You’ve started your Vimeo Live membership, you’ve read through the pre-production points to master, but what about stepping in front of the camera and nailing your actual event? Sometimes it’s all in the subtleties: the right outfit, rehearsing your presentation, moving that potted plant three-inches to the left, and so on.

As more and more marketers, CEOs, and other professionals turn to live streaming to engage their community, we’re seeing a lot of people with no on-camera experience getting in front of the lens. That’s great news because live streaming is its own special format that anyone can own. It just requires some finesse. With live, professional doesn’t have to mean rigid. It should feel confident and trustworthy. A little practice (and attention to detail), and you’ll be growing your audience in no time.

This quick guide identifies some good — and often overlooked — practices to consider before smiling for the live camera.

Set the ambiance

Before going live, you’ll want to think about where your event is going to take place. Even if you’re live streaming from your office or home, ambiance matters. Remove clutter, balance the light, and think about the story you’re telling. This will help you connect with your audience, and create the right space.

Give your audience a captivating background, whether you’re shooting in a home studio with personal touches and decor, or in front of a backdrop. If you’re a professor and want that classic full bookshelf background, make sure your shelves are neatly arranged. Also, make sure when you’re standing in frame you don’t have a plant, or a lamp giving you a strange hairdo (depth of field can play tricks on the camera).

Oh, and don’t overlook your lighting. Your viewers should be able to see you as clearly as possible. If you’re using natural light, make sure you aren’t backlit by a big window or blown out by midday glare. If you’re using overhead or hot lighting take a few test shots and adjust your levels as necessary.

First impressions matter

Think strategically about your on-camera presence. When you’re live, you’ll need to keep your energy high to keep your viewers engaged. “Your enthusiasm is your best sales tool,” says Allison Shapira, founder and CEO of Global Public Speaking. This means bring the passion from the second you hit record, and sustain it through to the end of your event.

Something weird happens with humans when they’re placed in front of a camera. Most of us freeze up or go overboard with our energy. Really, the balance should feel easy and upbeat, like hanging out with a good friend. With a little practice, it’s not hard to achieve. Make sure your enthusiasm comes through, even it feels a little ridiculous at first. Before you start rolling, try out a few different styles and see what feels most natural.

You’ll also want to strike the proper amount of eye contact with your audience (or whoever you’re interviewing) the same way you would in an in-person conversation. Make sure your facial expressions and posture convey authority, trust, and interest.

Practice all of this a few days before your event to give yourself enough time to let your style develop organically. Just be authentic, and give it a shot. The more live events you do, the less and less intimidating it will feel each time.

On camera faSHUN

We know that floral button-down you picked up in Singapore is your go-to party outfit because it says who you are, but you’ll want to leave that on the hanger for your live event. You want your audience focusing on you, not on your outfit. You should still wear something that you feel confident in! But stick to solid colors, and more neutral patterns. Think about what best represents your brand, and what you’re trying to accomplish. Are you teaching a lecture series? Go with what you’d wear to a conference. Are you a fitness instructor? Stick with shorts and a t-shirt.

Speak up

Or at the very least, get more comfortable speaking. In keeping with a sense of enthusiasm, your live events will flow best when they feel polished, not forced. That means rehearse your talking points instead of memorizing a word-for-word script. Reading verbatim off a Powerpoint deck might be a lullaby to your viewers.

Be a storyteller. According to Gary Schmidt, former president of public speaking giant Toastmasters International, this is how you connect with your audience. “Telling personal, true stories is the best way to impart information and inspire others,” Schmidt says. Plus, it’s easier to speak to the gist of a few meaningful talking points than it is to remember a perfectly revised version.

Wrapping things up

While live streaming is an exciting, real-time medium, that doesn’t mean you should wing it. A little preparation, a couple rehearsals, and a wrinkle-free sweater go a long way toward engaging your audience.

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