As it happens, nothing too awful. When I embarked upon my first live Q&A session on Twitter and Facebook last week, there was (in my mind) potential for all sorts of diabolical subversion. But it wasn’t too bad. In fact, it was almost fun. To make it actually fun, there are a few things I would have done differently and certainly some aspects I wish I had thought about more carefully. But overall – whether you are a writer, artist, musician or creative of any kind – putting yourself on a live interactive forum is a fabulous (if somewhat nerve-wracking) opportunity to reach your audience in a different way. For anyone thinking about doing it for the first time, here are some thoughts…
Plan ahead. Sounds obvious, but worth mentioning. Give yourself time to jiggle up some interest on your blog, social media, whatever. Specify a date and times – I went for a Friday evening 7pm – 9pm. I would recommend going no longer that two hours, believe me, it’s exhausting. I didn’t get around to answering absolutely all the questions, but you can always apologise and promise to arrange another session.
It’s all about the questions. Some people will send you questions in advance (see above) and this is a good thing, you at least have a chance to prepare some relatively sensible answers. If you are worried about not having enough questions to fill the time, have a few on standby as back up. Think of things people ask you often about yourself or your work and use this opportunity to share your thoughts. Get friends on standby to ping across a question or two to get the ball rolling or pick up the pace.
Although you can never be quite sure what questions might crop up, you can probably guess some likely themes. As I writer, I usually get asked what I most like and dislike about writing, how/when I started, who are my influences… that sort of thing. Have a little think on such things and make a few notes beforehand.
Technical practicalities. Or perhaps that should be practical technicalities? Either way, you need to know that your equipment works and you know how to use it. This was the biggest downfall on my part. I had planned to ‘go live’ from my laptop and spent quite some time setting it up with good lighting, making sure there would be no background or spill sound and ensuring I had room to move without tripping over cables and whatnot. Having only ever used Facebook Live on my phone – and never attempted the ‘go live’ feature on Twitter – I realised too late that there was no live button on my desktop versions and my phone was not fully charged.
Obviously, I managed, but was kicking myself for not at least having a technical run-through before the event itself. By this point, my hands where sweaty, I was finding the Twitter Live feature cumbersome and the whole thing was nowhere near as slick as I had planned. There was much uttering of ‘bugger’ as I tried to end the broadcasts and also unintended random shots of ceilings and floors as I wrestled with the technology. Not ideal.
Many hands make light work. For the next broadcast, I will certainly enlist the help of a willing assistant. Even an unwilling one will do. Whilst certainly not impossible to accomplish single-handedly, I personally would have appreciated an extra pair of hands on the night. Having someone else hold the camera would have been easier. It would have been nice to have another set of eyes on the questions that came relentlessly across both platforms. A bit of moral support. That sort of thing. Anyone prepared to give up a few hours of their time will be royally rewarded with shepherds pie and wine.
I won’t bore you with the whole spectacle, but here are a few clips from the live Q&A. Lots of room for improvement, but lots of lessons learned – not least of which is don’t tell people you don’t know who Sally Phillips is, as you will be immediately bombarded with endless links.