Congratulations on jumping into the world of live streaming through social media. Being fairly new and with many factors to take into account, this way of delivering a message can be extremely useful when used and done correctly. This post will focus on the equipment and technical aspects of a live stream to ensure the hardware you are using works in sync when the time arises. A pretty large aspect that you don’t have to worry about when presenting live! Some of these tips may seem obvious, but can easily be overlooked, which can lead to technical difficulties and a sub par stream. We will start with the key tool in your arsenal, your streaming device.
1. Make sure your computer or device is focused on the live stream:
A live stream can take its toll on a computer/phone/tablet’s performance, it isn’t a huge task, but it can easily be disturbed if there are other applications taking up its performance capacity. As a rule of thumb, it is smart to close all unnecessary applications and windows on your browser to allow your computer to focus on the most important task, the live stream. Doing so also ensures no pop-ups come up unexpectedly, which is a reason to keep connected to a power source during the live stream or at least having a full charge. Such a simple proactive measure can reduce the chance of an issue arising, allowing for a fluid and watchable live stream.
2. Ensure a strong internet connection:
Technical difficulties are a killing blow to any live event. Having a strong WiFi connection with high bandwidth is a must, but using an ethernet cable has multiple benefits. To start with, WiFi signals can be disrupted by other signals and are much easier to be disrupted by outside elements, whereas an ethernet connection is secured through the cable. Computers also tend to continue to search for other WiFi sources which can cause dips in connection speed, affecting the live streams. Though you lose the flexibility of no wires, you are reimbursed with a consistent connection that has a much lower chance of interruptions.
If you are unable to use an ethernet cable, and you have to use WiFi, it is crucial to be as close as possible to the router as this increases the internet speed and reduces the chances of interference by people or objects. You would be surprised at how much difference three walls can make on a WiFi signal without a booster. Additionally, it is recommended to have as few as possible devices connected and using the WiFi at that time, as this can strain the bandwidth and the quality of your stream.
3. Backup your files for later use:
By backing-up your live stream, you are able to reuse the media as a Video-on-Demand (VoD) resource that can be used on its own as a way for people to catch up on the subject, or use parts of it in other future posts, boosting viewership and the profitability of the video. This can be helpful to take into account when laying out the live-stream agenda so that it can be used in the future. If you know there will be a special effect used now that could be used again, make sure to put the effort into it so that it comes out perfectly and doesn’t need to be redone in the future.
Backing up doesn’t just apply to the files themselves, it also can be done for the equipment used. Having backup recording equipment can be a stream saver if things go south for one reason or another. It is always better to have an extra and not need it than not having one and the need arise.
4. Shoot in both HD and SD:
Many make the mistake of shooting only in HD for videos and live streams as it looks the best and shows their product or message in the best possible light. The issue with this is that not everyone has the ability to watch in HD and it limits the reach of your content. Additionally, keep in mind that you should be streaming at half of your total upload speed, which can be found by using an internet speed test such as SpeedTest.com. This ensures you can stream at the bit rate you want. As an example, say you are uploading a 0.5 megabyte (MB) SD version and a 3 MB HD version. Your total upload will be 3.5 MB and this would mean a total upload speed of 7 MB would be needed to stream without issues.
5. Test your broadcast:
Now, this may seem obvious, but testing your broadcast before going live is an absolute must. Not running a test is like going Scuba diving without checking your gear. It might work for the dive down to 30 metres, but once there you may find out that it doesn’t have as much air as you thought it did!
Ideally, you should run a full test at the venue you will be recording at. This should include all of the necessary equipment, the internet, lighting, etc. This gives you time to be proactive instead of reactive, and increases your chances of a smooth live stream!
These five simple tips on live-streaming can save a broadcast from wasting your time and resources, and more importantly, your viewers time and attention. Having a reliable live-stream is something to be proud of, but the equipment and technical aspects are just part of the equation. We will be sure to provide another string of tips related to the individual social media channels and other important factors of live streams in the future.
Also, know that many don’t get their first live stream right, but fear not, we can help ensure a smooth stream that will please all who watch! Just drop us a message and we will be sure to get back to you on what the next steps can be!