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How To Improvise in Real Time

When you're on camera with live video, the most important thing to keep in mind is to forget the camera in front of you. It’s a simple tip, but one that can’t be overlooked. The presence of the camera changes nothing but nerves.  Improvisation is natural - we do it in conversation everyday. When that improvisation comes with an expectation to perform - like being on a stage, or in front of people, it becomes scary and unachievable. Relaxation is key in live video. The clearer your head is, the better suited you are to play off the moments in your performance or broadcast.  Some helpful tips and things to consider before you do your performance or broadcast:


  • First, be as relaxed as possible, because as soon as you become a nervous wreck, it becomes more difficult to stay in a improv state of mind. Stress causes your brain to shut off - and you want your presentation or conversation to flow naturally.
  • Some relaxation methods that are helpful to me before going on air: take six deep breaths before you start, stretch, or do vocal warm-ups.
Make a Basic Script / Outline

This can include key phrases, sales points, or key product points.

  • When planning your performance, create an outline of key points to hit. This will help you stay on track and keep your head in the game during the broadcast (think of it as your quarterback playbook wristband.)
  • One thing to keep in mind when writing your outline is to include any phrases or pitches that relate to the content of your presentation. This way, they can serve as 'space servers' or can pick up the conversation if there are any awkward drop offs in conversation or presentation.

What Do I Need?

  • As with anything, it’s always prudent to make sure you have everything you need for your performance. This can include any props, products, or demonstration tools, your script outline, or even a glass of water.
  • Critical to reducing stress is to also make sure your A/V setup has been tested and is working properly well before the broadcast. Nothing causes more worry and difficulties than a malfunction - and it’s better to catch it in advance rather than try and fix it after you’ve gone live.


Count to Three

The rule of thumb that every sitcom ever used is the “three-count”.

Timing can make all the difference as far as what your audience hears, absorbs, laughs at, etc. The rule of thumb is count of three's. Its important for timing to be on point, so your audience can get the information and to keep you from talking too fast or over your performance partner. For example:

Ashley: Welcome to Brandlive, joining me is Brandlive Marketing Director Josh Cox!
1, 2, 3
Josh: Hey live audience, I'm Josh Cox!
1, 2, 3
Ashley: I already told them that...

Have fun. Act relaxed and confident, and your exuberance will shine through. Improvisation is a skill, and like any skill, with practice and preparation comes better performance.

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