My Live Streaming Journey Entry #3

The most amazing thing about live streaming is how the tools empower me. I’m able to broadcast a studio-type show with little effort.

Back when I worked for ABC, I worked with millions of dollars of equipment and large production staff. No one speculated that we’d one day have the power of a broadcast station available to us for a few thousand dollars.

I’ve even broadcasted online using my iPhone. The power and quality in my phone exceed that of WLSU-TV’s studio, where I cut my teeth years ago at university. The equipment we have is marvelous.

But having great equipment at my disposal doesn’t alter the one thing that can’t be bought. An audience’s interest.

Finding Your Audience

We can all create content. But if no one is on the other side of the broadcast, why produce?

There is a big warning on the opposite side of the spectrum too. Altering your content to draw in an audience will dissolve your passion for the project. Too often creators shift what they are doing for the sake of numbers.

They soon realize their work lacks the innate message that energized their beginnings. Creators lose sight of what got them out of bed in the morning. They forget the importance of why they launched their show.

If you have an audience of 500,000 fans, you can create most of the moderate projects that pop into your head. Half that number of viewers have launched many careers. But how do you find the people that support your dreams?

Dreaming in a Bubble

I’ve written 14 books and published five. My first book sold two copies. Two people I didn’t know bought my book. It was my most heartfelt work and none of my family or friends bought it.

The book failed. It took many hours to write from the depths of my soul and I couldn’t find more than two people interested in the topic. The book came from my heart, not from the needs of an audience.

I realized that there was a fine line between writing what you know and finding the right audience.

With live streaming, you put your heart into your show and then wonder how to get it to the right audience. Where do they exist? It makes me wonder if I dream dreams inside of a bubble.

Social Media Marketing

Some suggest I step up my social media push. The experts tell me that I need to publish promotions 40 times per week. That effort would take me 3-times more effort than the creation of the content.

There are shortcuts to trim back the amount of time required. But I struggle with spending twice the production time on promoting a show. Especially since I’m a creator and not someone who wants to spend more time selling.

A few folks get a satisfying break. One of their social media clips goes viral. Overnight several million people know their content exists.

Somehow the audience found them. Life changes and they can hire a staff to handle social media marketing. Their proverbial train soon heads down the track at faster and faster speeds.

They have to consider creating what’s in their heart or derivative content for the audience.

Fun vs. Life-Changing Content

I’ve talked with dozens of streamers who make 6, 7, and 8-figure salaries. Few of them held tight to their passion and content. Most changed directions for bigger paychecks.

One woman was passionate about her dream content. She believed the ideas were a gift from God. She made $120,000 a year promoting what she called her “life-changing” content.

Then, one of her off-the-wall videos went viral and life changed.

She now produces off-the-wall videos and makes over $3 million a year. When I asked about her early passionate content, she clarifies that no one supported it. She now focuses on what people support.
I understand.

You can bet that I will never write a deeply passionate book again since only two people bought my first book. It doesn’t make sense to put in hundreds of hours for two people.

Find A Supportive Audience

This is where life gets tough. Lamont Boyd and I have been “helping” fathers for three years. We’ve been sharing on our live streaming show, “Just 2 Dads Talking.”

I’ve also worked with Christine Crow and Marty Jalove. We’ve been creating a show to help develop good communicators and leaders. The show is “Brown Bag’n It.”

Neither show has broken even. Both shows will get canceled by noon on Christmas Eve. Well, unless we get enough funds to extend the shows.

But, finding donors or sponsors within the next two weeks seems unrealistic.

We weren’t able to build a sizable audience with our mere start-up funds. Nothing we did went viral to catch the attention of supportive fans. Nor have the fans spread word about the shows.

Surviving in this media-rich society is all about building an audience. You either find your audience and they support you, or you don’t. We did not.

This is my last entry on my live streaming journey—unless a miracle happens before noon on Christmas Eve.

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Nerves Rocked My Chances

The contest had officially started. My nerves were so strong that I couldn’t imagine winning the “Evaluation” competition. Yet, the event would only take ten minutes and determine my future.

Should I quit now and pretend that I lost my Internet connection to the online contest?

My stomach churned in agony. Fear and anguish replaced my thoughts. I was about to go down, and I hadn’t even taken my turn.

Evaluation Competition

The contest goal is to find the best person to give positive and critical feedback to new public speakers. After the target speaker talks, the competing evaluator gets 2-3 minutes to share their observations. They also share a couple of recommendations to help the target speaker learn how to improve their techniques.

I was at the Area Contest. That means those competing had already won in their local community. So I was up against the best in the area.

Imposter Syndrome

A friend sent me a chat before the program started. She sent friendly words of encouragement.

My response came from my focus—my nerves. So, first, I shared how nervous I was.

She responded with a quick reminder of who I was and my capabilities.

I felt the impostor syndrome attempting to make its way into my thoughts.

The impostor syndrome is a psychological pattern that causes us to doubt our skills and accomplishments—the syndrome forms from a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud.

I foolishly rebutted the compliment with a chat clarifying how my nerves were getting the best of me.

There was no reply. My friend knew I was stuck in my head and couldn’t see reality regardless of who I was or how highly she respected me. So she was right not to respond.

Battle of the Brain

Many a battle was lost before the fighting ever started. Our mindset can make or break our chances by dwelling on a single thought designed to tear us down. The lack of reply forced me to realize that I had entered a new battle.

My mind flashed with pros and cons. Could I save face by stepping down and letting my backup take over?

The contestants were moved into the virtual breakout room. The host shared the rules with us and pointed out that the woman in the room was an incredible competitor and had won numerous times before. He jokingly warned us that we were about to lose and suggested there was still time to step down to avoid a brutal beating.

Since many a truth is said in jest, was this highly respected man allowing us to quit?

The host drew our names to determine the order in which we would share. I was to be the first speaker. That meant everyone else would have 5-10 minutes more time to prepare their evaluation—plenty of time to craft a great response.

The Courageous Battle Rages

A couple of dozen people filled the virtual space to watch the competition. Several were very experienced speakers and dignitaries. I was feeling overwhelmed and out of place. I was desperate for a healthy perspective.

Years ago, a teacher told me, “…God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” The word discipline popped into my mind. At that moment, I understood that I needed courage.

I understood courage to be the ability to do something while still feeling fearful. But, unfortunately, the fear wasn’t going to go away until I started sharing my views on the target speaker’s talk.

At that moment, I steeled my will to move forward.

My Evaluation Presentation

I listened intently to what the speaker shared and gathered my thoughts. I had two dozen ideas of how she could improve her message. The problem was us having only enough time to speak to two or three of the items.

But realizing there was a commonality in some of the items, I grouped my thoughts based on her ability to captivate the audience, provide concise content, and her appearance on camera.

The speaker was thrilled to receive such practical advice. She accidentally voiced her excitement during my evaluation. Realizing her microphone was still on, she turned it off and took notes.

Contest Results

The host interviewed the contestants before the results were announced. The host also interviewed the target speaker, and everyone noticed she had already taken some of my advice.

I was happy that I could make a positive impact on her life. I didn’t need to win because seeing the woman’s improvements made my day.

I was startled to hear my name announced as the winner. I was not expecting it. Nor did I feel worthy of it.

Why?

Because when I realized my nerves were going to be there regardless of my competition, I chose to be courageous and focused on helping the target speaker improve. When I forced myself to focus on her needs, I no longer had anything to fear. The moment was no longer about my worth at all, but the speaker’s value.

My nerves turned into energy that boosted my clarity. I was then able to speak in a way that mattered for the target speaker. She even got excited about what she was learning. And she implemented a couple of suggestions immediately.

The Future

I’m now headed to the Division Contest. I will be going head-to-head with my podcast co-host Lamont Boyd. That’s right; he had entered the same competition and won at his community and area levels. It’s his goal to get to the district level and then beyond.

It’s my goal to encourage the next target speaker. I want to give recommendations that can be implemented and will improve the target speaker’s life.

I’m pretty sure that my decision to be courageous during the past contest will soften my nerves for the next competition. But if not, I’ll still compete to help the target speaker advance their speaking career.

What do you need courage for this week?

My LIVE Streaming Journey Entry #2

The goal was to write more often about my journey in the live streaming world. My lack of writing came from a sense of overwhelm. Now that I’ve surfaced for air, I want to share more of my experiences.

Back in my early 20s, I worked at an ABC affiliate station doing live news broadcasts. This included the nightly news, local sportscasts, and prerecorded shows using a live format. This type of work was invigorating for many, but I felt stressed.

To avoid the stress, I took as many production jobs as I could get. These allowed for multiple takes until we were satisfied with the results. Stress was only involved during those sporadic 16-hour days.

No Stress in Live Streaming

I originally thought the live streaming shows would be as stressful as broadcast television. But it wasn’t. The difference might be in the audience’s expectations. Everyone knows that something technical will go wrong or pop up unexpectedly. It’s a given.

You learn to react with speed and roll with the punches. No one cares about the glitch that happened.

At first, I couldn’t understand why. Then it dawned on me. The audience is more interested in authenticity than polish.

Broadcasters vs. Streamers

When little glitches happen in real life, everyone sees it as a moment based on the human condition. But when they watch a television broadcast, the expectation is that the news is planned and the anchors are polished. Any deviation suggests inauthenticity.

When an amateur streams a live show, glitches are expected. If the show is too glitch free, then the audience becomes uncomfortable. A glitched environment allows the viewer to believe they actually know the on-camera personality.

Streamers are expected to be authentic. Most speak from their passionate heart. Their conversational approach is all about a personal connection with their viewers. This is something broadcasters can’t do, or choose not to do.

Interactivity

To improve our connections with the audience, we allow for questions and comments during our live show. When a question is asked that might help others, we address it live during the show. In other words, the audience’s interactivity, to some extent, can alter the direction of the show based on their needs.

This makes the show feel like it’s a two-way conversation. The show’s host must stay on their toes to keep on topic. But if they fail, it’s okay—since failure means the conversation lands exactly where the audience wants it.

Hmm, then is that really failure?

It is certainly not the type of failure associated with stress. This new medium causes failure to endear you more closely with your audience. And, when your show seamlessly exceeds, the audience feels grateful for your shared knowledge.

Check Us Out

Come join me during one of the live shows I host/co-host. Feel free to write comments and questions. We’ll do our best to answer all live questions within the show.

Brown Bag’n It
Tuesdays at Noon Central Time on YouTube

(~45-minutes in length) We feature sand interview an expert in various areas of life. The topic is always centered around leadership and/or communication. The show also has an educational segment for youth developing leadership skills. The hosts are me, Christine Crow, and Marty Jalove.

Just 2 Dads Talking
Sundays at 3:00pm Central Time on YouTube

(~35-minutes in length) Lamont Boyd and I chat about common topics that dads, single dads, and granddads face. Our topics encourage and inspire dads with confidence when addressing those awkward situations with their kids, spouses, and other family members.

CJ’s Corner
Saturdays at 8:30am Central Time on YouTube

(~20-minutes in length) It helps you craft stories that captivate, engage, and influence your audience. The topics range from work to family to community related issues. Past topics have included how to create video memoirs, designing a room based on story, presenting memorable ideas in a business meeting.

I’ll look, forward to connecting with you live online!