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#NSAUN Twitter Stream – From the Webinar – Tweet Me Right: The Speaker’s Guide to Killer Audience Interaction Using Twitter

In Twitter & Presenting on March 31, 2011 at 5:08 pm

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Tweet Me Right

I’ve captured the tweets from today’s NSA Webinar:  Tweet Me Right:  The Speaker’s Guide to Killer Audience Interaction Using Twitter.


Click the link below to see the tweets.  And note, just like in the Twitter stream, the most recent posts at the top.

Twitter Stream NSA Tweet Me Right Webinar


If you have any further questions or want to add to the conversation, please add them into the comments!



Twitter – The Presenter’s New Best Bud – Part 11 – Real Friends Help You Be Better

In Twitter & Presenting on February 9, 2011 at 2:09 pm

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Tweets tell you what's inside audience member's minds.

Do you have a friend who is willing to tell you the truth, even when it’s something you don’t want to hear – but you know it’s something you need to hear?  My husband Rich is like that.  One of the things I love best about my husband is his ability to be direct.  It doesn’t mean I always love hearing those pieces and parts where I’m not perfect.  But it saves me a lot of heartache later when I do.  Well Twitter can be that best bud for you in the audience.  It could be the source where you find out what’s working and what’s not working with your presentation.


What Do the Tweets Say?

What are your tweets saying about your presentation?  It could be any number of things.  The tweets will tell you what resonates with your audience.  The tweets will tell you if what you thought you were saying is what your audience members are taking away.  And if you’re not connecting with the audience, the tweets will tell you that too.

Think about it.  Through the tweets you’re seeing into the mind of your audience while you’re speaking – how cool is that!!

Take the time after your twitter enhanced presentation to review the tweets and see if you’re connecting the points the way you’d hoped in your presentation.  If you are, great!  If not, now you know and you can work on it.

Continue Your Twitter Interaction Journey

There are two excellent resources available that will help you continue to learn the ins and outs of using Twitter as an audience interaction tool.

Olivia Mitchell has written a fabulous e-book that she offers for free on her website.  The e-book is called How to Present with Twitter (and other Backchannels)Download the e-book here.

Cliff Atkinson’s book The Backchannel is another terrific resource for incorporating Twitter into your presentations.  You can find out more information about Cliff’s book here.  The book is available through Amazon as well.

What Do YOU Have to Say?

Now it’s your turn.  What cool things have you learned about the experience of using Twitter for audience interactions?  Please share in the comments below.  Include links to your blogs or articles as applicable.  Let’s all learn together!



Twitter – The Presenter’s New Best Bud – Part 10 – Keep the Conversation Going

In Twitter & Presenting on February 8, 2011 at 8:02 pm

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After the Presentation Is Over

SoCon11.  Following the questions from the panel moderator, the floor was opened for audience questions.  Runners maneuvered around the packed house getting microphones to those who had questions.  As the time allotted on the program came to an end, there were still folks with hands raised who didn’t get a chance to ask their questions.

While you might like to continue answer questions, you have to honor the time table of the event planners.  Now with Twitter, you can enjoy another channel to keep the conversation going.

Before You End Your Session, Ask Them to Keep Connected

Toward the end of your presentation, encourage your audience to continue the conversation with you and with each other.

Announce a place online where you can continue to connect.  Use a follow up page on your website or a special place on your blog.  Invite the audience to engage there.

Provide the link to your online connection on your handouts.

Let your audience know that you’ll continue to answer questions on Twitter using the session hashtag.

If you’ve build rapport with your audience, if you have additional information to share with them, having a way to connect after the presentation is important to building that relationship.

Follow Up after the Presentation – Blog/Webpage

The previous post of this blog is an example of an online follow up from a session.  It was a small audience with only a few people tweeting so I reordered the tweets from earliest to latest to make them easier to follow along.  For a bigger group with more tweets, I would have just listed them as they appear in Twitter from most recent to earliest.  By posting the tweets on a blog, there is place for people to comment and keep the conversation going.

Based on what works best for you, consider how you might continue the discussion with your audience.  A blog works well because it has a built in area for comments.  If you don’t have a blog, is there another way that you can set something up through your website that will give people the opportunity to keep connecting?  Find whatever works well for you and that will be easy for your attendees to adapt to.

What have you found that works well?  I’d love to hear!  Please add your comments below!

Follow Up after the Presentation – Twitter

The other thing I’m doing is to keep monitoring the session hashtag.  There was one follow up question and I answered that on Twitter.  I answered that tweet on Twitter and then copied it into the follow up page on the blog. If it had been a bigger audience with more questions, I could have answered any unanswered questions from the session on Twitter as well. I will continue to check the session hashtag over the next few days for any follow up questions.

Be sure to block time on your calendar after an event for your follow up.  After all, if people want to engage with you, you’ll want to be sure to be there when they arrive!

Let Your Handouts Help

In addition to flashing follow up information on a screen and discussing in your presentation, be sure to include that the online and twitter hashtag on your handouts as well so people are able to follow up.

What Have You Found Helpful in Your Follow Ups?

Have you used other techniques in your follow ups with audience members?  What’s working well for you?  Please share in the comments below, we’d love to hear!

Next Post – The Coolest Part of Twitter Interaction

There is still more work to do after the presentation.  And this part is really cool!  See the next post!

Twitter – The Presenter’s New Best Bud – Part 9 – Kelly Vandever’s Twitter Stream at #SoCon11 #Tweetrt

In Twitter & Presenting on February 7, 2011 at 3:20 pm

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Tweet Me Right - SoCon11

As promised – below are the tweets from my session at SoCon11 on Saturday plus a few follow-ups tweets.  Thanks to the attendees who made it a great session.  And special thanks to my Twitter moderator Jay Lambert @lambertjay who was awesome as you’ll see from the tweets!

I’ve reordered the tweets and grouped related tweets together to make the stream easier to read.
LambertJay: Moved to room 3019 RT @KellyVandever: Involve your audience! Use Twitter backchannel! Tweet Me Right session #tweetrt #Tweetrt

LambertJay: Vandever – #SoCon11 Read Cliff Atkinson’s The Backchannel – Tweet Me Right #Tweetrt
LambertJay: Vandever – #SoCon11 Backchannel is things going on outside of speaker addressing audience; back of the room, water cooler, Twitter #Tweetrt

LambertJay: Vandever – #SoCon11 When should you incorporate Twitter in a speaking session? Depends on your audience. Some might not be ready. #Tweetrt

LambertJay: Vandever – #SoCon11 But some audiences will surprise you and embrace Twitter. Talk to them about it. #Tweetrt

judiknight: Starting Tweet Me Right session with Kelly Vandever #tweetrt #

LambertJay: Vandever – #SoCon11 If encouraging tweets during session, give instructions up front -> the hashtag, RT if have same question, etc. #Tweetrt

WendyKinney: #SoCon11 #Tweetrt @KellyVandever Retweets from the audience let the speaker validate the relevance of questions. WLK-the question I didn …

LambertJay: Vandever – #SoCon11 To engage audience before session, promote the entire event! Know your material & audience. Start tweeting b4 #Tweetrt
LambertJay: Hey @DawnGartin – do you have a #Tweetrt question? 🙂 #Tweetrt

@DawnGratin is a mutual friend of @LambertJay and I.  Jay knew Dawn wasn’t able to come to #SoCon11 so he asked if she had a question.  There have been cases where a person unable to attend an event has been following the Twitter stream and tweeted a friend at the event to request the friend ask a question — the person outside the room gets to benefit from & interact with the session.  How cool is that?!

WendyKinney: #Tweetrt does is matter if the Tweet begins with the #? @KellyVandever #SoCon11

KellyVandever @WendyKinney answer to ? placement of hashtag- anywhere OK. Some people use it as part of sentence, some lead w/it, Tweetchat puts at end.

WendyKinney: Put things on the screen that the audience can tweet. @KellyVandever #Tweetrt #SoCon11

LambertJay: Vandever – #SoCon11 Include soundbites in your session which you know are tweetable (and retweetable) #Tweetrt

WendyKinney: and are the places to find out if your hash tag is available #Tweetrt #SoCon11 @KellyVandever

LambertJay: Vandever – #SoCon11 Spend time before session listening/following what’s being said on session hashtag. Interact. #Tweetrt

LambertJay: Vandever – #SoCon11 Use Twitter in advance to set the tone of your session #Tweetrt

LambertJay: Vandever – #SoCon11 Don’t open your session with the Twitter logistics; still have a good opening first #Tweetrt

LambertJay: Vandever – #SoCon11 Include Twitter breaks in your session to answer questions, etc. Enlist a Twitter moderator to help out. #Tweetrt

LambertJay: RT @WendyKinney & are places to find if your hashtag is available #Tweetrt #SoCon11 @KellyVandever #Tweetrt

LambertJay: RT @WendyKinney: #SoCon11 #Tweetrt @KellyVandever Retweets from the audience let the speaker validate the relevance of questions. #Tweetrt

WendyKinney: @KellyVandever losing eyecontact with tweets is the same as when the audience is taking notes. Get used to it. #Tweetrt #SoCon11

LambertJay: Vandever – #SoCon11 Have to get over people ‘not paying attention’ to you; if tweeting, they are still engaged. Serve your audience #Tweetrt

chenwilliams: #Tweetrt Tip: tweetworthy = content, tweetable = characters #SoCon11

KellyVandever RT @chenwilliams: #Tweetrt Tip: tweetworthy = content, tweetable = characters #SoCon11 – I really like how you summarized this point!

LambertJay: Vandever – #SoCon11 Tweets tell you what audience getting from your presentation. How valuable! #Tweetrt

WendyKinney: @KellyVandever answering all the questions in Twitter brings more benefit to your extended audience. #Tweetrt #SoCon11

judiknight: Ability to Look inside the brain of audience while presenting. @Kellyvandever @lambertjay #tweetrt #socon

LambertJay: Vandever – #SoCon11 doesn’t recommend posting tweets behind you as you speak; some comments can fluster you #Tweetrt

chenwilliams: What you say may not = what people hear, but you can see if you #Tweetrt #SoCon11

LambertJay: RT @chenwilliams: What you say may not = what people hear, but you can see if you #Tweetrt #SoCon11 #Tweetrt

Retweets from a mutual friend of @LambertJay & @KellyVandever who couldn’t make #SoCon11.  Thanks for the RTs Dawn!

dawngartin: RT @LambertJay: Vandever – #SoCon11 To engage audience before session, promote the entire event! Know your material & audience. Start tweeting b4 #Tweetrt

dawngartin: RT @LambertJay: Vandever – #SoCon11 Include soundbites in your session which you know are tweetable (and retweetable) #Tweetrt

dawngartin: RT @LambertJay: Vandever – #SoCon11 Use Twitter in advance to set the tone of your session #Tweetrt

dawngartin: RT @LambertJay: Vandever – #SoCon11 Include Twitter breaks in your session to answer questions, etc. Enlist a Twitter moderator to help out. #Tweetrt

dawngartin: RT @LambertJay: Vandever – #SoCon11 Have to get over people ‘not paying attention’ to you; if tweeting, they are still engaged. Serve your audience #Tweetrt

Thank you tweets.

KellyVandever: #socon11 – thanks to attendees at #tweetrt breakout session – I appreciate you playing along!

KellyVandever: @lambertjay – Thanks for being an awesome Twitter moderator & twitter today during #socon11 #tweetrt! You rock!

LambertJay: Thx. Had fun! RT @KellyVandever: @lambertjay – Thanks for being awesome Twitter moderator & twitter today during #socon11 #tweetrt You rock!

Follow up conversation.

LambertJay Vandever – #SoCon11 How come up with tweetable bites without sounding canned? #Tweetrt

KellyVandever: @LambertJay -re your question how 2b tweetable w/out sounding canned- #tweetrt -hmmm be sincere, humorous, giving – what r your thoughts?

LambertJay @KellyVandever Provide 1-line summaries of your key points. Include a cool statistic on occasion. These are easy to tweet. #Tweetrt

KellyVandever: Well said! RT @lambertjay: @KellyVandever Provide 1-line summaries of key points. Include cool statistics. These are easy to tweet. #Tweetrt


WendyKinney: Lucky you! Get @KellyVandever ‘s slides from #Tweetrt #SoCon11 HERE>> (expand)


There are still a few points before concluding this series.  More to come on follow up after your program!

Kelly Vandever – Tweet Me Right Slides from SoCon11

In Twitter & Presenting on February 6, 2011 at 2:07 am

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It was a great day at SoCon11.

Below is a copy of  my slide deck from my presentation.

SoCon11 Tweet Me Right

Looking forward to next year!


Twitter – The Presenter’s New Best Bud – Part 8 – Making the Most of Twitter During the Presentation

In Twitter & Presenting on February 4, 2011 at 2:52 pm

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Ultimately, it's about delivering your content.

Gee, looking back over the last 7 posts (has it really gone on this long?) it’s a bit like expecting a new baby.  There’s a lot of preparation and fuss during a pregnancy just like there’s a lot of fuss and preparation to prepare an audience to tweet.  But just like with a pregnancy the most important part is the baby, so too with your presentation in that the most important element is your content.  Let’s not forget that!

So you’ve set the tone, told the audience what to tweet, and got your moderator set up and ready.  Then you deliver your presentation with the same vim and vigor that your topic deserves.  You take the occasional Twitter break to get the audience’s feedback… so what else is there?

Sound Bites – In Tweety Words or Less

Go through your content and ask yourself what your key messages are.  What elements of your presentation do you consider tweet-worthy?  What would bring the most value to your audience if they believed or did what you espouse?  Now, how could you say that phrase … in 100 characters or less?

Why 100 Characters

As mentioned in previous posts, you want your audience to tweet using the event hashtag and your session hashtag.  Ideally, you also want them to include your Twitter handle to give you credit for the wisdom you share.  I did the math for my speech tomorrow at SoCon.  #Socon11 #Tweetrt @kellyvandever – is 32 letters!  32 letters are already “spoken for” of the 140 characters before the audience even tweets one question or retweets a fabulous comment.  So as I review my material, I look for places in my slides where I might add a tweet-worthy phrase – and generally, if I keep it to 100 characters or less, there’s still room for hashtags and Twitter IDs.

For example, here are some tweety-worthy phrases what I came up with for the SoCon11 presentation –

Tweet Unto Others as You Would Have Them Tweet Unto You @CliffAtkinson – 70 characters

Make hashtag memorable enough to stick – 38 characters

Don’t make your hashtags so long there’s no room for tweetable content. – 71 characters

Be tweetable in 100 characters or less – 39 characters

Continue answering audience questions on Twitter until they’re all answered. – 78 characters

Tweets will tell you what’s inside your audiences’ minds. – 57 characters

Hopefully, the audience will gain other great knowledge that they will find tweet-worthy as well.  The tweets will tell the ultimate tale!

Invite the Audience to Keep the Conversation Going

How often in a presentation do you wish you could cover more material?  Or have you had to end the session before all the questions got answered because of time constraints?  Before ending your presentation, invite the audience to keep the conversation going by letting them know how they can stay connected.  Answer their questions on your website or blog.  Tweet answers to the questions that didn’t get answered in the session.  Ask them to tweet any additional questions they might have.

When you’ve connected with an audience and engaged them with your content, how great would it be to keep the conversation going even after you’ve all left the room?  (Pretty great I think!)

What’s Next?

Next week, I’ll be practicing what I preach after my SoCon11 speech, Tweet Me Right – The Presenter’s Guide to Killer Audience Interaction Using Twitter. On the blog, I’ll copy all the tweets that happen during the session.  I’ll post answers to the questions, both those that we answer in the room and those we don’t get time to answer.  I’ll invite you to participate too.

I don’t expect my breakout session at SoCon11 to be huge.  But hopefully we’ll get enough Twitter chatter going to make for an illustrative blog next week!

Until then, deliver your next message well!

Twitter – The Presenter’s New Best Bud – Part 7 – Coaching Your Twitter Moderator

In Twitter & Presenting on February 3, 2011 at 5:52 pm

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My Fancy New Bike

My husband has run triathlons for several years, all the while inviting me to join him.  I eventually decided that while I had no desire to run or swim, it might be fun to ride bicycles together.  I always liked riding bikes as a kid and it would give us a way to exercise and spend time together.  While of course I didn’t forget how to ride a bike, the new bicycle I got had way more moving parts than I remembered as a kid.  I made my husband teach me how to deal with all the gears, when to use what and how to factor the bike computer into the equation.  It took me a little bit to get the hang of it, but because I got specific directions, I was able to adjust to my new “fancy” bike.

Using Twitter as a moderator is a little like having to learn about the fancy new bike.   There are a few more moving parts as a moderator that make it a little different than how the moderator already uses Twitter.  Fortunately though, it’s much simpler than learning how to use my new bike!

Written Guidelines

I recommend taking a little time to provide the moderator with some basic guidelines so that he or she has information available to refer to as they prepare for and execute the role.  In my experience, some people get a little nervous adjusting on the fly so the more “known” part they have about the role, the easier it is to stay focused on their role monitoring the Twitter channel.  Here are the things I include in my guidelines:


The hashtag for the event is #___________.

The hashtag for the session is #___________.

Getting started.   The Moderator should:

    • Go to and log in with your Twitter user name and password.
    • Search on the session hashtag #___________.
    • Decrease the refresh speed to the fastest refresh speed (5 seconds last time I looked).
    • Watch the twitter feed throughout the session.

What I as the presenter will be doing

    • I will introduce the session hashtag toward the beginning of the session and post it prominently in the room if at all possible.
    • I will let the audience know that you as the moderator will be monitoring tweets with the session hashtag.  I will encourage the audience to tweet questions or comments about what they’re hearing during the session.
    • I will also encourage anyone who wants to monitor the session hashtag to retweet anything they agree with.  If the audience hears something they like, then they’re sharing valuable information with their followers.  If the audience member has the same question or the same disagreement as another’s tweet, I encourage them to retweet that too.  Those retweets let me as the presenter know that there is more than one person who has the same question or issue so I can be sure to address that topic

What the Moderator needs to do

    • As the moderator, tweet directly from TweetChat.  TweetChat will automatically put in the session hashtag and post the tweet from your Twitter account.  Please type in the conference hashtag too so that the conference organizers and those who couldn’t make the conference get the benefit of the Twitter conversation.
    • If someone has a simple questions that you can answer (What time does this session end?  What did the speaker say her name was?  What was the website that she said the moderator was using to monitor the Twitter stream?) please tweet a reply to help that person out.
    • I will take a Twitter break approximately 15 minutes into the program.  I will turn to you at that time and ask for any feedback from the tweets so far.
    • As you monitor the tweets, look for trends.  If anything is retweeted, particularly questions or disagreements with content, be sure and bring up that topic during the Twitter breaks.
    • Subsequent Twitter breaks will be in approximately 15 minutes intervals.  I will again turn to you to see what questions or feedback there may be.
    • For smaller audiences, expect that discussion and questions will come through traditional verbal exchanges between the attendees and me, even with the Twitter discussion.
    • For audiences new to the concept, expect some experimentation and joking around (“Hey, world, look at me”, ribbing a buddy across in the room, etc.).  That kind of experimentation is fine.  Once I get into the meat of the content, the audience should focus on the material and get involved in the conversation.
    • If things start going off track and the Twitter backchannel is talking about it – for example – the audience can’t hear the speaker, the speaker is talking too quickly, or people are going on too long with the “Hey, world, look at me” chatter, get my  attention and bring the situation up as soon as possible.  I’d rather handle it early so that everyone – audience member, you as the moderator, and me – is able to adjust to the interruption with their dignity intact.
    • For larger audiences, Twitter will be a godsend to look for trends and to hear great questions from the introvert who would never speak up in a big crowd.

I’d love to hear your feedback after using these guidelines! Were they helpful?  What was the hardest thing about moderating the backchannel?  What was the most surprising?  What was the coolest part?  I’d love to hear what you think!  Add comments below.


More tips for you as the presenter!

Twitter – The Presenter’s New Best Bud – Part 6 – The Twitter Interaction

In Twitter & Presenting on February 2, 2011 at 3:08 pm

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The Twitter Audience Interaction Recipe

My mom was a great cook… but she didn’t have a ton of patience.  Consequentially, she never taught me to cook and her cooking always seemed to have this mystical quality.  I lived in the dorms throughout college so I never learned the culinary arts during that time either.  Rich and I married the same weekend as I graduated from Iowa State University and, fortunately for both of us, we received a couple of cook books as wedding gifts.  When I finally cracked open the cook books and took on this mystery that was cooking, I found out what many of you probably learned at a much younger age, cooking was no big deal.

That’s what it was kind of like the first few times I integrated the Twitter backchannel into my presentations.  It was way easier than I thought it would be.

Is Your Audience Tweeting Yet?

While Twitter interaction has caused a stir at a number of technology and educational conferences, it really hasn’t caught on widely with most meetings.  It’s not uncommon to have a small number of audience members tweeting even in audiences that aren’t stereotypically techies.  But on a large scale, Twitter activity is not running rampant in the conference and meeting rooms of America.

I’m not alone in thinking this will eventually change.  Audiences love to be engaged.  If speakers are not providing engagement, audience members have a free tool with Twitter to create their own interactions – even if it’s not with the speakers themselves.  While many audiences have not yet been introduced to the idea of tweeting and therefore aren’t prepared with a laptop or an app on their phone to tweet, this will change.  As they see more of their colleagues tweeting and as they see value in it for themselves – whether it be entertainment, interaction, or providing others with good content – the trend of tweeting during presentations will continue to go up and up.

If your audience isn’t twitter happy yet, don’t despair.  Just introduce the concept, give the few twitters a chance to interact, then keep engaging your audience in the ways that you have been before you were introduced to this whole Twitter option.

Twitter Breaks

As mentioned in previous posts, taking Twitter breaks periodically through the presentation will give you a chance to see how the material is connecting with your audience and address any questions or issues that have come up.  By using Twitter as an interaction tool, you have another way, particularly in large audiences, to better meet your audience’s needs.  One of the keys to making the Twitter interaction successful is engaging a Twitter moderator.

Twitter Moderator

As a presenter, it’s important to be focused delivering your content and connecting with your audience.  That’s plenty of work in and of itself.  To be speaking and trying to monitor the Twitter backchannel at the same time… well 99.97% of us, this is a bad idea.  The solution, select a Twitter moderator to monitor the backchannel for you.

This same technique has been used for years in webinar presentations.  One person delivers the content via an on-line tool, flipping through slides, and another person is monitoring the “chat” feature available in the webinar software.  The presenter occasionally asks the person monitoring the chat if there are any questions from the participants, then proceeds to address the chatted concerns.

The Twitter moderator serves the same purpose.  It’s someone who is monitoring what’s being tweeting with the session hashtag so that the presenter can focus on delivering the material and answering questions where a break makes sense.

Occasionally, the moderator can answer simple questions via Twitter.  This would be appropriate for questions such as:  “What time does this session end?”  “What did the speaker say her name was?”  “What was the website that she said the moderator was using to monitor the Twitter stream?”  This helps out the audience member with a quick response so he can go back to focusing on getting value from the program.

Selecting Your Twitter Moderator

If possible, find someone in advance who is willing to serve as a Twitter moderator.  That way, you can select someone that you believe can keep up with the monitoring and who can feed you questions appropriately.  Plus you have time for a more in-depth discussion about the process and answer any questions he or she might have.  I also recommend providing the moderator with some guidelines for the process.  (More on that later.)

If you can’t find someone in advance, you can select your moderator at the meeting location.  While not ideal, it can be done by following the conference hashtag stream, and looking for someone who has been tweeting already.  He or she will obviously have a comfort with Twitter.  Tweet or find them and ask if they would be willing to attend your session and serve as your Twitter moderator.  Provide them with your guidelines and get them up to speed with what you’re looking for.

If that doesn’t work, as a last ditch effort, you could ask while in the room if anyone is on Twitter and would be willing to monitor the Twitter stream for you.  Having some help is better than trying to read through a grunch of tweets during your Twitter break looking for those tweets which would benefit the entire group.

Enough with that for today –

Tomorrow, we start by talking about coaching your Twitter moderator!

Twitter – The Presenter’s New Best Bud – Part 5 – Setting the Stage for Twitter Interaction

In Twitter & Presenting on February 1, 2011 at 2:12 pm

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Setting the Stage for Twitter Interaction

You’ve taken the first steps.  You’ve tweeted about the event.  A few of your pals retweeted your posts.  The day of the event arrives.  It’s your first time presenting with Twitter audience interaction.  My first piece of advice…

Be Vulnerable

I’m a competitive person.  Not being athletic, I steer away from sports because I despise losing.  Not being especially strategic, I quickly tire of board games that involve deep thinking.   But 7 years ago when I found out that the Toastmasters organization had speech contests, I was all over that like my dog Dude on kibble at feeding time.

One thing I learned in the process of competing in speech contests was that the speaker who told a personal story (rather than ones borrowed from books or movies) almost always won the contest.  And speakers who told personal stories where they, the speaker, were especially vulnerable seemed to win the biggest prizes.  When a speaker gets personal and reveals information about himself, when a speaker is vulnerable with an audience showing all her imperfections, the audiences appreciates the honesty and rewards the audience with their empathy (and in the case of Toastmasters speech contests, a little plastic trophy).

Just as being personal and vulnerable endures your audience to you, being honest and vulnerable with them about your first time or two interacting with Twitter will encourage the audience to be on your side.  Be confident.  Be prepared.  Don’t apologize.  But be honest in telling the crowd, “Hey this is new for me.  I think it will give you a cool way to chime into the conversation.  Let’s figure this out together.”  Picture yourself in an audience where the speaker makes this proclamation.  Wouldn’t you be willing to play along?

Open Well

Don’t open the presentation talking about the Twitter backchannel.  Open your presentation with an attention getter to draw your audience in.

(I’ll put “attention getting openers” on my list for a future blog post but for more information on how to avoid a lame start, see this article.)

After your brilliant opening, then set the stage about how you’ll be interacting using Twitter.

Twitter Novice versus Twitter Savvy Audiences

Remember in the last post how I talked about being good?  One of the elements of being good is knowing your audience.  How you introduce Twitter interaction to your audience will depend largely on how familiar they are with Twitter.

Twitter Novice Audience

If your audience is new to Twitter and hashtags, you will need to include some education of how it works.  There’s a good chance that audience members will decide to set up accounts right there in your room so they can start interacting.  Once they set up their accounts, expect a little goofing around, “Hey, is this thing working?”  “Bob, I didn’t know you were coming to this meeting.  They’ll let anyone in here!”  If this goes on too long, find a way to focus them back on the reason they are they are in the session in the first place.  If you’re good – if you’re discussing material that is relevant and meaningful to your audience – they will eventually forget the novelty and get engaged in the discussion.

Encouraging the Tweets

Announce your session hashtag and encourage your audience to tweet with both your session and the event hashtag.  Explain how this will benefit both you in the room plus those listening outside of the room.  Then ask the audience to do what you want them to do with the Twitter interaction.

Here’s what I encourage within my audiences:

Repeat Good Content

If you hear information that is valuable, share it with your followers and those following the session and event on Twitter.  One of the reasons to be on Twitter is to share good content with others.  Help out those who can’t be here to learn from this experience as well.

Ask Question

If while I’m speaking you have questions, tweet them.  Later on in the program, I’ll take a Twitter break.  I’m being helped today by my Twitter moderator [I then introduce that person by name to the crowd].  During the Twitter break I’ll turn to him and ask him what questions there were or what topics need to be addressed.  So if you have a question, tweet it.  If we don’t have time to answer all the questions during the session, then I’ll follow up with the questions [and then I describe how I’m going to do that – website/blog, via Twitter retweets/replies].


It’s OK to disagree with me on a point too.  If there something I’ve said you take issue with and you’d like to open a dialog, that’s cool too.  [Twitter moderators name] will let me know about those issues too.


If you decide to follow the Twitter stream and you see things that you agree with, I encourage you to retweet them.  If [Twitter moderators name] notices the same question retweeted several times, that tells us that I really wasn’t clear on this point so I need to go back and approach the information differently.  Plus we’ve all been in an audience where there’s one person who asks a questions that pertains only to them and while it’s important to them, there are other more burning issues that apply to more people.  Retweeting is a way that you can let us know that it’s not just one person that has the question and we really should make time to answer it during the session, rather than answering it afterward.

More To Come…

So we’ve talked about setting the stage.  Tomorrow will get into a little more discussion about Twitter interaction during your session.

Twitter – The Presenter’s New Best Bud – Part 4 – Whoops Two More “Before You Speak” Points

In Twitter & Presenting on January 31, 2011 at 5:21 pm

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I can’t believe I almost forgot this point!

Let me start by confessing that I am a learning junky.  I love to attend webinars and live events with educational content.  I especially love watching a good speaker.  But I know, and I’m guessing you do too, that the speaker doesn’t have to be a good presenter to get great value out of the material they present.

At a recent in-person event I attended, the speaker’s delivery wasn’t that good – but he had excellent content and I got a lot of value out of the presentation. There were only a couple of us tweeting during the presentation and we’re both nice people so we never would have tweeted disparaging comments about the speaker.  But not all audiences are kind.

So while maybe it should go without saying, I’m gonna say it…  Before you speak in front of an audience – be good.

Please don’t misunderstand.  When I say “be good,” I don’t mean you have to deliver a speech with the eloquence of President Obama.  What I do mean is make sure you’ve taken care of the basics.  Know your audience and what they care about.  Provide content that is meaningful and relevant to the audience.  Speak about topics you’re knowledgeable on and can speak passionately about.  Don’t read your notes or your PowerPoint slides.  Have great slides with lots of pictures and few words.  Practice your presentation.  Do the things that I’ve talked about on other blog posts on this site.  Care enough about your audience to put together a presentation that will help them.

It is the failure to “be good” that has caused the Twitter backchannel to turn ugly.  And while I may not agree with those who tweet mean things if they don’t get what they want out of a presentation, I certainly can relate to the frustration of having my time wasted.  Respect your audience by being good and they’ll respect you with their tweets.

Your Session Hashtag

Depending on organizers of your event, you may or may not have a session hashtag assigned to you by those who planned the meeting.  If they have assigned you a hashtag, honor them by using the hashtag they’ve assigned.

If the organizers have not assigned you a hashtag, then select one yourself keeping the following thoughts in mind.

  • Don’t make the hashtag too long

    You will be encouraging people to tweet questions and tweet content they find valuable during your presentation.  It’s hard to tweet anything meaningful if a preponderance of the 140 characters is taken up by a long session hashtag.

  • Make the hashtag memorable

    Use a hashtag related to the title of your presentation or to your name.  This can help your audience members more easily remember it while tweeting or afterwards if they want to review the Twitter stream afterwards.

  • Check to see if anyone is already using the hashtag

    Using or do a search to see if there are any current Twitter users who are already using the hashtag you’re considering.  If there are a quite a few tweets using the hashtag, I recommend finding another.  Having a unique hashtag that is not being used by others will make things easier for you during your actual session.

Seriously, the fun starts with the next post!

Sorry to tease you last post that the fun stuff would start today… but these were two really important points to make before we leap into your actual session time.

Come back tomorrow and I promise to begin with the fun stuff!