This article includes:
- Easy ways to get the best lighting for your live stream
- How to achieve high-quality audio for your streaming session
- Filming composition tips to make your live stream look polished & professional
- How to optimize your live stream by testing your live streaming tools and following-up with your audience
- Links to recommended live streaming equipment to help you easily create a top-notch live stream
Around the world, COVID-19 closures and shelter in place orders have taken a toll on service-based industries like beauty, fitness, and wellness. The global pandemic has prompted many business owners in these industries to quickly re-think and re-strategize their efforts to stay afloat during an uncertain moment in history. But because we’re living in the digital age, there’s a light of hope for business owners—taking select classes and services online. Live video is an effective way to earn income when you can’t see customers face-to-face. And because live streaming is providing “hands off” service in your “hands on” industry, it’s another way for you to maintain your customer connections so that when business resumes, they’ll be ready to see you in-person. Once you’ve set up the live video integration through your Vagaro account, you’re ready to start streaming. Here’s some tips, tricks, and tools to help you start streaming like a pro in no time!
The Set Up: Electronics & Tools to Start Streaming
Getting started is easier than you think! There are 3 basic tools you need to begin live streaming:
- A secure, stable internet connection
- A web-enabled device (smart phone, tablet, or computer with a webcam)
- A live streaming platform
Once you’ve set up your streaming platform, you’re ready to get started. There’s more to creating a video live stream than simply hopping on a session. To make sure that you provide value to your streaming audience and grow your viewers, you’ll need to deliver a quality virtual service. Here’s how lighting, audio, and simple filming techniques can take your video stream from locals to a global audience!
Light It Up
Lighting is as important for video as it is in photography. The more light, the better—and the brighter the light, the clearer the image. Most of the tips below don’t require any special equipment, but if you want to snag some specialized lighting gear, check out the links below in Tools of the Trade.
- The best source of lighting is absolutely free: natural light!
- Find the sunniest spot in the place where you’ll be streaming and set up your device to make the best use of it.
- Wherever you set up to live stream, try to make sure that your entire frame is evenly lit, which can be achieved by natural light, lighting equipment, or a combination of both.
- The day before your stream begins, check to make sure that the light in your filming space will be adequate for the time of day you’re scheduled to go live. Remember, the best lighting in a room is different at 9 a.m. than at 4 p.m.
- When filming, avoid positioning bright light (natural light or lighting equipment) behind you, because it’ll create a dark silhouette effect and make it difficult to see details in the frame.
- To make sure that the lighting you’re using doesn’t create harsh shadows on your face, check out this one-minute tutorial with Vagaro’s Creative Director Kitera!
- If your streaming set-up doesn’t provide enough natural light, try using daylight balanced (5600K) LED lights.
- LED lights are easy to find at most stores or online.
- LED ring lights provide great lighting for almost every indoor filming session.
Can You Hear Me Now?
Audio might be the most important part of a successful live stream. Even if your lighting, set up, and video quality is great, if your audio is muffled or distorted, your audience won’t stay tuned to your streaming session—or tune back in again.
- Before you begin streaming, perform a mic test to see if the mic on the device you’re using is powerful enough to provide clear, crisp audio.
- For optimal audio, use an external microphone in addition to your device—even earbuds with a microphone built into the cord will work.
- If you don’t have an external mic handy, make sure that your mouth is pointed directly towards the camera while speaking so that your audience can follow along even if the sound cuts out.
- Avoid any background noise while you’re live.
- Speak clearly and enunciate your words.
- If your live stream is structured as a conversation, pause frequently to allow others to enter the conversation, and ask participants to mute their microphone when they’re not speaking.
- For streaming fitness classes, music is a critical element, but it can cause feedback and distortion and make it difficult to hear instructions. If you don’t have an external microphone that you can attach to your body, try to make sure that your music is as low as possible and out of range from the camera where you’re streaming. This will prevent the camera mic from muffling all the audio and give you the cleanest audio possible.
- Because music playing in the background can muffle your voice, instead, encourage your audience to play their own music while they work out. However, before class begins, remind participants that if they’re playing their own music, they’ll need to keep their mic muted.
Professional Looking Live Streams Provide a Better Customer Experience
Having a plan to get the best lighting and audio is the first step to building a successful live stream. The next step is learning the techniques that ensure that the steps you’ve taken to get great lighting and audio really pay off!
- Whenever possible, use the front-facing camera on your phone or a webcam, to make sure the video stream is HD.
- Be mindful of the background where you’re filming—a busy wall design can distract your audience and make it difficult to see you. Whenever possible, film near a solid colored wall or background.
- Position the camera at a level angle, because up or downward angles may make it difficult for your audience to see you.
- Make sure your device is positioned so that the top of your head isn’t out of frame.
- Likewise, if you’re demonstrating a fitness technique, test beforehand to make sure your whole body is visible in the frame.
- Make frequent eye contact with the camera, the same way you would with a person.
- Keep your eyes fixed on the top third of the frame. If you’re using an iPhone, gridlines are accessible to use via the camera settings.
- Most built-in webcams aren’t high enough quality to deliver a live stream that really stands out, so if you’re planning to make live streams a part of your regular service menu, it might be worth it to invest in a quality external webcam.
- To make sure your camera remains steady throughout your live stream, consider a tripod that can support a web-enabled device or external webcam.
Testing Your Live Stream
Before you launch your first live stream, it’s critical to perform a “dry run” first to work out all the kinks. It’s harder to get your audience to tune in again if your live video has technical difficulties. A few days before your launch, schedule a practice stream with some trusted friends, booked for the same time your future audience will be joining. Then, perform the stream exactly as you would for customers, and ask your “beta testers” to report back any issues, such as shaky cameras, unnatural angles, poor lighting, or audio issues.
Following Up with Your Audience
Next, you’re going to want to test a follow up survey with your “beta testers” to collect valuable participant responses. After your trial live stream, use Vagaro’s form builder to get helpful feedback your “beta testers” about their experience. Your questions should cover:
- How easy (or difficult) it was for them to join your live stream
- What you need to do to improve the content, format, or quality of your live video
- What they liked or didn’t like and why
- Future classes, consultation types, or topics they’d be interested in seeing in the future
- The convenience of your scheduled live stream (day and time)
Remember to include blank fields so that your “beta testers” can give you specific feedback to ensure your first “real” live stream goes off without a hitch. Not only will their responses provide the information you need to measure the success of your live stream, but it’ll also help you schedule future video sessions at times where you’ll attract the largest audience. Then, when you begin live streaming for customers, follow up with participants after every remote session. The more feedback you have to work with, the more you can ensure your audiences have the best experience possible and want to join again!
Tools of the Trade: Equipment to Improve Your Live Stream
The tools linked below aren’t necessary to create a quality video, but if you plan on making live streaming part of your regular service or class menu, this equipment will help ensure the highest-quality, professional video possible.
Backdrop & Sound
- Background Port-A-Stand Kit
- Zapier Spotify Integration for Zoom – Streams music playlists you create for your audience
- Zapier tutorial
- Krisp –Noise-Cancelling App
Vagaro’s new live streaming integration makes it easy to give your customers the “hands on” service they deserve in a temporarily “hands off” world. Once the COVID-19 crisis has passed, your new live video platform affords you the ability to deliver convenient, accessible options for customers and earn additional income from the classes and services you’re already performing. Visit our support page for step-by-step guidance to get your Vagaro account set up to start streaming!
Images: Giorgio Trovato via Vagaro
Icons: Mia Montemayor via Vagaro