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Going Live with Your Smartphone

Going Live with Your Smartphone

Live broadcasts are easy to do with a smartphone, thanks to the integration of mobile phones and social platforms.
Corinne Podger

Reasons to go live include: 

  • Breaking news
  • The chance for your audience to ask questions of a journalist at the scene, or a high-profile guest
  • Regular bulletin production without the cost of a TV studio

Live broadcasts can be challenging. Poor connectivity, audio lagging behind video, video glitches, and the ability to monitor questions and comments, can all ruin a good live show. You also need to be careful if the live content includes graphic violence or sensitive material, and include a warning in the description of your broadcast.

What Equipment Will I Need to Go Live?

  • Your smartphone – with plenty of space so the live broadcast will save to your Camera Roll or Gallery
  • A tripod, tripod mount and external microphone if you are able to work with a colleague
  • Selfie stick if you are going live on your own
  • An external clip microphone or hand-held microphone
  • An external power bank to keep your smartphone charged throughout the broadcast

Apps and Software for Live Broadcasts

  • Teradek makes equipment and apps for going live with a smartphone, so you can add pre-recorded video and other content to the show.
  • Switcher Studio is an iOS-only app you can use to connect multiple smartphones and create a multi-camera broadcast. You can also add pre-recorded video inserts.
  • Streamyard is a paid-for desktop tool for streaming live to multiple social platforms from the one device, including YouTube, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
  • OBS is a free, open-source desktop tool for live-streaming. It can also be used to record, and is a great tool for outside broadcasts.

How Do I Produce a great Live Video?

  • Work in pairs – one person behind the camera monitoring the recording and keeping you and your guests in focus, and one person doing the interviews and monitoring audience comments on a second phone.
  • Prepare bullet point questions for your guests
  • Unless it is breaking news, plan and rehearse your live. Where will you stand? Who will you interview? What will you show the audience?
  • Decide how you will involve the audience. Ask for comments on an issue, or questions for an interviewee.
  • Have some pre-planned things you can talk about or point to if your guest is late or runs out of things to say.
  • Promote upcoming lives on your Facebook Page and on other social networks so your audience knows it’s happening.
  • Do a private test broadcast first to check your internet connection.
  • If sustaining a video live is difficult due to internet connectivity, consider an audio-only live instead.
  • Know how to mute and block viewers who leave inappropriate or off-topic comments.
  • Aim for a minimum broadcast of 7 minutes, to allow your audience to join and begin to interact.
  • Set your broadcast to save to your Camera Roll so you can re-use the video later.
  • Fully charge your phone and plug it into a battery pack if you have one.

This BBC Facebook Live has everything you need for a great live broadcast. There is a journalist behind the camera-phone filming, while the presenter does live interviews and has a second phone to monitor and respond to comments.

Watch: We were LIVE at the Niagara Falls visitor centre on the Canadian border talking to people about what they think of Donald Trump’s victory.

How to Go Live on Social Platforms

Most social platforms allow you to go live from a phone straight to your audience. These resources will help you make them look professional, and reach your target audience.

Facebook Live:

Instagram Live:

Twitter Live:

YouTube Live:

TikTok Live:

About author
Corinne Podger

Corinne Podger is an Australian journalism educator, author, and training consultant who has worked in the media sector for more than 30 years. Her specialisms include mobile journalism, digital-first newsgathering, online verification, social multimedia production, podcasting and audio storytelling, and strategic audience engagement to drive brand awareness and media revenue. She has helped newsrooms, NGOs and social impact organisations in more than 60 countries to introduce digital innovations to grow audiences and support business priorities. 

Corinne is an accredited trainer with BBC Media Action, Thomson Reuters Foundation, and the Solutions Journalism Network. She also works with science and public health organisations to tackle misinformation and disinformation. Organisations she has worked with include Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, UNESCO, Google News Initiative, the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union, WAN-IFRA, the World Federation of Science Journalists, Internews, Forbes, the World Health Organisation, BBC Academy, Oxfam, and the Global Forum for Media Development.

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