6. What you say is more important than how you say it: What I mean by this is, your content is more important than your editing or any special effects. What you have to say is more important than that J or L cut, or that nifty fire effect that you added to your video or to your show. If you have nothing to say, all of the cuts, edits, and special effects in the world won’t cover up a crappy video or live show. Story, or content, is better than special effects.
  7. Be authentic: In today’s world, it’s really easy to hide behind filters, masks, background music, and even green screens. Your viewers are starving for authenticity. While you should work at minimizing your “umms” and “ahhs,” at the same time, don’t obsess over them. Work on reducing them for sure, but be authentic. While you may demonetize your video or show if you swear, at the same time, if that’s how you roll, then roll with it. Be relatable. Let your viewers know that you are human and that you make mistakes, just like them. They will relate and love you for it. It’s okay to screw up and make mistakes. Keep going. Move on. The show must go on.
  8. Be consistent: If you decide to do a show, or be a part of a show on whatever day and time of the week that you decide, then do it. Your viewers are counting on it. If you have to change your day and time for whatever reason, let your viewers know in as far as advance as possible. I get it, life happens. Things come up. Let them know as soon as you possibly can. And if you need to make a change for whatever reason, stick to the reschedule. Nobody likes an unpredictable showtime believe it or not. Randomness doesn’t pay off in this area. If you decide to do or be a part of a show on a certain day and time, make sure you honor that day and time. Your guests, co-hosts, and viewers will respect and love you more for it.
  9. Have fun: What’s the point in all of this if you are absolutely miserable? Whether you are doing a show to gain exposure, make money, or have your grab at “fame,” ideally you should be having fun. If you aren’t, you better take another look at why you want to do any of this.

That’s a good start for now I think. I’ll make more posts as things come up and as people chime in.

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