1. CHOOSE YOUR DEVICE AND FIND YOUR FRAME
“Understand the technology you are using, practise and play with it until you get it right,” advises Program Director Glen Ostergaard. “Or, have someone at home who can help you set things up. I had my wife Sarah who understood it luckily, because I had no idea!”
Choose which platform will best suit your live stream. “Zoom is great,” adds Glen, “although Facebook offers a better quality of music sound than Zoom.”
The camera at the back of your device will deliver a better quality of video, although you may want to check you’re staying in shot with the front lens. The normal layout to choose is Landscape, although Instagram and Facebook require Portrait.
“Position the phone at eyelevel,” says fellow Program Director Lisa Osborne. “Make sure you’re in full shot then give yourself a floor marker to stay on. If you need to go to the floor then make sure you’re still in shot or know how to quickly adjust the camera to stay with you.”
2. PREPARE THE ROOM
“Take the time to set up the room, have a clean background and clear any clutter away from camera shot,” says Glen. “Turn off any other devices that may ding or ring,” adds Lisa, “and tell the family no interruptions between X and Y.”
Choose a quiet room that won’t echo and check your Internet speed: the ideal reading is 10 Mbps, but you can work with 5 Mbps as a minimum.
3. SUSS OUT SOUND AND LIGHTING
“When you are live streaming, audio quality is a must!” says Program Director Gandalf Archer Mills. “There are fantastic free streaming solutions out there that, with a little bit of learning, totally lift your streaming game. I’ve recently become best friends with a piece of software called OBS, which is free and lets you do many different things to create a better experience for your viewers. Example: it lets you pull in a HQ feed of the audio you want to stream out, so the people on stream hear your actual music, not the speakers in your room.”
For those of us less technically minded, using a Bluetooth speaker may be your best bet to play your music on. Before you deliver a live class, run a test where you record yourself coaching to the music; this will help you achieve the right balance between your voice and the music level.
When you are positioning your camera, ensure the light source is behind the camera and falling directly onto your face. This will avoid any silhouette or unintentional Blair Witch Project-like effects...
4. TEST IN ADVANCE
“Get someone you trust to test and test again with you,” suggests Instructor Denise Shirley Carter. “I have created more Zoom meetings in the last month than I probably ever will again in my lifetime, just from testing and re-testing. Be prepared that once you get it right, something may not work when you go live and you’ll need to be ready to adapt. I was sure I had everything right last week, and then I went live, and people only saw my ‘alternate’ user, which was the music only. I had to just talk them through it.”
“If you’re using Zoom, use the 'record' function to play it back as a test,” adds Instructor Nicole Volpe Miller. “This will show how your voice/music levels are sounding to your participants and also surface any delays between the sound and video.”
Use color with caution; avoid black, white and bright red, or any colors that blend in with the background. It’s also advisable to give shiny fabrics and busy patterns a miss (sorry yogis!). Lisa also has some valuable advice to those of us teaching cardio programs: “Do up your shoelaces twice!”
6. CONNECT WITH YOUR CLASS
Just like teaching a live class, the connection begins before you all start moving together. “We try to set up and create a ‘pre-class experience’ like we normally would with music and back and forth chatter,” says Instructor Melissa Ann Smith. Fellow Instructor Kat Cannella agrees: “Get on a few minutes early and chat with the participants like you would normally would before class. Before you end the call, give a close up smile and ‘thanks for coming’!”
Look into the lens, rather than into the screen. Smile, use names, virtual high fives, and lots of praise and encouragement to keep your members engaged. Using inclusive language is extra important in the live streaming format: words like “we”, “let’s” and “us” will help people feel connected to you and the workout.
- Rachael Newsham shares her first live stream experience
7. ADAPT YOUR COACHING TO THE SITUATION
“People respond to authenticity,” says Gandalf. “When you are teaching to only a camera: speak, cue, coach, and motivate in a style that suits the room you are in. It doesn’t make sense to be screaming all happy-hype-crazy like you might do in your club with 30 people in front of you. As a wise man once said ‘Turn Down For What’. Well the answer, Mr Jon, is actually Turn It Down cause that’s more real when it’s just you and your iPhone.”
“Imagine you are talking to someone you know,” advises Lisa. “Don’t think about how you look; just stay focused on them and on what you need to say to help them do the move or achieve more. And don’t forget to smile! Your smile is your biggest voice!”
“Treat the experience like you are FaceTiming a friend so you won't be so nervous,” adds Instructor Michelle Melton Ross. “Have cue cards on the floor or taped up on the wall behind your device. Remember that many people will be seeing a tiny version of you on their phone, which means you will need to use strong, clear physical and verbal cues.”
“With Zoom you can see people, so you can coach directly to the camera and correct technique,” says Glen. “Interact and motivate, and don’t be afraid to go right up to the camera to give virtual high fives!
“If you’re using Facebook Live, you can’t see people, so it becomes more of a ‘performance’. Read the comment scroll and use this as a way to interact with the class.
“In general: if you are face-to-face then get in front of the camera and connect and motivate to create energy. If you are blind to your audience, then imagine the people who are watching; in my first Facebook Live I had over 2,000 people doing the class – which was wild! Be your big self!”
- Only stream workouts using royalty-free music.
- Connect with your club in the first instance to arrange streaming through their preferred channel.
- Join the Les Mills Live Streaming Facebook Group to participate in classes with all your favorite presenters!