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Use Twitter to Improve Your Next Presentation

March 8, 2012 1 comment

Thanks to Twitter, conferences are more social and open. A few years ago, if your audience is looking down at their mobile device, it probably meant that you lost them and they were checking email. These days, audience members clacking on their devices might mean they’re tweeting something meaningful that you said. Tweets from the audience benefit in at least four ways:

  • memorializes the important points from your presentation
  • expands your reach to folks that aren’t in attendance
  • promotes you as an authority on the subject
  • builds a relationship with the audience

Picture of a speaker

As a presenter, these benefitscome without any effort on your part. But why rest on your laurels, letting the tweets to fall to the ground? Analyzing your presentation tweets can help you improve and fine-tune your material for future opportunities.Here are five ways to use Twitter to improve future presentations.

1. What was tweeted/retweeted the most?

Which part of the presentation got the most tweets and retweets? These were the nuggets that came out of your presentation. This might not be what you thought was the most valuable, but that’s what the audience thought, which is what matters most. Review these tweets and see if they match what you thought were the most important quotes. If there’s a disconnect, fine-tune your presentation to make your nuggets more tweetable.

2. Where are the gaps?

Most likely, not everything you say will be valuable to your audience. There will be periods where no one is tweeting. Since tweets are time-stamped, you can estimate the lulls and figure out what you were saying during the long pauses. This doesn’t necessarily mean the material was boring or unimpressive. It could also mean that you were speaking too fast or tried to say too much at one time. There have been many times when I, as an audience member, tried to tweet something, but lost my thought halfway through because the speaker already moved on. When that happens, that’s a lost opportunity for the speaker.

3. Are people paraphrasing too much?

One of the drawbacks of twitter is that you have no control over what your audience is tweeting.  Sometimes, if you’re point is not clear and concise, your audience can begin the tweet with your words but end with their own. Of course, the audience is not purposely trying to twist your words, but if you speak too fast or have too many thoughts at one time, the audience might accidentally misinterpret or misuse your words. If there are many paraphrased tweets, you might want to chunk up your ideas or simplify the language the next time you present.

4.  Do you encourage your audience to connect with you?

Most likely, your audience will have questions. Many times, only a few are asked because 1) some people are too shy to ask in front of a crowd, 2) the questions don’t come until they digest the material later, or 3) you take too much time answering a question that people are afraid to ask another.

Remind your audience during the presentation to contact you if there’s a question. If you know your audience, you know which topics will generate the most questions. The interaction doesn’t have to be limited to the time in the conference room. Encourage them to engage with you after the conference and give you feedback on what was most/least helpful to them.

5. Is your presentation available online?

The most common question is probably: “can I get a copy of your presentation.” Why not put it online ahead of time and  announce the URL during your presentation? Once it’s online, you get the web traffic analytics, allow comments, enable sharing, and you have a web presence for your presentation to live on in perpetuity. Have a coworker or friend tweet it while you’re speaking.

Twitter is an integral part of trainings, conferences and educational events. If you are a speaker, don’t waste the opportunity to review the tweets about your presentation to improve for future opportunities.

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Presentation from the Tx Gov 2.0 Camp on 1/28/2011

February 3, 2011 Leave a comment

On Friday 1/28, I had the opportunity to present with Dustin Haisler at the Texas Gov 2.0 Camp in Austin, TX. Our session was about transparency in government, and I talked about DIR’s Biennial Performance Report from last November.

You can access the presentation by clicking on the image below.

Transparency and the Performance Report PowerPoint title screen shot

Top 10 Nuggets from SxSW Interactive

March 22, 2010 1 comment

There were plenty of good presentations from South by Southwest Interactive in 2010. Here’s my Top 10 quotable quotes with links to the speakers’ Twitter page.

#1.If you’re at a certain point in a project and you don’t like what you’re seeing, tell your client you don’t like it before they tell you. Clients don’t like to play the bad cop and they’ll be happy they didn’t have to come down on you (Wil Reynolds)

#2. It’s easy for the client to jump into the driver’s seat, but  you have to remind them that they hired you to be in driver’s seat (Greg Hoy)

#3. You need failure more than you need success. Success breeds repetition, failure breeds change (Tracy Halvorsen)

#4. Don’t spin your mistakes. Own them. Build up your trust bank. Every time you do something right, take opportunity to build up trust so when you make a withdraw with a massive f-up, the client will go easier on you (Wil Reynolds)

#5. Designing a website before writing content is like building an art gallery before you have the art (Karen McGrane)

#6. Designers should be researchers. Don’t wait for researchers to come to you, try to be involved in the interpretation of data. Conversely, researchers should be involved in the design process. (Chris Fahey)

#7. Social media is not merely a channel for pushing messages, so should success just equal awareness? If success is completely quantitative, then all press is good press. But what’s lacking is context; we have to take quantitative data and frame them into context (Sam Ford)

#8. The City is a machine. Infrastructure that manages the city can harness data to gain understanding of what’s happening. Cell phone usage, sewer systems, buses, intersection cameras, etc. But how do you close that feedback loop? People become key. Look at people as actuators to that feedback loop. People are both actuators and sensors (John Tolva)

#9. Search is not just an IT problem, it’s a knowledge management challenge (Peter Morville)

#10. Four secrets to what makes Amazon.com successful (Jared Spool)

a) Engage through content. Product reviews are content. Use them to engage potential customers.

b) Don’t fear new ideas. Take mitigated, controlled risks.

c) Eliminate “tool time” (moving forward without improvement)* while delivering confidence. Roll out new features in small phases so you can constantly improve

d) Never forget the business. That’s where you focus your resources.

* Not sure where he got that term from, but I don’t think it was a jab at Tim Allen and Home Improvement fans. And whatever happened to Jonathan Taylor Thomas? He was such a heart throb.