Waiting for Connection…
For the past couple of months I’ve been going live on Instagram every week with specific goals in mind. In March, I did a series of lessons every Wednesday night on Women’s History in America. I find the topic fascinating. In preparation for these broadcasts, I was able to recall some old information I’d forgotten about, and also learn a few things. Still, every time my finger went to press that Start Live Video button, my heart was racing. Will I do a good job? Will I remember everything I set out to say? Will I misspeak and have everyone thinking I’m incompetent?
This month (April) I’ve started a literary broadcast every Thursday night at 8pm. Each week I choose some work of literature, read portions or the entire thing if it’s small, like a poem, and then I discuss the work, the author, anything significant about the period in which it was written. It’s like taking the most relaxed college literature course. You get to listen to a discussion of great works from the comfort of your couch, or bed, or out in the woods for all I know. If you want to get up for a snack, restroom break, or 420 it up, no one has to know.
As for me, I get to continue doing something I love– teaching literature– without having to email parents and sit in meetings and discuss data. It’s just me and you and literature and my nerves. Also, I really miss being a student and this is one way that I get to create the experience that I crave.
Even though I have a decade of teaching experience under my belt, I still find myself getting very nervous before going live. Last week, I was so nervous at the start of it that:
1.) Instead of just saying my first name, I also included my last name.
2.) The last name I used was actually my married name. I’m divorced. That wasn’t fun.
3.) Then I said “Sorry, I just used my maiden name.” I meant to say married name. I didn’t notice this until after the broadcast had ended.
I love teaching. I love literature. I love talking. I’ve done all of these things for years. Why am I so nervous?
I’m accustomed to making traditional videos. I press record, sit in front of the camera and speak. Later, I get to edit out all of the rambling bits and crap that makes no sense. Not so with live videos. Anything I say is cemented. Anything I forget to say is forever shut out. Top that off with the fact that I can’t see anyone’s face! In the moments after signing off from any broadcast, this is what I imagine just happened…
Hey everyone, this is Lyz-Stephanie with iwannabealady.com (fill in some random nervous talking and then jump straight to the point then bounce around, do quite a bit of fidgeting, get really excited, get really serious, forget what I was saying for the third time, more rapid speaking. Sign off).
Of course, it’s never as bad as all that nonsense. Actually, it’s never bad. I just have this issue where I’m hypercritical of myself. I want everything to be perfect, and that’s not possible, especially in real time. I want everyone who watches to feel like they had a great time; I want them to get a lot of value from what I’m doing. But Instagram only allows me an hour, and depending on the topic of conversation, I could go on for much longer. For instance, last week we discussed William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. I could spend a week on that text. So when I went back and rewatched the broadcast, I lamented lots of things I could’ve mentioned but didn’t. One quote in particular was highlighted and bookmarked and I still forgot to read it… because I was nervous and nerves make my brain foggy.
So why do I persist? Robert Frost said that the only way out is through. I knowww, sucks right? Wouldn’t it be great if we wanted to be good at something or comfortable with something and it just happened because we wanted it to?
The thing is, I love what I’m doing and I want to get better. I want to eventually add some art history, psychology, and a few other things. I’ll never get comfortable unless I keep racking up hours of practice. And then once the broadcast is over, I get to study the film like an NFL team preparing for the Super Bowl.
Of course, there are times that I go live that are much more casual and impromptu. Even those times get my nerves slightly worked up, but again, the more I do it, the more relaxed I’ll start to feel.
Here are some things that I’ve found make my experience a bit easier to conquer.
- Get comfortable. Wear comfortable clothes and panties. If you like standing, stand. If you want to sit on the ground criss cross applesauce style, do it.
- Have a comforting drink close at hand. I normally have hot tea. Sometimes just pausing to take a sip helps me to pause and breathe. Plus you don’t want dry mouth if you’re doing a lot of talking.
- Set the scene. If you’re anything like me, you like to look at pretty things. I feel better in a pretty, warm environment, be it the swing in my backyard, or my living room. Give your viewers some eye candy and it’ll take a little of the focus off of you. Maybe. But the bigger point is to give your viewers something pleasant to look at or something neutral. No cluttered spaces please.
- Be prepared. Know what you plan to say and, if needed, jot down a few points that you want to mention. It may not go exactly as planned, but you’ll feel more comfortable with a safety net and have less angst for forgetting something you wanted to say.
- Invite some friends to join you. They might watch from the sidelines and send you a few hearts, which always feels lovely, or they may add comments or questions which will give you energy and take some of the pressure off of you. You can even ask a friend to do a split screen with you for part of or the entire broadcast. This is when both of your faces show up together. Sometimes someone wants to make a comment but it’s too long to type, so they just don’t do it. We’ve all been there. Letting people know if and when they can request to video chat could be beneficial to you and your viewers.
- Ask for questions, comments and feedback. This is one that I struggle with. I sometimes forget to ask people to chime in until the very end. Encourage your viewers to engage during the broadcast. You can even make it easy on them by asking simple yes or no questions. Also pausing for them to respond (not too long) may take some pressure off of them. You can also include a comment portion at the end. Just let viewers know ahead of time that they’ll have that opportunity.
- Be yourself. The people who come to watch you are there not only for your content but for you. If you’re normally a very chill human, don’t feel the need to be super high energy and vice versa. The more yourself you are, the more you’ll build a following of people who genuinely appreciate your style of communicating. There’s someone for everyone out there. If you’re a goofball, be that. If you’re a nerd, flash your nerdiness. Last week I admitted that I was nervous on air because it helped me to feel more connected with my audience instead of trying to feign perfect composure, which in turn helped me loosen up a bit more.
Have you been considering going live on Instagram? If you haven’t but you’d like to, what’s been stopping you? If you’ve been going live, is it more for business, pleasure, or both?
Also, here’s your personal invitation to join me tonight on Instagram Live at iwannabealady. In honor of National Poetry Month we’ll be reading and discussing Introduction to Poetry by Billy Collins. He’s one of my favorite poets! I can’t wait to read, discuss and share experiences with you all.
My name is Lyz-Stephanie and I want to inspire you to be more connected to yourself and the world, to find beauty in simple pleasures, and to have more adventures. Every day we can do something to make our lives happier and richer, make our minds more active and engaged. I’m on the journey. Will you join me?