Author Live Chat – What I Learnt

The other evening I did a live chat with fellow teenaged author Amelia Etchells on Instagram. It was a lot of fun and a fair few people watched and seemed to like it. Overall, I think it went well. However, like with most things, as soon as it was done I was struck by waves of “Why did I do it like that?” To avoid any of you feeling the same after you do a live chat or similar, I’ve put together a short list of ways to make sure you do the best you possibly can so that it’s the most fun for everyone.

  1. Time. Chose a time you know you’ll be able to talk without interruption, if possible. If there are two of you and you’re in different time zones, try not to make it too early or late for either person. Ensure you’ll definitely be able to start on time. Mine was scheduled for 9:30pm GMT when my martial arts club only finishes at 9pm and my house is about half an hour away, This made going home stressful and I started the video out of breath and flustered which isn’t a great beginning. I should have asked to start later and avoided a lot of fretting.
  2. Positioning. Choose somewhere well lit, preferably by natural light, with a simple background. Don’t move around too much, or it’ll interfere with the video quality unless you and everyone watching have great internet. If you live in a busy house it’s not always possible to have somewhere quiet but maybe ask your family not to interrupt you for the half hour or so, if they won’t mind.
  3. Length. Decide beforehand how long you want the video to be. I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing if you end up talking for a lot longer/shorter than you originally planned, but it’ll make finishing up easier if you know when you’re ending. About half an hour seems a good length, which was what we originally planned, although we ended up continuing for nearly an hour and probably longer if my phone hasn’t run out of charge. Which is another good point…
  4. Charge your phone. You’d think this would go without saying but apparently I’m not that smart. It’s a bit awkward having to say you’ve got to go because you’ve got 3% charge left. It’s less of a worry if you can charge your phone where you’re sat.
  5. Topics. Winging it is fine and fun, but it wouldn’t do any harm just to have a few topics written down somewhere nearby just in case conversation begins to flag. We ended up talking about accents and biscuits and goodness knows what else which is certainly better than umming and ahhing until something related to writing popped into our minds, but it probably would have been better to keep talking books and publishing.
  6. Audience. Instagram allows the audience to comment on the video so you and everyone watching can have a chat together, which is easily the best feature. We got quite a few audience questions and it was fun answering them, but don’t forget to ask them a few questions back. Make it into more of a conversation and it becomes a lot more fun. Also, it can be hard to keep track of everything said but do your best because it feels a bit awkward suddenly noticing something someone said a minute ago.
  7. Have fun. If you don’t enjoy it then neither will the audience. Talk about what you love, talk about things that interest you, talk about something funny you saw the other day. Enjoy yourself. This, I did manage to do, although I would maybe have avoided my impromptu recital of Undermilk Wood had I taken a second to think about it.

I hope I’ll have a chance to do similar videos in the future and get a chance to chat to more amazing authors and friends because although it’s outside my usual comfort zone it’s definitely worth doing. If you’re doing a live chat soon then let me know so I can try to watch!

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