What I Learned From Streaming Live Video For 30 Days

Last Wednesday, March 23rd, I completed my 30 day Periscope challenge…I broadcasted 30 live streaming videos, using the Periscope app, for 30 days. (Watch my replays)

The idea for the challenge came to me in mid-February. I had just spent over two hours shooting footage for a fricking one minute promotional video for an upcoming speaking event. I was frustrated at my inability to put sentences together coherently when I was on camera. It didn’t matter that I knew the content and my script. I got nervous and froze up when I knew I was being recorded.

One of our guiding principles at Forging Leaders is Do Shit That Scares You. The idea is that we can overcome our fears and gain authentic self confidence by getting out of our comfort zone. I decided to apply this mantra to the problem of my video jitters. Not quite the Alcatraz challenge, but scary nonetheless.

My plan was to broadcast a daily video talking about a different leadership development topic. I would keep my videos 10-15 minutes in length. I made a list of topics, sketched out my first scripts, watched other Scopers (Periscope broadcasters) to see how they did it, and I read a bunch of articles on how to not suck at Periscope.

I was ready!

Early Failures and the Feedback I Needed

My first video, on February 22nd, was excruciating. I was good for the first minute or so, then as people started joining the stream and making comments, I got distracted. This video was just over 18 minutes long…it should have been ten minutes. The extra eight minutes was made up of me repeating myself, losing my train of thought midway through sentences, and getting distracted by the activity of viewers. The only saving grace, was that I had forgotten to give my broadcast a title (newbie mistake), so I only had a handful of people join in (follow me here).

My second video the following day was even worse. All the same problems from the day before, except this time, I gave it a title, so more people got to tune in to my discomfort, not that anybody watched for very long.

That night after dinner, my wife sat me down on the couch and told me that I need to stop doing Periscope, that it was hurting my brand……ouch.

“Honey, it’s painful to watch, and I’m embarrassed for you.” She said. “Maybe you should practice a bunch in private, then start broadcasting again after you’re better?”

It was a hard conversation but I am so grateful that she told me the truth. I had known that my videos sucked, but no one else had given me the brutally honest feedback that I needed to hear. She also suggested what I could do to be not so nervous. She reminded me that I was sharing my ideas in order to love on people and help them become better leaders in their own lives. That wasn’t coming across in my videos. It looked like I was trying to teach viewers something rather than share something with them. Subtle difference, but it makes a big difference in my energy and my approach.

By the end of the conversation, I had heard, and  processed her feedback. I understood what I had to do in order to make the shift she talked about. I had to take the pressure off of myself and just share my stories with the intent of helping and not worry so much about looking professional or teaching anything.

I also explained to her why it was so important to continue doing the live videos and not take a break in order to practice. I told her that  the prospect of facing public humiliation each day by screwing up my broadcast forced me to improve at a much faster rate than if I had been practicing in a safe, comfortable environment.

The threat of public humiliation helped me focus and put in the extra work so I didn’t continue to embarrass myself.

By day seven of my challenge, my videos were consistently much better. I was more at ease on camera, I didn’t have to script out exactly what I wanted to say, but could actually just freestyle on the daily leadership topic. After all, I knew the content by heart, I had just always struggled to remember it when on film.

Benefits of my Periscope Challenge

By the end of the challenge, I felt completely natural on camera. I could banter with my viewers, I was able to precisely hit my key points, and I actually began to really enjoy broadcasting. The exact opposite of where I had started 30 days before.

[Check this scope out: How to Win Every Argument for the Rest of Your Life]

And the benefits of the Periscope challenge didn’t end there. I have more confidence than I did the month prior. After all, I had embraced and conquered a long-time fear of mine. The challenge has also made me a better public speaker when I’m not on camera. My last Periscope broadcast was actually just recording me as I gave a 60 minute workshop, on the topic of Busy vs. Intentional, in front of 85 people. I had never before felt so comfortable in front of a crowd.

I’ve long known the power of Doing Shit That Scares You. But it was a great reminder of how powerful that can be in my own life. Next up, singing in public…

So, how about you? What are you avoiding? What makes you uncomfortable? Imagine a life in which fear doesn’t dictate what you do and how you show up. I encourage you to pick a fear, and show it who’s boss by embracing it.

After all, your fear is standing in the way of you becoming the hero of your own life story.