Many of us are now looking for ways to engage with public groups in the absence of face to face events. Online platforms can provide a great opportunity to reach people in spaces and places they already use. In this blog entry we'll focus on using Facebook to give live talks. If you're interested in finding out more check out our Guide to Online Engagement. 

Why Facebook Live?

Over the last couple of months we've been working with the University's Social Media Team to put on weekly Facebook Live talks about research on the University of Bath Facebook page. We've found it a great platform to engage a large and geographically diverse audience with your research, each of our broadcasts have been getting between 3,800 - 7,800 views each.

What's in it for me?

Sharing your research on Facebook Live is not just about broadcasting your work, it's also a great opportunity to develop your skills and expertise and engage public groups remotely. Presenting a Facebook Live can help you develop your presentation skills using a new format. These events can also be used to start a dialogue with public groups, by looking through and responding to comments you can get a sense of how people feel about your research topic and what questions they might have. Some researchers have invited questions by email providing an opportunity to learn the effect their research topic has on people’s lives which can enhance and enrich future research.

Top Tips

We've gathered some top tips from researchers who've taken part in our Facebook Live series so far. Whilst these tips are gathered from our collective experience using Facebook the advice  applies to any kind of online talk or presentation. Find out more about our Facebook Live events series and how to take part.

1. Try it out before you go live

Before you start your Facebook Live, you’ll want to test your video and audio equipment. This is a good opportunity to practice your talk with a colleague, friend, or research group. Try to make your practice as similar to a live talk as you can – you could try live streaming from your personal Facebook page. You might want to record your practice talk and watch it back, pay attention to how the video looks and sounds and use this to help you set up your live talk. In our Guide to Online Engagement you'll find some useful hints and tips to help get the best quality video.

2. Use props, diagrams and printouts

Keeping an audience’s attention online can be difficult. Try using printouts of diagrams, drawings or other props to help keep your audience engaged and make your talk more dynamic. Something as simple as a diagram you’ve drawn yourself or a visual example of something you’re talking about can help. Watch Andy Barnes use diagrams and a globe to enhance his talk. Props can also help remind you where you are in the talk and what you'll be talking about next.

3. Keep notes and reminders on your screen

One advantage of recording on your computer or phone is that you can keep notes and reminders on your screen. These notes won’t be visible to the audience and can help you structure your talk and keep track of everything you want to mention. Just remember that it’s important to keep ‘eye contact’ with the audience by looking at your camera.

4. You can pre-record your talk

If you’re concerned that your internet connection might be unreliable or you may not have access to a computer at the time of your talk, you can pre-record a talk that can be scheduled to go live on Facebook at a given time. Watch Rob Edinburgh’s talk which was pre-recorded in New Zealand.

5. Introduce yourself

Remember to introduce yourself to the audience at the start of your talk. Start with your name, where you work at the University, and what is it you do. Not everyone watching will be familiar with all the University departments so think about how you might quickly explain what your department does and what kind of people work there. This helps gives your audience context for your talk and means they can learn a bit more about you as a person.

6. Tell the audience where to find out more

How will your audience learn more about your research if your talk has piqued their interest? You could link your audience to a website or online resource. Alternatively, you could interact with your audience directly by asking them to leave comments on the video which you can respond to afterward or by asking them to contact you at an email address. Remember to follow up on your offer and respond to comments and emails that you receive.

Rob Cooper is Public Engagement Officer at the University of Bath.

Posted in: Doing Public Engagement, Have a Go Opportunities

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