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Tutorial: How to Nail Your First LinkedIn Live Event

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Recently I completed my first LinkedIn Live experience, and I have to say (in all modesty), that it went pretty well, but only because I tested three trial events before I finally went live (and did three more after to figure out what happened and why and write this article). In this tutorial, I share some lessons learned, plus a suggested workflow, and correct some common misconceptions about LinkedIn Live and Riverside.fm, the tool I used to access LinkedIn Live. Plus, I’ve added some recommendations that LinkedIn and Riverside can adopt or ignore.

If you make it to the end, you’ll learn why it’s so hard to start your LinkedIn Live event smoothly (it’s not your fault) and some thoughts on how to start like a pro in the future.

You Can Stream to LinkedIn Live from Most Tools and Platforms

First, the misimpressions: Most YouTube videos I watched stated that you had to use a supported platform to access LinkedIn Live. This isn’t the case; you can stream to LinkedIn live from any service or tool that supports RTMP, which should be all of them. LinkedIn doesn’t make it easy or clear, but it’s simple once you know what’s going on. I detail this below.

Riverside.fm Doesn’t Fully Support LinkedIn Live

Riverside.fm is my go-to tool for recording interviews, but I had never tried producing a live stream through the service. Like many services, it allows you to choose LinkedIn as a destination and log into your LinkedIn account. But you can’t access events scheduled previously in LinkedIn via this connection. So, if you’re trying to figure out how to access a live event you had scheduled previously like I was, you can’t. And, of course, Riverside’s documentation doesn’t tell you that you have to use RTMP, and the existence of the LinkedIn link doesn’t suggest that it’s not wholly functional.

If you use one of the services that LinkedIn supports (Restream, Socialive, StreamYard, Switcher Studio, or Vimeo), you can access events set up on LinkedIn from these services. You can even set up events on LinkedIn from these services (from what I’ve seen in the YouTube demos I’ve seen). You can’t do either with Riverside.fm’s “LinkedIn support,” which is what makes it so confusing (Figure 1).

riverside.fm linkedin live

Figure 1. Riverside.fm lets you choose LinkedIn as a destination but falls way short compared to other services.

Note to Riverside.fm: Remove the LinkedIn link until you offer functionality similar to the other services.

There is a workaround. You can use the Custom RTMP connection to access the event. But that’s confusing as well, primarily on the LinkedIn side. Specifically, LinkedIn doesn’t make the stream URL and stream key available until an hour before the event and doesn’t tell you anything about connecting to LinkedIn Live on the Event page where you set up the stream and where you would expect this information to live.

Even on the Manage Streams page (which I didn’t know existed), it doesn’t tell you that the URL and key won’t be available until an hour (really ten minutes) before the event. So, if it’s your first event, you have no easy way to figure this out until an hour before the event, which is way too late.

OK, rant over. I’ll assume you care more about successfully creating a LinkedIn Live event than what I went through to figure it out. You can use this procedure to connect with any service or product that supports RTMP, not just Riverside.fm.

So here are the steps, first quickly and then with videos and explanations.

  1. Create the event. People can register and view the event from the page LinkedIn creates, which I’ll call the Event page.
  2. Go to the Manage Streams page. An hour before your event, you can click the Prepare to go live button to access the Stream URL and key. But, for the reasons explained below, you want to do this as close to the start of the event as possible.
  3. Clicking Prepare to go live takes you to the Setup Your Stream/Preview page (I’ll call this the Preview page). This page provides the Stream URL and Key and previews the audio and video stream once you’ve started it in your service or product.
  4. Paste the Stream URL and key into your service or product.
  5. Click Go Live (in Riverside.fm) or the equivalent in whatever app you’re using to produce your stream. This sends the stream to the Preview page, but not to the Event page.
  6. About ten minutes before your event starts, if your video is being received, the Preview page will enable a Go Live button. Click this button to send the video to your Event page and take the event live.
  7. During the event, you’ll need four windows open, all on your screen if you’re producing and speaking or spread over multiple streams. Specifically:
    • You’ll want the Event page open to respond to comments and ensure the video is playing.
    • You’ll want to monitor the encoder, though the other pages can hide this. For me, this meant a page open to Riverside.fm.
    • You’ll need your presentation accessible (if applicable) to move through the content and advance those pages. For me, this was PowerPoint.
    • You’ll want the Preview page accessible since this is where you stop the stream.
  1. To end the event, click End stream in the Preview window. If you simply stop transmitting, LinkedIn will display a black screen in the Event page video window.

That’s the pithy TL/DR version. Here’s the chatty, informative version.

Create the Event

To create the event, do the following:

  1. Click the LinkedIn icon on the upper left of the LinkedIn page to access your Home screen.
  2. Scroll down to Events, and click the + button, which opens the Create an event dialog.
  3. Complete the form. Be sure to select LinkedIn Live in the Event format field. If this isn’t an option, you may not have rights to produce a live event; see Figure 2.

live event linkedin

Figure 2. Creating the Live Event in LinkedIn

LinkedIn creates the Events page from which you will market your event, and your viewers will watch the event (Figure 3).

linkedin events page

Figure 3. The Events page is where you will market your event, and viewers will watch it

Note to LinkedIn: Consider adding a button or other link on this page, viewable only by the page owner, which connects to the Manage Streams page and says, “Click here to access stream information and credentials and to go live.”

Managing Your Stream

The next sequence of steps happens on LinkedIn Live’s Manage Streams page.

  1. Go to the Manage Streams page (com/video/golive/manage) shown in Figure 4. One hour before your event is to go live, the Prepare to go live button will activate and turn blue (it will be grayed out before then).

linkedin live manage streams

Figure 4. The LinkedIn Live Manage Streams page (click the image to see it at full resolution)

  1. Click the Prepare to go live button to open the Preview page to get your stream credentials, preview the live stream, go live to the Event page, and stop the stream.

Note the red message atop Figure 4. It seems that if you connect to the Preview page and preview the stream for longer than ten minutes, LinkedIn will terminate the stream. This may have happened to me on one of my test runs–I know the stream dropped off, but I’m not entirely sure of the cause. Either way, I didn’t connect and go live for my real production until 5 minutes before the scheduled time to avoid LinkedIn terminating the stream.

  1. Click Prepare to go live to enter the Preview Page.
  2. On the bottom right, click the Region drop-down list and choose the appropriate region. I used Northeast.
  3. Then click Get URL and LinkedIn will supply the Stream URL and Stream Key as shown in Figure 5.
  4. Paste the Stream URL and Stream Key into your encoder (Figure 6).

linkedin live preview page

Figure 5. The Preview page, where you grab the stream URL and key

linkedin live

Figure 6. Paste in the stream key and URL in your product or service.

In Riverside.fm, ignore the LinkedIn button and use the Custom RTMP button (see Figure 1) to paste in this information, which should look the same in any RTMP-capable product (like Wirecast or OBS) or service.

Transmitting in Your Preferred Product or Service

The transmitting step will vary by tool or service. With Riverside.fm, click Go Live. Riverside.fm will start streaming to LinkedIn and record the event as normal.

Once you go live, the stream will be sent to the Preview page but not to the Event page where your viewers are waiting. You see the Preview page below in Figure 7. You can play the audio and watch the video. On the bottom of the window, you’ll see the Stream Health tab which you can use to check the connection.

If you’re within ten minutes of the scheduled event, the Go Live button on the top right becomes active, and you click this to send the video to the Event page. If you’re not within ten minutes, as I’ve mentioned several times now, the stream may terminate unexpectedly – you see the warning in red text above Figure 7. If you lose the connection, the stream URL and key change, so you have to go through that process again. Best to connect to the service and go live very proximate to the scheduled start.

linkedin live preview

Figure 7. LinkedIn plays the incoming stream in the Preview page, ready to go live.

Click Go Live

I recommend running one or two tests before the event in a separate event to check audio/video and connection. Of course, if you run tests, they will all be live, so your LinkedIn followers will see you testing after hours. For some reason, in my case, the videos don’t seem to be deleted, so my tests are preserved for posterity.

Note to LinkedIn: Extend the preview window beyond ten minutes so event coordinators can test and debug the stream they will use. Consider enabling a private test event only the producer can see. YouTube and Facebook both have this. Trust me, none of my followers want to see me fumbling with live-streaming controls in my workout gear. And please let me delete all these practice videos.

As shown in the upper right of Figure 7, clicking Go Live will start the stream on the Events page. See the “Nailing the Start of Your LinkedIn Live Event” section to learn how to start streaming smoothly.

Don’t close the Preview window; this is where you stop the stream once you’re done.

Keep the Windows Open

During the event, you’ll need to keep at least four windows open:

  • You’ll want the Event page open to respond to comments and ensure the video is playing.
  • You’ll want to monitor the encoder, though the other pages can hide this.
  • You’ll need your presentation accessible (if applicable) to move through the content and advance those pages.
  • You’ll want the Preview page accessible since this is where you stop the stream.

To stop the event, click End Stream in the upper-right corner of Preview window (Figure 8).

end stream linkedin live

Figure 8. Click End Stream to shut off the stream.

If you simply stop transmitting from your capture application or service, LinkedIn will continue to broadcast a black screen, which is what happened to me until a helpful watcher prompted me to stop the stream. Fortunately, you can easily edit this out in the video editor after the event.

Boom, you’re done. It’s that easy.

Nailing the Start of Your LinkedIn Live Event

Here are a few final notes about starting your LinkedIn Live event gracefully. When you press the Go Live button to send the stream from your Preview page to your Event page, there’s an expectation that the show starts right then. “Hi, I’m Jan Ozer, thanks for coming…” should be the first thing the viewer sees, just one or two seconds after the stream starts.

When I went back to my live event, I noticed that the first 20 seconds of the stream showed me performing an audio check on (what I thought was) the Preview page. It was not the smooth start I had been looking for.

To understand why, I performed another test using the timer on my iPhone to track the latency between when I pressed Go Live and when the stream started in the Event page. You see the results in Figure 9, on the left the Event page, on the right a screen grab of when I pressed Go Live, which was about when the timer hit 1:00.

linkedin live cut

Figure 9. LinkedIn Live cut to the live stream more than 17 seconds before I pressed Go Live.

It took me about 5 seconds to get to the Event page, at which time the time code on my iPhone was 49:26. For a moment, I thought I was in the Twilight Zone; how could LinkedIn Live start the stream before I pressed Go Live?

The obvious answer was the stream latency, or the difference between what was happening live and what LinkedIn Live displayed, which was around 30–40 seconds. LinkedIn had 30–40 seconds worth of video in the system. Rather than cutting over with the video being input when I clicked Go Live (“Hi, I’m Jan Ozer”), it simply cut over immediately and started displaying the video in the internal cache. That’s why viewers of my live event saw me checking sound 30 seconds before I pressed Go Live. This leads to my last recommendation to LinkedIn.

Note to LinkedIn: Start the stream on the Event page when I press Go Live, not before.

How will I handle this until LinkedIn fixes it? I’ll wait 15 seconds, staring dumbly at the webcam to make sure nothing is showing in the cache that I don’t want the viewers to see. Then, I’ll cross my fingers like I do before any live event, press Go Live, and start talking.

Other than all this, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play? Riverside.fm managed the live stream well, and recorded the event at the normal high quality, making it easy to repurpose if I decide to do so. LinkedIn Live proved a fabulous platform for communicating with my audience before, during, and after the event.

Some rough edges all around, but overall, a great result.

(Author's Note: Note that both Riverside.fm and LinkedIn were responsive to my help requests, which I greatly appreciate. If I got anything wrong in this article, please LMK and I will correct.)

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