5 minutes, really?

5 minutes, really? Yes. Really. Or less. And you can even use a digital timer these days.

You might know that I recently hosted a 36-hour webcast to break a world record. What you might not know is that prior to this event, I had never hosted a webcast before. But believe it or not, these days it’s so easy to host a webcast, you can do it in 5 minutes or less. Here’s how.

Choose a webcast topic

Choosing your webcast topic is your first priority. What do you want to talk about? More importantly, perhaps, what does your audience want to hear? Once you choose your topic, give it a cool, sexy title so that your audience gets intrigued and really wants to hear more.

Choose a format

You can host your webcast alone or bring in other speakers. You can present live on camera or you can use Powerpoint. Knowing your format will guide much of the next steps in your process.

Choose a webcast technology

Choosing your technology is pretty simple. It’s a matter of evaluating your audience and your level of technological sophistication and weighing your options. You’ll want to answer a few questions:

  • Where does your audience hang out? (if your audience hangs out on Ustream or Spreecast already, then that’s a perfect place to start)
  • Do you want your webcast to be public? (GoToWebinar and Spreecast give you privacy options, for example)
  • How stable do you need the platform to be? (some platforms are more stable than others)
  • How sophisticated are you technologically? (certain platforms are easier than others- Streamhoster might have a learning curve, while other platforms like Ustream or Spreecast are designed to be simpler)
  • Do you need multiple speakers on camera? (sites like Spreecast allow you to have up to four people on camera at one time)
  • Do you want to use Powerpoint? (GoToWebinar makes it super-easy to use Powerpoint, while others may require some plug-ins to make it possible to view your desktop)

Run a test

Before you go live and in front of the public, you’ll want to run a test. In my case, we ran tests and training sessions for all of the speakers to make sure everyone had working technology and knew how to use the system we chose. Running a test in advance of your webcast means you avoid any embarrassing missteps during the live event.

Get on camera

Believe it or not, I had never hosted a webcast before my record-breaking event. Sure, I’d done webinars, but those were live trainings using Powerpoint. I was never on camera. For awhile before the event, I was nervous. But when I did the training sessions and tests with my speakers, I realized a few things. First, I saw that I wasn’t in this alone. That’s one of the advantages of including other speakers in your event. Second, I realized that everyone involved in my event wanted me to succeed. They were excited to be a part of it and wanted it to go well…for all of us!

On-screen Tips

Now, when you do get on camera, there are a few tips. I actually learned these from Mike Michalowicz, author of The Pumpkin Plan, who I interviewed for my Legends of Mega-Success program and Business in Blue Jeans Radio.

Mike told me to look straight at the camera. Don’t look away. That’s true, for the most part. I’ve now watched 36 hours of great speakers doing a webcast and I can safely say that they looked right into that camera, pretty much the entire time.

At first, I found it pretty hard to focus on the camera exclusively. I was always distracted by my picture on the screen. But you get used to it. It gets easier. The more you do it, the easier it is to stop looking at that ridiculous photo of yourself and checking your hair as if you were looking in a mirror.

Mike also told me to talk to the camera like it’s a friend. That’s also good advice. Just make sure you pretend you’re talking to a friend who likes you and who you’re not too comfortable with (lest you begin using inappropriate language that doesn’t fit a professional setting, assuming this is a professional webcast you’re putting on).

And now that I’ve been on-screen for an absurd number of hours, I have a few tips of my own to add to Mike’s advice.

When you run your test, check your background. It’s cool to have a stack of great books on your desk, but creepy when you have a lot of clutter in the background.

When you go on-camera, while you don’t have to look perfect, do look presentable. Take some time to comb your hair and wear a clean shirt. At the least.

Most importantly…

Don’t be afraid of webcasting. It’s a simple and fun way to connect with your audience, and lets them get to know you a lot better than if you were hiding behind a Powerpoint presentation. So jump in, get on camera, and have some fun!

Got video or webcasting tips of your own? Share ’em! I’ve hosted a 36-hour webcast, but I’m a work in progress!