NBA playoffs and the art of Facebook Live

The NBA Playoffs start Saturday. Though the wound from last year's historic NBA Finals loss to LeBron's Cleveland Cavaliers is still fresh, this long-time (read: NOT bandwagon!) Golden State Warriors fan is ready.

No doubt the players teach us a lot about what it means to play great basketball, but let's take a minute pre-playoffs to recognize the action that happens off the court.

Believe it or not, the likes of Jeff Van Gundy, Reggie Miller, and "Mama, there goes that Man" Mark Jackson, the NBA Playoffs can teach us how to improve our communication skills and maximize the increasingly popular Facebook Live.


So in the name of work and career advancement, here are the excuses you can give to the loved ones in your life as to why you must watch the 2017 NBA Playoffs (and Finals):

Work Facebook Live like the pros

Legends like Marv Albert, Craig Sager, and Bill Walton make the on-air broadcast look easy, but it's not. There are a lot of moving pieces to consider - questions to ask, commentary to give, what to wear, where to look, who to talk to and when, etc.

The same can be said for a successful Facebook Live. More work is required beyond "going live" and hoping for the best. So do yourself a favor and think of Facebook Live like a sports cast.

Make eye contact with the person you're talking to AND the camera. We know this breaks form big time with normal interviews where you're supposed to maintain eye contact with either the person you're talking to (if in-studio with a host) or the camera (if being interviewed via satellite), never both.  

But just like the greats have a conversation with the person next to them AND the people watching at home, you should too. This is a way to invite people into the conversation and allow them the opportunity to add a comment/question that you can address. Social media is all about interaction, and Facebook Live capitalizes on this reality.

Be at the center of the action

One thing I love about commentators in the NBA is their willingness to be on the floor. Unlike the NFL and MLB, the center of action isn't reserved for sideline reporters. 

So, for your Facebook Lives, be at the center of the action. Let the background tell the story. You have to give your audience a reason to watch and an interesting background certainly checks that box.

The most watched Facebook Lives are from protests, the Supreme Court, or Capitol Hill-so put boots on the ground. One of the most viewed Facebook Lives this political season was when President-Elect Trump visited Speaker Paul Ryan's office and got a tour of the speaker's balcony. A staffer grabbed his phone and started filming. The video isn't stellar, but the access it granted the viewer negated its sub-par production quality. (Not sure if this clip is the Facebook live clip, but I think we should link if we can.

Make it your goal to tell a story and grant access, and realize the setting can do a lot of the work for you. Get out of the stuffy, non-descript office and let the background speak for itself.

Talk about people

Like any good sports fan, I geek out over the box score. But I'm also a sucker for personal drama-tell me about the highs and lows off the court. 

Even though I can't stand Charles Barkley whining about the Warriors and any team who wins off the three pointer, I love his passion and understanding. I disagree, but I want to hear him drop some knowledge as to why he dislikes the strategy.

A good color commentator will also give you insight into who the players are - obstacles they've overcome, friendships with players on other teams, feuds with players on other teams, injuries sustained, etc. - because we like to learn about people.

This human interest isn't unique to the sports world, it translates to policy issues too. Interview  the people trying to reform bad policy or those affected by bad policy and why they want reform. Ask about the impact this change will have on families and communities rather than the budget. Focus on the people involved. Again, tell a story.

Watch the NBA playoffs through a new lens this year. Pay attention to the sports casters and color commentary to improve your Facebook Live efforts. Not only will you be treated to exciting basketball games with heartbreaking wins/losses, but you'll impress your boss and digital media team, and add a new line to your resume.

Beverly Hallberg (@BevHallberg) is the president and founder of District Media Group. She is also a visiting fellow in communications at The Heritage Foundation and 2016 winner of the William F. Buckley Award.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

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