How to Host a Blab: Gain viewers, book great guests and enhance your personal brand

Note from Why I Social: Ross Brand is the guest on Episode 61 of the podcast and an experienced broadcaster.


 

Let’s begin with the most basic items needed for being active on Blab. If you have experience on Blab, feel free to skip over this first section.

Essentials

Headset or headphones & mic: You need to have a headset or headphones to prevent feedback and enable viewers to hear you with clarity. If you are using an Apple computer, the same mobile phone headset you use for phone conversations will do the trick and provide you with decent sound. Plug it into the headphone jack and you are ready to roll.

Windows users will need a separate microphone in addition to their earbuds or headphones. There are a few decent quality microphones you can purchase for around $50 that have USB inputs. Choose from the ATR 2100 and Samson Q2U (the one I use) as both allow you to plug the headphone directly into the mic for monitoring your voice and include XLR cables (along with the USB cables) so that you can use the mics with mixers if the occasion warrants. Both mics are sturdy for taking on the road.

Apple users may want to consider going with the USB mic and headphone set up as well, particularly if they plan to repurpose their Blabs as podcasts or upload the videos to YouTube. You will find that ATR 2100 and Samsun Q2U can deliver superior sound when compared to smartphone headsets most Blabbers use.

ATR 2100

ATR 2100

For some reason, condenser USB mics appear quite popular among podcasters and livestreamers and are being marketed to online broadcasters. Unless you have a soundproof studio setup, condenser mics are not the best choice as they pick up too much background noise. Opt for a dynamic mic (ART 2100, Samson Q2U, Rode Podcaster) if you have less than ideal studio conditions (almost everyone reading this) as dynamic mics are the choice for most professional talk-radio shows and field reporting assignments.

Samson U2S

Samson Q2U

Twitter account: Without signing into Blab with your Twitter account, you can view Blabs, but can’t comment in the chat box or go live on camera. Make sure you are signed into your Twitter account on the same browser that you intend to use for Blab. I find Blab works best with the Chrome browser.

Getting Started

Before scheduling your first Blab, there are a few steps to take that will increase your chances for a positive experience when you do jump into the hosting chair.

Watch some Blabs: Become familiar with the chat box, including how to tag someone (@username) and how to ask a question (/q before question). This may seem easy and self-explanatory, but you want to be sure you are comfortable with it before attempting to enter text in the chat box while hosting a show.

Call-in to some Blabs: Grab an open seat and ask a question or contribute your comments to the discussion. Get your feet wet with being on camera and speaking in front of others. This is also a good way to test your equipment and computer set up rather than running into problems when you are scheduled to be on for an hour.

Do provide value in the questions or comments you make when calling-in, both out of respect to the show in progress and to start establishing yourself as someone worth listening to.

Clockwise from top left: Ross Brand, Christin Kardos, Brian Fanzo and Chris Barrows

Clockwise from top left: Ross Brand (host), Christin Kardos (guest), Brian Fanzo (call-in) and Chris Barrows (call-in)

Watch Mitch Jackson (@mitchjackson) for an excellent example of how to conduct yourself as a guest on Blab. He gets on and asks great questions, interacts in a friendly, respectful and professional manner with the hosts and then has a good sense of when to step out.

Christin Kardos (@christinkardos) contributes sharp insights on her “calls” without overtaking the conversation. A skilled community manager, she builds rapport and trust with the hosts, making her a desired guest on shows.

Observe how people joining a Blab ask questions, contribute to the discussion and interact with the hosts. Make a mental note of how callers enhance or detract from the show. This will help you both when calling-in and when accepting calls on your Blab.

Watch the replay of your call-in: Listen to how it sounded (mic level, feedback), how your lighting looked, and adjust accordingly.

Preparing for your first Blab

Pick a theme for your show: If you plan on doing a series rather than a standalone broadcast, select a theme that can be carried out over numerous episodes. Unless you have a specific niche you are targeting, don’t make your theme so narrow that you deny yourself flexibility or make the theme irrelevant by needing to do shows that are completely unrelated.

For example, my Blabs “showcase talented broadcasters delivering high quality content across livestream platforms.”

Pick a name for your show: Related to the theme should be the name for the show. Good choices are names that easily lend themselves to hashtags you can use to promote the show on Twitter. I chose #LivestreamStars, a title that sums up the theme of the show as described above. Keep the title to a couple words if possible, so you have space left in the Blab episode description to include the guest’s handle and topic.

Show name & theme

Show name and theme

Some show names I like are #BlabNation (@jonathantripp), The Daily Q Show (@jennyq), which is shortened to #TDQShow in the Blab description, and #LevelUp with @coachjennie.

Select a few words for the episode description: What is the topic of the upcoming episode and who is your guest?

My formula = #ShowName: Brief Episode description w/ @guest (option: include your handle too if space allows)

Example = #LivestreamStars: Excel at Visual Marketing w/ @rebekahradice (& @iRossBrand)

Have a guest and/or co-host: Until you consistently have a large enough audience where you can count on regular call-ins, it’s best not to go it alone. Blab is social & meant for conversations. Even those with large audiences, in most cases, should consider having guests or co-hosts.

Don’t feel you need to have a guest who agrees with you or is a regular Blab user. Chris Barrows (@cbarrows) is a great Blab guest for two reasons: he brings strong opinions about livestreaming and social media that he isn’t afraid to share and he doesn’t do a lot of guest appearances on Blab. Viewers want to catch an interview with him when they have the opportunity.

Create a show card: This is an image approximately 2x wide as high that will show up in Blab listings and you can use to promote the show on social media. Including a headshot of your guest (and perhaps of yourself as well) is a good way to draw eyes to your show card.

Show Card

Show card

Promote on social: For Tweets, remember to include the day & time (specify the time zone), @username for guest, a few words about the topic and the show link to subscribe.

Research your guest:

  • How are you going to promote your guest?
  • What about your guest is most interesting to your target audience?
  • Find out what your guest is working on for a timely angle to add to the discussion and promotion (e.g. a new book. speaking at an upcoming conference, etc.)
  • Ask your guest what they would like to promote or talk about.

Give your guest a chance to promote their book, website or company in return for taking time to appear on your Blab. Developing a reputation for promoting your guests is an effective way to land future guests. You don’t have to say you love their work, or even praise their work, but you should mention it.

Have notes ready: Consider preparing notes that you can refer to during the show, including:

  • Name and bio info for guest
  • Date and time of your next Blab
  • Name of your guest for next Blab
  • Questions to ask your guest & topics to cover

At the least, I list a few points to mention about the guest and the name of my guest for the next week. I will often jot down some keywords to remind me of the topics I want to cover during the conversation.

Rarely do I look at the notes once I’ve introduced the guest (if at all). And, yes, you can wing it, particularly when you are familiar with your guest, have the same show day and time each week and have some experience hosting shows, but there will come a time when you don’t have the info on the tip of your tongue and will be grateful you wrote it down. For the first few Blabs, I did keep a list of questions handy and sometimes referred to them.

Hosting the Show

Test your equipment: Plug your headset and/or microphone into the computer and test your sound quality. Make sure your audio settings have the correct microphone selected as the audio input. Also check the settings to identify your source for listening to the broadcast as the audio output. You may need to adjust the audio input level for your next show if you find when watching the replay that you are coming in much softer or louder than the other people on your Blab.

Host screen prior to starting the Blab

Host screen prior to starting the Blab

Arrive a little early: Jump on Blab a minute or two before your start time to welcome your audience and accept the call-in from your guest or co-host. Jonathan Tripp, host of #BlabNation, does a nice job of chatting casually with his guests before starting the recording. He makes his guests feel comfortable and part of the team, even if it’s their first time chatting with Jonathan.

At the very least, give your guest a brief overview of the show (one-on-one interview for first half hour and then open up the seats for questions) and let the guest know when the show will end. They can be comfortable knowing your show will be done before their next appointment and can speak up to alert you to any pending conflict. Definitely give them a heads up before you start recording.

Start the recording: Unless you want your Blab to be off-the-record, meaning only visible during the live broadcast, you need to record it to make the replay available and have the audio and video files to repurpose and review.

What to say after clicking the red button:

This may seem obvious to you, but it isn’t to everyone: give your name and the name of your show when you start recording. Yes, your name is on the screen, but people sometimes listen to Blabs while working in another browser or downloading the audio version of the replay. Don’t assume they know who you are or what the show is about. Same thing goes for introducing your guest.

If your show has a tagline, hashtag, or subtitle, the top of the show is a good time to include it as it helps you brand your show to the audience.

Introduce your guest: Give your guest an intro. It doesn’t need to be long. Do include some pertinent facts about what they do and where you can find them online. As some people will be unfamiliar with your guest, the intro will give context and is particularly helpful to your audio only audience.

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 12.17.55 PM

Promote your guests before, during and after the show

Divide your show into segments: People’s attention tends to wane after 20 minutes, so have a new topic or area of discussion ready, accept call-ins, add another guest or bring on a new guest. Michael Stelzner (@mike_stelzner) of Social Media Examiner does a great job segmenting his Blab, Morning Social Media Marketing Talk, bringing on team members such as Erik Fisher (@erikjfisher) and Kimberly Reynolds (@kimreynolds) to discuss different items in the news.

Let others know you are live: At least a few times during the show, click the Twitter button on the left side of the screen to share with your followers. You can also share on Facebook.  Encourage your audience (not more than once or twice) to “tell a little bird.”

Invite questions: Let viewers know you will be answering their questions from the chat box or opening a seat for them join you live on camera.

When to end a call-in: Politely and respectfully end the call-in when it is time to offer the seat to someone else or when the caller is no longer contributing in a way that is beneficial for the show. Thank the caller for the question and their contribution, but don’t hesitate to end the call so as not to let the show go too far afield.

If someone goes into a long rant, interrupt by asking if they have a question for your guest. This may not be easy, but remember it is your show and you owe it to yourself and your audience to keep it on track.

Monitor the chat box: While you shouldn’t feel obligated to read or respond (either verbally or in writing) to every comment in the chat box, it is good for the show and for building rapport with your audience to read interesting comments from audience members and acknowledge those who wrote them.

Your top priorities, however, are to interact with the other people on camera and to lead an interesting and entertaining discussion. While it is good to reference comments in the chat box, you benefit everyone by prioritizing the delivery of the show over the discussion in the chat box.

Wrapping up the show: Thank the guest and mention where viewers can find the guest online (or the name of their new book, etc). Announce the day and time for your next show and mention the featured guest on your next show. Thank everyone for coming. Include the show link for the next Blab in the chat box for viewers to subscribe.

Pause the recording: After the recording is paused, it is nice to thank your guest again before they drop off and to thank your audience. Jennifer Quinn (@jennyq) of The Daily Q Show does a great job of thanking everyone who attends her Blabs.

After the show

Now it’s time to share and repurpose your Blab. There are lots of options available, including:

  • Upload the video to YouTube
  • Embed the Blab on your website
  • Edit out a clip from the video to upload directly to Facebook
  • Share links to the replay on Twitter and other social media platforms
  • Create a blog post for your Blab replay embed, adding show notes and related links
  • Take a screen shot during show or while viewing the replay to share on Instagram.
Screen shot of recent Blab

Screen shot of recent Blab, clockwise from top left: Ross Brand, Rebekah Radice and Mitch Jackson

Creating a recurring broadcast

The following elements are valuable for sustaining your Blab for more than a few episodes:

Build a website: Make your Blab standout from the competition by developing a website. This is great for booking guests as they can see the other quality guests you’ve had on the show. It’s also a place to document the show’s history, introduce the show host and guests and provide related links.

Book guests in advance: Having a strong roster of guests lined up for future shows sends the message that you take your show seriously and that your show will have longevity. It also gives you credibility when booking other guests.

Schedule of guests at LivestreamStars.TV

Schedule of guests at LivestreamStars.TV

Find a sponsor: Are there companies trying to reach your niche audience? Consider offering them a sponsorship opportunity that includes 1-2 live reads during your show plus spot on your show cards and website. I haven’t seen many sponsored Blabs yet, so it may be a long shot. However, Mitch Jackson (@mitchjackson) and Jennifer Hoverstad (@jenhoverstad) recently revealed two sponsors on their new Blab, TheShow.Live.

Create a highlight reel: Introduce the show to potential new viewers and guests or prospective sponsors by compiling a video reel with some of the best moments from previous shows.

Use a logo: Take your branding to the next level with a custom logo for your Blab.

Adding at least some of the elements listed above to your preparation, promotion and hosting will help you standout from the vast majority of shows on Blab.

Ross Brand hosts #LivestreamStars Mondays at 7pm ET on Blab. He is the editor of Livestream Universe and co-founder of HR Avant-Garde. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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