Adapting to Opportunity: 55 Things I Learned From 550+ Hours Invested in My Home Broadcast Studio Infrastructure!


By about March 1, I knew my world was forever changing, and that online broadcasting was going to be my reality for a long period of time. Boom! That happened – and so while the world was melting down and panic was setting in, I was busy building out my already existing home broadcast studio, ramping up its sophistication.

I’ve added multiple camera angles, a new “Studio 2”, and wonderful special effects that let me surpass the ability of any online speaker in the world today. To celebrate the countless hours I’ve put in – which I add up to some 550 hours of building, testing, broadcasting, going live, demoing, and doing actual client events – I cut together a video that mixes a clip from my ‘old world’ on stage with my ‘new world’ online.

What can I do? Just about everything! Check the multiple ‘stage’ shots here.

In respond to client demand, I’ve rolled out several new keynote topics:

I have learned a remarkable lot since those early days and I now know I am ready to serve this new, global online audience, and will blow them away with relevant, customized content delivered with a real, live, multimedia-rich interactive show. Here’s what I’ve learned along the way:

  1. it’s quite possible to deliver the same energy online as it is from the stage
  2. we need to build specific Q&A and other interaction-breaks every 7 to 10 minutes
  3. it is entirely possible to hold the attention of an online audience for an hour with that interaction – and if you have the right content
  4. I miss the clapping and cheering when I am done
  5. it was critical that I went “live” – so I established a weekly online show that went for 6 weeks just to experience it. I learned lots
  6. I had to make mistakes and fail – by doing so, I learned faster than if I had just dithered and postponed
  7. killer video is my new medium to emphasize a key point online – hence, my use of Jetsons in my video above
  8. Powerpoint and Keynote decks DO NOT work online
  9. it’s incredibly hard to find and buy appropriate AV gear online!
  10. it’s a good idea to have two studios – one for green screening and one for close-in shots
  11. a pre-event call with a client to discuss topic customization is the exact same process as it was for live events
  12. I have long hair, and it shows
  13. assembling an online broadcast keynote is just like assembling a live talk – storylines, content, compelling content
  14. it’s a really cool moment when you see your Zoom audience laughing at a key point
  15. I get the same small butterflies in my stomach going live online as I did going live in front of 7,500 in Las Vegas
  16. when it’s 8pm in my home in Toronto, it’s 8:30AM in Adelaide, Australia – but my online keynote has to rock!
  17. “Zooming it in” is the new phrase for “phoning it in”, or a keynote that has a speaker just showing up and providing a flat, uninspiring delivery. I’m Hyper-Zooming!
  18. few BIG speakers in the old world know how to deliver in this new world – I see few doing what I am doing
  19. I’ve spent more time finding pictures and video for my presentations than I ever did for my on stage world – because I have to hold the audience in a different way
  20. a great moderator makes for a great online keynote, particularly to manage the Q&A
  21. small things will go wrong – I learned I had to run with them
  22. I need to take a deep breath before I press the “GO LIVE” button – there is no turning back
  23. I needed to experiment, try, fail. If I were to seek perfection, I would never find it
  24. mastering the online world in that context is a path of constant marginal improvements – every hour invested is another minute in better live delivery
  25. I have learned I need to double check everything before I go live. It’s a bad moment when you forget to double check your equipment and find that you are using the wrong microphone
  26. build a checklist, live by it
  27. I ask lots of questions of people who are doing successful online broadcasting, and learn from them
  28. I spent time learning about studio design: things like stage styling, room and lighting setup and more
  29. find a community to do this! The software I use is found exam Live – and when I found the online Facebook group for people who use this software, it was like opening a magical box!
  30. I discovered there are some pretty amazing creative people out there who are not speakers but who broadcast in a whole new and different universe – this too came from the ECamm community
  31. I had to work hard to learn how to get better at camera style, letting my personality through, and bringing my stage style to my virtual presentation
  32. it was hard but I had to ingest the criticism. I learned that when I go live with an event, it might not go well and some people might not react how I might expect
  33. every failure, properly interpreted, was an opportunity to learn
  34. I truly came to respect the magical time in which I live. Someone made the comment that I can now do in my home broadcast studio what would have cost $250,000 for a high end broadcasting studio just ten years ago. We live in an era of online magic.
  35. I spent a lot of time watching the tutorial videos for the video platform I am using
  36. getting freaked out was not helpful. This is totally new and different territory – everything must be approached one day at a time. I had to stay calm throughout
  37. I had to stagger my approach. Getting involved in online broadcasting is like peeling an onion – with layer after layer of new opportunities to explore
  38. one of my best investments was signing up for a flat fee video / image stock footage site,  Audioblocks/Videoblocks. I use these regularly, and have found running some stock video footage of something while in a picture-in-picture setup makes a presentation magical
  39. you always want to get better gear. I could use a better Mac, better cameras, better microphones —  that time will come, it’s just not right now
  40. I discovered I should not bother trying to describe in an email to my partners, i.e. speakers bureaus – what I can do- it was better to bring them into my studio and give them an actual show
  41. I learned I could always find a way. At one time I needed to pump out a feed from my green screen to WebEx and thought it couldn’t be done. Then, I discovered that it can be done with the browser (Firefox or Chrome), not the desktop. Bingo!
  42. break things, and laugh a little. I came to realize that something would always go wrong when I went live. It was always something small and wasn’t a major disaster.
  43. keep the faith – wait for the big win. At some moment in time, I knew the payback would come. My first paid client gig was a BIG MOMENT
  44. enjoy the wins! One week, I made the national news in Canada with a studio live shot that looked really cool, and it was huge for me
  45. I had to learn that when looking at my Zoom feed live, it was reversed for me – long technical explanation – and so I had to learn to point at anything ‘opposite’ to what made sense
  46. don’t look down – my ‘production machine’ was below me while my camera was 2 feet higher. I added in an old iMac to act as a stage monitor so I would be looking up
  47. I had to remember to bring Kim’s plant back upstairs. It won’t thrive in the dark
  48. your new stage marks are made of tape, just like your old stage marks on a big stage in Las Vegas. Except these ones are a lot closer together.
  49. organize your stuff from the start. It isn’t helpful to have 550 hours of unorganized video, images and other show data that your wife and business partner now has to try to organize
  50. lights are tricky and you need to have a friend help you discover the shadows – which can be deadly in a green screen setting
  51. a small space works – don’t try to build a big stage presence in a small stage setting. You can do a lot in a 4×10 environment
  52. for a speaker who is used to ‘wandering a stage like a preacher’ (actual quote from an attendee at a presentation), learning to sit on a stool is a major step in learning the new environment
  53. I learned there are new tools that can do new things – a small iPad I use is now my stage remote, instead of my old stage remote clicker!
  54. I recorded everything I filmed – and this became invaluable for other purposes, including Web site content, followup edited videos and so much more!
  55. don’t wear a green shirt in front of a green screen. I did that one day and the result was wild!!!



THE FUTURE BELONGS TO THOSE WHO ARE FAST features the best of the insight from Jim Carroll’s blog, in which he
covers issues related to creativity, innovation and future trends.