In this installment of Friday Lives, host Anya Razina spoke with international speaker, trainer, teacher, and entrepreneur consultant Ian Anderson Gray. Ian helps entrepreneurs harness the power of live video and social media to grow their businesses. In addition to consulting and teaching, he’s also the host of the Confident Live Marketing podcast and the founder of the Confident Live Marketing Academy.

Anya and Ian spoke about live streaming with confidence — how to do it and why it’s beneficial. Owing to his background as a professional singer and teacher, along with his passion for tech, Ian has some great insights for any entrepreneurs or businesses that want to get started with live streaming.

🧐 Why do entrepreneurs need live video?

For Ian, live video is about establishing trust, sharing expertise, and generating leads. Today, so many businesses offer similar products and services for anything you or your company could need, often with similar quality. How do you choose? If one brand creates live content often, you feel like you’ve gotten to know them already, and you’re more likely to buy from them.

If I find somebody who comes on live regularly, who is being themselves, authentic, and real, I'm much more likely to buy from them because I feel I can get to know them.

Live video can also be easier to create than other types of content, such as blog posts. Once you’ve planned a live stream, all you have to do is hit that “go live” button and you’re creating content.

Who else benefits from live video?

Entrepreneurs and businesses aren’t the only ones who can benefit from live streaming, especially now during the pandemic. Ian thinks that anyone can make live video work for them, from real estate agents giving virtual house tours to restaurant owners doing a behind-the-scenes look at their kitchens. Gamers, educators, churches, activists, and many more groups can utilize live streaming too.

☝️ Always have a reason to live stream

Ian likes to ask himself why he’s streaming and if there’s ever a reason not to stream. Why are you going live? Just because you can? Are you doing it for fun? While these aren’t bad reasons, they may not motivate you as much as if you’re doing it for business.

Struggling on camera or not having a solid message might be reasons not to go live right away. You can build confidence on camera, though, by practicing and taking it one step at a time. Instead of streaming to YouTube, Twitch, LinkedIn Live, and Facebook Live all on your very first stream, start with just one platform. Over time, as you get better, you can add more streaming channels, using Restream’s multistreaming service.

You might be really passionate about live streaming, but you also need to think, ‘Why should I be doing live streaming?’

🤓 Ian’s first live streaming experience — and what you can learn from it

A reluctant streamer at the onset, Ian wasn’t always so excited to go live. He started using OBS Studio to go live on Facebook, but he did it from his computer and found it difficult to use. He wanted to write an article about how inaccessible the live streaming technology was and realized that if he wanted to write about it, he’d actually have to experience it.

For Ian, his very first live stream didn’t have to be perfect because he was still trying to figure out the technology. It was more of a learning experience than anything else. He says that approaching your first stream this way might make you feel less nervous if you’re hesitant to start.

I could tell you a lot of mistakes that I made, but the great thing is once I made those mistakes, I didn't make them again because I wrote them down and made sure that I added them to my checklist.

😤 How to handle live streaming mistakes when you’re first starting out

Everybody makes mistakes when they first start something new, live streaming included. It’s okay to get things wrong, as long as you only get them wrong once. Ian believes mistakes make you better because you learn from them. Learning from a mistake you’ve made yourself is much more valuable than by watching someone else.

How to not look inexperienced

For Ian, there are two types of problems live streamers come across: tech problems and human problems. Tech problems, like the microphone not working or the internet going down, can be avoided. It’s much easier to make a backup plan for tech issues than for the unpredictable human issues, like your cat jumping onto your desk or a coworker walking into your shot by mistake.

Ian says you should take these things in stride and even edit them into an outtakes video. These kinds of incidents aren’t planned, but they also show a more human side. It’s important to remember that most people struggle with going live and nobody is perfect. When you compare yourself to another streamer, you’re always doomed to fail. Rather than obsessing over what you look or sound like, think about your audience and the message you’re bringing them.

We’re actually worried about how we look and how we sound, and the audience doesn’t care about that. What they're interested in is just seeing you and your expertise.

💪 Steps to building confidence on live streams

Ignoring how you look and focusing on your message is much easier said than done for most people. Fortunately, Ian has tips on how to build the confidence you need to live stream:

  • Don’t go live right away: You don’t have to dive straight into YouTube Live, Facebook Live, or LinkedIn; there are other platforms. Instagram Live, for instance, is a great “starter” platform for live streaming because videos only last ten to fifteen seconds, and they disappear after 24 hours.
  • Don’t think about yourself: For Ian, it’s all about the value you’re giving your audience. When you keep your mindset on your message, you’ll feel less concerned about how you appear on camera.
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously: Most people won’t notice the small things you notice about yourself, like the fact that you haven’t gotten a haircut in a while. Cut yourself a little slack when it comes to your appearance because you’re almost always your harshest critic.
  • Join a group of likeminded people: Find people with similar goals and be accountable to them. They’ll check in on you, and you check in on them, so you all reach your streaming goals.
  • Be positive: When you’re overthinking, ask yourself why. Why are you comparing yourself to other streamers so much? Why are you obsessing over how you look? Be positive instead, and write down your affirmations.
  • Bring on guests: Having a second person live with you makes you feel less isolated and helps you relax. Tools like the Restream Studio are great for bringing live guests onto your show seamlessly.

👀 Where does confidence come from?

Ian is a confidence expert, so he shared his insights on where he thinks confidence comes from. Some people are energized by being in front of the camera, but most aren't. Most people have to work at being confident and engaging, which takes some time. And in many cases, authenticity means more than overenthusiasm, even when you’re struggling to be engaging.

Ian admits that he’s had to overcome shyness as a live streamer, but it’s gotten easier for him the more he’s done it. He’s also happy to share his story, but he stresses that everyone should find their confidence in their own way. The most important thing is to do what works best for you.

You don't have to be the same as other people; you just need to be you. There are things you can do to ramp up your energy whilst being yourself. I call that ‘heightened authenticity.’

More people struggle with confidence than you think

Ian finds it valuable to talk about confidence issues, because it affects everyone. Many streamers struggle with feeling confident when they go live, but you wouldn’t know it from watching them. In teaching and coaching for live streaming, Ian has seen people comparing themselves to others often. We need empathy and a dose of reality to understand confidence issues.

😏 Live streaming when English isn’t your first language

Some people who don’t speak English as a first language are worried about their language skills when it comes to live streaming. For them, Ian has two solutions: a mindset solution and a technical solution.

  • Mindset solution: It’s natural to worry about grammar and pronunciation in a second language, for live streaming or anything else. But just like with building confidence, remember that your message is more important than how you look or sound. Try to distance yourself from people who make negative comments about your accent.
  • Technical solution: If your accent is strong and people have a hard time understanding you, try to speak more slowly and work on your diction. Ian recommends warm-up exercises to practice diction and pitch, which both native speakers and non-native speakers can benefit from.

💬 What’s the best way to repurpose live content for later use?

How you repurpose live video depends on the tools and platforms you use to go live or to share the repurposed content. Ian suggests keeping a copy of every stream you do, so you can edit and share snippets on IGTV, Facebook, Twitter, and across social media. If you want to add captions to your edited snippets, Ian suggests

When you live stream from Restream Studio, a recording of your stream is automatically saved, plus you can download a clean audio file for podcasts. You can also approach content in the opposite direction and turn recorded content into live content. Restream Events, for instance, lets you pre-record your videos and push them live onto your preferred platforms.

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📹 Which is better: live or recorded content?

For Ian, both live and recorded content are necessary — a great reason to repurpose your live streams! Ian uses himself as an example, saying that he streams to YouTube and has good engagement from his live audience. But when he saves those videos and posts them for replay on YouTube, they’re 45 minutes long. Not everyone wants to watch a video that long. So, how you use live and recorded content together depends on how long your streams are.

Ian’s recommendation is to grow your YouTube channel by live streaming once a week or every two weeks, then adding a pre-recorded video from three to ten minutes long.

😷 How video calls have changed in the era of COVID-19

Ian has definitely seen a change in how people treat video calls since the start of the pandemic. People started embracing live video more during COVID, mostly because they were forced to. With everyone working remotely and using video calls, the bar gets raised for live streaming presentations and meetings. Those who are more comfortable in front of the camera or who have more energy are more engaging.

The days of just sharing your PowerPoint presentations and speaking with a very boring voice are over, because we are moving to everything being virtual.

🤩 Ian’s tips for standing out on social media

It’s tough to stand out on social media, Ian admits. But it’s doable. His four steps are:

  1. Be yourself. When you embrace who you are, you’ll have less competition.
  2. Make valuable content. Share your personal experiences because your audience could relate to them and find them valuable.
  3. Raise the bar professionally. With today’s live streaming and video tools, it’s easier than ever to make a professional-looking show. If you can, upgrade to a nicer camera and microphone, and use branding and overlays.
  4. Make it fun. Look for ways to make your content more fun. For example, Ian does a new theme song for each of his episodes.

🔥 The 5 most important factors for creating an engaging live stream

Ian’s five factors for engaging live streams go by the five Ps:

  1. Planning
  2. Pre-promotion
  3. Production
  4. Post-promotion
  5. rePurposing

The most important of these is Production, which focuses on the type of live show you want to do:

  • Behind-the-scenes
  • Local (highlighting a business in your area)
  • Day in the life (a sneak peak, a typical day for you)
  • Sharing something you’re working on (a new feature or product)
  • Tips and pillar content

The structure of your live stream is also important, so always plan a general outline for your live stream. You don’t have to read off a script, but write down the main topics you want to cover so you can easily get back on track if you get distracted.

😎 How to become a brand ambassador

Ian is a brand ambassador, and he offers some basic advice for those who want to do the same. He says to put out a lot of content and be consistent. The quality of your content is important, but brands want to know that they can rely on you.

You should also go into detail, do your research, and make yourself an expert in what you’re talking about. Having a good audience (viewers who are engaged) is essential too. To work on branding, Ian suggests a great resource, the book KNOWN: The Handbook for Building and Unleashing Your Personal Brand in the Digital Age by Mark Schaefer.

😇 Ian’s epiphany moment

Ian didn’t start as a live video consultant for entrepreneurs, but he worked his way up to it. As a youngster, Ian loved singing, science, and technology, but he couldn’t study all three at university. So he chose to train in opera as a classical singer. He started traveling around the U.K., performing as a soloist and teaching. He eventually started getting more into helping entrepreneurs with live video.

He was at the Social Media Marketing World conference in 2016 and participated in a live musical show with other conference attendees. The moment he realized he could combine all his talents, experience, and passion came during the musical. He could use his performing background as a singer, his teaching background, and his love of tech to coach people on live video and social media.

After his epiphany moment, it took Ian a few years to put all the pieces of his new career together to get to where he is now (success doesn’t happen overnight!).

“I could use all my experience as a performer with my experience as a teacher, with my experience in tech, and that would be a real career killer combination.”

🙌 Let’s wrap up

Ian Anderson Gray had some great insights and advice for any live streamer who wants to build confidence in front of the camera. Some of the highlights from his conversation with Anya are:

  • Why entrepreneurs (and most business owners) need live video
  • Always have a good reason to go live
  • What you can take away from Ian’s very first live streaming experience
  • How to handle live streaming mistakes when you’re first starting out
  • Steps for building confidence on-screen
  • Where confidence comes from
  • How to live stream in English if it’s not your first language
  • The best way to repurpose live content for later use
  • Why you need both live and recorded content
  • How video calls have changed in the era of COVID-19
  • Tips for standing out on social media
  • The five most important factors for creating an engaging live stream
  • How to become a brand ambassador
  • How Ian combined his passions and experiences into his career as a live video consultant for entrepreneurs

Big thanks to Ian for appearing on Friday Lives, and we hope you learned as much from him as we did!