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Keeping your audience engaged means you have to actively give people a reason to interact with you. If your live stream is just a video of yourself with no visual aids or pauses, audiences will have a hard time giving you their full attention. Remember they are likely on their computers so it’s easy to visit some websites or work on other work while watching your live stream. So to get their undivided attention means you have to make them feel like they’re missing out if they aren’t watching.
Address your audience
Even though it may feel like you’re talking to a brick wall, your audience is out there watching so you have to make them feel like they too are being heard. No one wants to feel like they’re watching alone in a silo so it’s important to address your audience as often as makes sense.
One tip is when answering questions via live chat, make sure to actually use the name of the person you are answering. The same goes for when people are joining your live stream, don’t be afraid to call them out and say, “hi” and thanks for joining.
If people aren’t asking questions keep requesting feedback to make sure they know they are encouraged to ask questions. If you consistently run into the problem of not having enough questions, see if you can’t have a few people pre-ask questions. You can do this in part of the promotion aspect of your live stream i.e. when you are promoting your event on social ask people to ask questions in the comments so you can already have a list before your stream so you don’t have to sit through an awkward silence where no one is asking.
Make sure your content is relevant
To keep your audience engaged your content must be relevant and even more importantly what they expect. Don’t say you’ll be talking about one thing and the day of, decide to change the topic. People have expectations and if they go in thinking they’ll be hearing about one thing and then it’s something else, you’ll lose them.
The best way to create relevant content is to first ask your audience what they are the most interested in hearing about. Hopefully, there is some overlap and you can begin either with that topic or build out more of a plan.
I think the best way to keep content relevant is by developing a strategic plan. Make sure there is not only flow within each episode but also over a few months. I like to plan out on a two-month basis and start with a specific content bucket or section. So for two months, you will talk about one thing. For example, let’s say your live stream is about how to train puppies. It might make sense to have your first section be “before you even adopt” so every week you’d go over things they should be aware of before they even go to the kennel. Now two months is an arbitrary amount of time, don’t fill this up with fluff content just to hit the 2-month milestone.
Then the next section could post-adoption and again for a few weeks you talk about this single time frame. Now, this can seem a little linear so if people don’t start up with you right away can they still be engaged? The answer is yes. They may be preparing for the future and there is always the option for them to go back and watch videos on demand.
Make it fun
This starts with you, the broadcaster. Make sure you set everything up to be fun for yourself too. If you’re having a good time, your audience will too. If things go wrong, laugh along and roll with the punches just as you would in person. Even if there is something going on on your end that your audience can’t necessarily see, bring them in. Let them know that a raccoon just got in through the dog door and you’ll need to take a brief pause. It makes the whole presentation feel like it’s more emotionally connected rather than having someone stutter and pause the live show without reason. If you bring people in, they’ll likely hang around until you get yourself sorted where if you give no reasoning they won’t be emotionally invested enough to stay.
Make it visually appealing
Lastly, make your presentation visually appealing. The temptation of switching between tabs is strong when watching live streams so you need to be constantly thinking of ways to keep your audience looking at their screens. Use keywords like, “you have to see this,” or “I’m going to show a short clip that you won’t want to miss.” Make them feel like if they turn away, they’ll miss something important.
When not online you’re likely already doing all of the above. But it’s important not to forget that even though it may feel different talking to an audience you can’t see, their expectations are still the same. By checking off each one of these tips your audience will stay with you through your whole stream and what’s more, is that it makes it a lot more fun for you.