Blabbing on live video – some useful tips I picked up

If you have been following HTWB for a while you’ll know that recently I was initiated into the wonderful world of Blab, that incredible new institution that despite sounding like a tropical skin disease is actually a brilliant new channel of online communication.

Blabbing on live video - some useful tips I picked up

Despite Blab being a fairly new medium there are many “how to” articles and demos around. However here are some tips that I picked up while preparing for and doing my first Blab chat…and you might find them helpful.

First of all huge thanks must go to my good friend Steven Healey who grasped Blab by the throat the moment it emerged back in the summer of 2015 and has made it his own, with a brilliant series of Blab chats (Blabbers? Blabberations? We need a new vocabulary here…)

To see what the multi-talented Steven is doing with his Blab chats, just click here – he will be running a series of very interesting sessions for the SME business crowd over the coming months. Well worth bookmarking.

So what about writing words for Blab?

The great thing about any of these live video channels – Blab, Periscope, Meerkat and the earlier ones like Google Hangouts and Skype – is that ostensibly, you should relax and be yourself because this is “live.” No scripting should be necessary. Hmmmm.

The reality may be somewhat different.

Earlier today (as I write this) I was talking to someone who already is running international training sessions via one of these live online video channels.

She made the point that although unscripted/rehearsed discussion forms part of their training, other content needs to be scripted to maintain consistency of message, if nothing else.

Another reason, among many, why some scripting is necessary when you’re using unstructured video environments like this is because scripts keep you not only on message, but also on time.

Remember that old saying about how first impressions count?

This isn’t about words, but it will affect how your words are absorbed.

The great thing about these live video channels is that you can participate from the comfort of your own office, home office, or even your kitchen table. Most people simply switch on their webcams, put on their headsets, and off they go.

Given that you are going to appear on screen, however, you need to pay some attention to how you look. OK, if someone is just flashing a smartphone around and transceiving from that, you have to live with how you look there and then.

But when you’re doing a pre-arranged Blab or Skype or Hangout, a little preparation and forethought can make a big difference to how you come over.

Ask any Hollywood star and they’ll say “it’s all about lighting”

Avoid using only lights that are behind you where you sit in front of your computer, because they will make you look like a silhouette. Ditto to the side (only half a face) and overhead (sparkly hair but no head.)

Turn those off. Then find a “key” light you can point downwards and towards your face (angle it slightly from your better side if you have one) and adjust it so it illuminates the best part of your face.

Especially if you wear glasses (and/or if you have multiple chins as I do) make sure the light is high enough up that it casts a shadow over your chin/chins and goes diagonally over the lenses in your glasses.

Try if you can to use a fairly bland light behind you, so you don’t look like you’re talking out of darkness … I wasn’t able to do this as you’ll see from the video below, and it makes me look a bit like a low-budget vampire.

What about background?

If you do manage to light up your background enough to be seen, don’t light it up so much that it argues with the “key” light on you and make sure that your webcam doesn’t make you look like you have a plant, lamp or other artefact growing out of your head or one ear.

Ideally, a simple, plain background works best because that helps viewers focus on you with few distractions.

Try, too, to locate yourself in a room where there are some soft furnishings to absorb unwanted sounds. Hard floors, furnishings and windows lead to echo and other issues that confuse the audio.

And what about camera angle?

All too often you’ll see people on Blab or similar platforms looking like they are…

Peering up at you over the bottom of the screen. This is usually when the person’s webcam sits on top of the desktop screen, and they haven’t angled it downwards properly. If it won’t bend forwards sufficiently, prop it up. Fabric plasters/BandAids are handy for this as they’re non-slip.

Standing over you like your dentist does. This often happens when people are using the camera in a laptop. To avoid it, put your laptop up on a surface level with your upper body and keep the screen at as close to a 90 degree angle to the keyboard, as possible.

Filling up the screen with their face. Even if you are incredibly attractive, being too close to the screen can make you seem menacing. With Blab, especially, the visual quality is getting pretty good so you can afford to drop back and show your head and shoulders; you even have room to use small hand gestures.

Glancing all over the place like a shifty knock-off watch salesman. These live video platforms put all sorts of stuff all over your screen and yes, you do need to keep checking on who’s posted what question and who’s on air along with you, etc. But remember to return to look into the camera, wherever it is, and keep looking at it as much as possible.

What advice can you  share about the words you use on Blab and other live video?

Please drop us a note here in the comments or on

What I would like to do is compile a selection of people’s experiences using Blab and other live video channels, whether in a personal context or as business media.

That way we can share our experiences for the benefit of us all here on HTWB.

Meanwhile, here’s what I Blabbed (below) with Steven Healey…enjoy

It’s an hour long so I won’t be offended if you just dip in and out!

And please don’t forget to share your own experiences and advice  about this relatively new online channel of communication.

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