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How to Make Your Live Videos Look Professional

By Ian Anderson Gray

Confident Live Marketing Podcast

Episode 39

Episode Theme: Tech & Gear

February 14, 2020

EP 39 - Blog Image

How To Make Your Live Videos Look Professional

Love the idea of adding live video to your marketing mix but no idea how you’ll even begin to make them look professional?

Never fear, in this episode I catch up with Adrian Salisbury, who trains solo entrepreneurs around the world how to look and feel their absolute best on camera.

Follow his advice and you’ll be creating Oscar-worthy videos for your business in no time!

What you’ll learn

  • [11:19] How Adrian’s career in photography led to him becoming a leading expert on professional-looking video
  • [13:27] How to get your nerves under control in front of a camera (even when you’re live!)
  • [19:29] Whether it’s possible for your videos to look too professional
  • [23:33] How to create a Hollywood standard set
  • [32:13] What equipment you need to make Oscar-worthy videos (without breaking the bank)

This episode is sponsored by StreamYard and Content10X

‘Can I help you with that?’

A born teacher, Adrian started out in the photography field.

‘I’d be on holiday watching somebody awkwardly trying to take a photo with their camera and everything in me wanted to go over to them and just go, "Can I help you with that?”’

Adrian started teaching photography professionally, in person, before deciding to create an online course.

Of course, teaching his photography skills online meant that he had to start making videos. As it turns out, Adrian was a natural and before long he was fielding more questions about his amazing video skills than about his photography. Pivoting to teaching people how to master video was an obvious choice.

And Adrian reckons that the fact he doesn’t have a film background is a huge bonus since it allows him to skip the technical jargon and teach in a way that everyone can relate to.

Dealing with nerves

So, after years of making videos — and teaching video skills to countless entrepreneurs — here’s what we all really want to know: does Adrian still get nervous when stepping in front of the camera? And if so, how does he get those nerves under control?

When it comes to making YouTube videos, Adrian is as cool as a cucumber.

As he says,

“at the end of the day, I’m sitting here in the room on my own, I’m totally in control. If I don’t like it, I can delete it. I don’t find it any harder than standing in front of a mirror and talking to myself.”

Live video, however, is a little harder; the pressure ramps up and it’s harder to stay in control. But, to regain that feeling of control, Adrian reckons it’s all about preparation and making sure everything is ready in advance.

“If I'm doing a webinar, a Facebook Live, or something in Ecamm, I've got all my scenes ready to go, I've got my notes in front of me, I've checked all the tech's working. All that preparation just eliminates, as much as possible, things that can go wrong.”

When things do go wrong…

Of course, even the pros can’t completely eliminate the possibility of disaster.

Adrian reminisces about his very first webinar:

“I thought I was being really clever by turning off some of the things in the house that were on the wifi at the time. Without realising it, I unplugged the router.”

After all the time spent launching his webinar, the whole lot died on him literally two minutes in! Luckily, Adrian quickly jumped to plan B and high-tailed it round to his father-in-law’s house and had the whole thing up and running again 10 minutes later. And actually, it was a huge success; people loved it despite the rocky start.

Now, neither of us is advocating that you actively court disaster but it does go to show that the things we most fear when we undertake any sort of live video, don’t have to be the end of the world. In fact, things going wrong can actually be the best — and quickest — way to learn.

“I can say to somebody, ‘Check your microphones and make sure you don't have notifications on,’ and things like that. But until they've actually been in there and it's all falling apart and they've had that ‘ahhhhh’, they won't remember it.”

For example, if

“all of a sudden a notification comes up on your screen when you’re screen sharing, next time around, you’re going to make sure that you turn your Do Not Disturb on.”

Adrian’s own screen is now covered in post-it notes reminding him to check all of the little things — mics, notifications etc — that can actually ruin a recording.

However, all of the post-it notes in the world can’t help you avoid every potential disaster and it’s important to remember that as frustrating as these things are, they can happen to any of us and as such, as incredibly relatable. In fact, Adrian suspects that if you haven’t faced a disaster or two with your live videos, it’s probably a sign that you’re not really pushing yourself enough and that you probably need to be doing video more regularly!

If you haven’t faced a disaster or two with your live videos, it's probably a sign that you're not really pushing yourself enough and that you probably need to be doing video more regularly!Click To Tweet

Can you look too professional?

So with all of this talk about tech disasters in our videos, you have to wonder: how important is it to look ‘professional’ anyway?

I’ve talked to a lot of people recently about being real, being authentic, and embracing the flaws when it comes to live video. A lot of people are fed up with slick marketing videos. So, what’s Adrian’s take on this? We may all want to produce professional-looking videos, but is that actually what people want to watch?

Adrian believes it is. In fact, he reminded me that when we spoke on the phone a few weeks before I interviewed him for my podcast, one of the first things I did was compliment him on how great his backdrop looked, and how incredible his camera was!

And that, of course, is one of the reasons Adrian started teaching video in the first place: countless comments like mine and endless questions from other people about how they, too, could get their videos to look good.

There is definitely still a huge interest in professional-looking video and with so many businesses creating videos these days, Adrian reckons it’s still the absolute best way to help your own videos stand out and allow people to see you as an authority and an expert.

“To me, this is a very quick way to just catch someone’s attention, and it doesn’t need to be hard or complicated.”

With so much competition out there, you also can’t afford to put anyone off. Adrian describes one video he watched a while back that highlights exactly why it’s important to at least try and put your best foot forward:

“There was an interview I was really excited to watch but when the guest came on she was sat in front of a big window and the lighting was terrible — honestly I’ve never seen anything like it. The microphone sounded like it was on in another room, and there was a dog yapping. I couldn’t listen to it. Which was a shame because she probably had some really great content to share but I was totally put off.

If that’s being real and raw…I’m not convinced.”

On being authentic AND professional

That said, Adrian doesn’t think you have to unleash your inner newsreader to come across in a professional way. Rather it’s just about trying your absolute best.

He points out that if you were having a meeting with someone in person, you’d think about what you were going to wear, you’d make sure your laptop was charged and your presentation ready, you’d put a lot of thought into finding the right venue. All because you know that first impressions are so powerful.

It’s not about that buttoned-up idea of being professional, but about concentrating on high quality and using that to build trust with people while still being real and natural in front of them. And so it is with video.

As one of Adrian’s customers told him recently:

“When I see you through the camera, it’s like you’re there in front of me.”

And it’s his hope that anyone meeting him in the flesh would say,

“‘actually, you’re exactly the same as you are on video’. To me, that’s how you can be transparent and authentic.”

The 3 essentials to getting the right look in your live videos

Now, being authentic is important, of course, as is delivering great quality, useful content, but when it comes to looking professional in your live video, Adrian focuses on three key areas: your set, your equipment, and yourself.

#1 The set

Just as people put off filming until they have the best or most expensive tech, lots of you may put it off because you don’t feel that you have the right ‘studio’ space to do your live video justice.

But, as plenty of Adrian’s clients can attest, there’s nothing to stop you creating a professional-looking set using a spare bedroom and a vinyl backdrop or setting yourself up in your garage in front of a brick wall — you could be surrounded by mess but as long as the two-metre space right behind your head looks okay, you’re sorted.

The most important thing is to really think about your backdrop; does it complement you, does it add to your story? Or is it distracting? Are people going to be so busy trying to figure out what’s behind you that they forget to listen to what you’re saying?

If you’re really struggling for space, you could even explore green screen or video options, which can be loads of fun and much cheaper to implement than you might think.

#2 Your equipment

When it comes to equipment, Adrian admits that he feels he should say, “just work with what you’ve got”. But he can’t quite bring himself to do it! Because he’s seen, time and time again, what a difference having the right equipment can make to your live video and firmly believes that investing in the right kit is something you should do as soon as possible.

Adrian’s customers can confirm that it’s an investment worth making. They often tell him things like,


“now I’ve seen how good I can look, it’s actually really helped my confidence, and I’m excited to be making videos. I didn’t know I could look this good on video!”


And confidence is key, not just to the audience’s perception of you, but to your enthusiasm for the whole venture. It’s something Adrian’s seen play out during his photography days too.


“There are plenty of people that I've spoken to that have said to me, ‘’Sorry, I don't do photos. I don't take a good photo.’ And then I'll catch something and they go, ‘Oh, that's really nice actually. Could you send that to me?’ We all like to look good in a photo and it's the same with video.

So, yes, it’s an investment, but it’s not silly money. Buy it once, and then every video is going to look great. You won't be looking back in six months going, "But those videos look really bad now."


So what equipment does Adrian recommend? Well, you can catch his full equipment list here, but for now, we’re going to focus on possibly the two most important tech aspects for your live video: lighting and camera.

#3 Lighting

While Adrian believes that the camera is the more important of the two, you ignore lighting at your peril! He says that typically people get softbox kits with corkscrew bulbs and a fixed colour coming through. The problem with these is that they can make you look very pink, or even purple, depending on the ambient light in your recording space. He recommends lighting with a variable colour temperature and prefers ones that come with a remote control feature so that he can adjust them from where he’s sitting and filming.

He doesn’t rely on his lighting equipment alone, however, and says he rarely takes them above 40% power. Rather, he prefers to let them complement the natural light already present in the room, creating a more natural look and avoiding the common pitfall of having a warm look behind you and a cool look in the front.

Adrian is also keen to offer a word of warning about ring lights. He’s seen a slew of entrepreneurs who stick a ring light in front of them and call it job done and he’s not convinced it’s a great look:

‘It's not much different to having that photo taken when you've got a flash coming straight at you. Certainly, if you are a glasses wearer, you don't want to have those things in front of you because it's just going to create a ring around your eyes. Also, you don't tend to get many ring lights that have a variable colour temperature so for that reason alone I’d dismiss them.’

In fact, any light positioned in front of you isn’t a great idea if you wear glasses. For a much better effect, Adrian recommends positioning them higher up and over to the side instead.

Should You Use A Ring Light For Videos?

Best Lighting if you Wear Glasses:

#5 The final ingredient: you!

So your set is sorted, your tech is ready; that just leaves you as the third and final component of a professional-looking video.
And here, it’s all about confidence.

As Adrian says,

‘it's about remembering why you do what you do, getting passionate about it. I've got a card that says, "You rock," on the wall behind me there. I got it from one of my customers and it talks about the impact I’ve had on him and how much he loved my course. It catches my eye now and again and reminds me why I'm doing this; that actually I'm helping people get over this hurdle. They want to be able to create an online course or whatever it is, but they're stuck, and they can't make the videos. For me, that's my why. That's why I'm doing what I'm doing. It's why I'm passionate about it.’

He likens making videos to that moment that you’re chatting to a potential customer in a coffee shop when they start talking about whatever challenges they’re facing. And you light up because you understand where they’re coming from and you know you can help just by doing something that you love.

‘If you're doing the right thing online here and you're passionate about what you're doing, it ought to come through like that, really. I don't have to think, "Hang on a minute, what was I doing with my body language? Was I smiling enough? Was I looking at the camera? Because your passion oozes out of you.’

If you can get to that place of thinking, “I love what I do and I know I'm helping people” then actually a lot of that fear, a lot of these barriers just fall away.’.Click To Tweet

Adrian Salisbury

Who is Adrian Salisbury?

It's time to get Adrian onto the show. Adrian Salisbury is the guy who makes professional-looking video easy. Through his online training, Adrian works with solo entrepreneurs around the world, helping them to look and feel their absolute best on camera.

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The Confident Live Marketing Show

The Confident Live Marketing Show is a weekly live video show and podcast. It’s aimed at established entrepreneurs who want to level up their impact, authority and profits through the power of live video, webinars and podcasts. We’ll focus on knocking down the 3 main barriers these entrepreneurs face when creating live content - camera confidence/mindset, tech/gear and content marketing.

It’s hosted by Ian Anderson Gray. He is the founder of the Confident Live Marketing Academy and is the host of the Confident Live Marketing Podcast. He helps entrepreneurs to level up their impact, authority and profits by using live video confidently. He’s founder of Seriously Social - a blog focused on live video and social media tools. He’s an international speaker, trainer, teacher and consultant. He has a passion for making the techno-babble of live video and social media marketing easy to understand. As well as being a geek, husband, and dad to two kids, Ian is also a professional singer and lives near Manchester in the UK.


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About Ian

Ian Anderson GrayIan is the founder of the Confident Live® Marketing Academy and helps entrepreneurs to level up their impact, authority and profits by using live video confidently. Seriously Social is a blog focussed on live video and social media tools. He’s an international speaker, trainer, teacher and consultant.

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