you, the columnist
A media expert I know suggested to me that columnists such as you and I ought to go on Facebook Live and read our work aloud.
But that night, I went home, turned on blue lights in my backyard, and launched the “Sunday Night Blue Light Special.” I hit the Facebook Live button and started talking. Smiling. Joking. Cajoling.
I don’t read the column. I share the story behind the story, create a few funny props when I can, show pictures, and talk to the audience as friends.
I don’t know why I didn’t think of this sooner.
It’s the most fun I have all week.
If you have a smartphone, you can do this.
Here’s the routine:
Topic: Over the weekend, I decide what would be most fun to talk about. A column or an experience? What is helpful? What could lead to a positive call to action?
Promo: I announce the subject of that night’s video Sunday afternoon (around the time the big football game ends) on social media platforms. 8 pm Central Time.
Setup: Around 7 pm, I bring my “studio box” outside. I pull out the tools. An umbrella light I bought cheap on Amazon. A tripod that holds a smartphone. A Wi-Fi extender for a stronger signal.
There’s a microphone that connects to the phone. A few photos to show. A glass of water for dry mouth.
Thumbnail: I shoot some test video and use it to snip a thumbnail photo for later use. Otherwise, Facebook will pick a thumbnail and it won’t be good. Customize it.
Dress rehearsal: My first video of the night goes only on my camera roll. It’s about five minutes in length. Serves as a backup. (Later, I’ll also upload it to LinkedIn and IGTV, which is Instagram’s new “TV” channel.)
Full dress rehearsal: As soon as that one is done, I make a second video. This one is live on Twitter – about five minutes long.
Show time: At 8 pm precisely (I get complaints if I’m a minute late). I go live on my public Facebook profile page (facebook.com/dave.lieber/) and go for about seven minutes. After the previous two dress rehearsals, I’m more confident and relaxed.
Post: After the video ends, I post it on that Facebook page, where people can catch it in rerun. I also share the video’s URL (right-click) on other Facebook pages and groups I’m in. I upload the camera roll version to IGTV and LinkedIn. I repost again a few days later.
Everything goes back in the studio box.
It’s not the smoothest operation. I’m learning as I go.
Last Sunday, a friend asked, “Did you know your video is sideways?”
Thank goodness for the backup.
A few tips:
– Open with something great so people don’t leave.
– Develop one strong, main point, and make sure the headline reflects this.
– Maintain good eye contact with the camera.
– Use humor and props when appropriate.
– Smile. Be happy. Enjoy yourself.
Reasons to do this:
– This Sunday-night routine instills discipline and serves as good practice for communication skills.
– It’s another way to build an audience.
– It serves a writer well to learn how to boil a good story down for video.
– A writer can show rather than tell the story behind the story.
– Feedback from the public is immediate.
– Some would rather watch you than read you.
– If your work is stuck behind a paywall, this is another way for fans to get access to your interests (which should be their interests, too).