Recently I have been asking some members my team at Canonical (namely, Daniel Holbach and David Planella) to start doing some live videocasts. As some of you will know, I have been doing videocasts myself every Wednesday, and they have been pretty well attended.

Today on my weekly call with David I started sharing some tips and said I would email him and Daniel with some things that I have learned from doing the shows, but then it struck me that I might as well share this with the world. So, here are some tips and tricks I have picked up when doing my own ustream.tv show:

  • Get decent gear – my camera of choice is the Logitech QuickCam 9000 and it works great out of the box with Ubuntu. Due to my interest in music, I have a small home studio in my house so I use that to get the best audio and video I can. If you want a great audio solution, check out the Shure X2U which allows you to plug in a professional XLR microphone into a USB socket. It gets great results and also works out of the box in Ubuntu.
  • Announce your show – when I do my show I typically announce it on Facebook/Twitter/identi.ca an hour before I go live, then 15 mins before and then a few mins before I start. I also ask my guests to tweet it themselves to bring more people along.
  • Enable links – ustream.tv chat channels disable links by default, so click the little gear wheel icon in the chat box and enable links – your guests are likely to want to post in related links.
  • Every show has a beginning, middle, and end – at the start of every show I do I introduce myself, ask who is new to the show, then focus on the main content, and then wrap up the show and thank people joining. Strangely, with most of my shows people want me to play a bit of guitar (the guitars are shown in the background), and it is a fun little thing to wrap up with.
  • Handle questions Ubuntu Open Week style – most of my shows are pure Q+A sessions and I always ask people to prefix questions with ‘QUESTION:’ because I can then pick those questions out from the chatter easily. Also, make it clear to folks that you need to register with ustream.tv if you want to chat in the channel.
  • Don’t try and answer questions you don’t know the answer to – if someone asks you a question and you don’t know, just say you don’t know and recommend another avenue in which the guest can find out the answer.
  • Speak up – remember this is a show, it is entertainment and education, so speak up and try to make it interesting. Feel free to make jokes and have fun with your audience if you feel comfortable.
  • Give it a few mins for your guests to join – when you hit the broadcast button, ask your audience if they can hear you, and then give it a few mins for everyone to get connected, and then you can start the show.
  • Be sure to record the show – inside the ustream.tv broadcasting interface there is a record button. I recommend you first start broadcasting and then when you are ready, hit the record button. When you finish the show and stop the recording, a tab opens in the broadcasting interface where you can save the recording – don’t forget to do this! 🙂

Hope this helps, and I will see you all this week on Wed 24th Nov at 11am Pacific 2pm Eastern 7pm UTC/UK 9pm Europe for my community and Ubuntu Q+A videocast. More details of Daniel’s and David’s shows are coming soon!

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