How to Incorporate Twitter into Your Presentation

At the Intermountain STC workshop this morning, we talked about how to build an online presence. During my portion of the workshop, I facilitated a discussion using Twitter. With the dozen participants, all sitting in front of computers with Internet access, I told them to go to Search.Twitter.com and search for the #imstc hashtag.

I posed a question for them to answer via Twitter. They responded, including the #imstc hashtag. When you include a hashtag in your tweet (placing it anywhere), you can read an aggregated view of all tweets tagged with that hashtag at search.twitter.com. After everyone responded, we read through the responses out loud and discussed them a bit.

The question I posed on Twitter

The question I posed on Twitter

When the discussion ended, I posed a new question for them to answer on Twitter and gave them a few minutes to respond. Then we read through the answers one by one, looked at trends and discussed them for a while. We did this about 4-5 times over the course of an hour. You can read the thread here.

The technique worked well because it required everyone to stay engaged. During most presentations, you can sit back and turn on your passive listening mode. But if you’re periodically interacting on Twitter to respond or analyze a question, it keeps you awake. And as a presenter, it’s a lot more fun when everyone is engaged like this.

I’m growing tired of presentations that are little more than lectures, so I’m going to experiment with more user-led techniques like this. Unfortunately, available wi fi at chapter meetings or conferences with participants who have computers or mobile data devices is pretty rare. But if you do have the opportunity, definitely try incorporating Twitter, even if only for Q&A at the end of your presentation.

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By Tom Johnson

I'm a technical writer working for The 41st Parameter in San Jose, California. I'm primarily interested in topics related to technical writing, such as visual communication (video tutorials, illustrations), findability (organization, information architecture), API documentation (code examples, programming), and web publishing (web platforms, interactivity) -- pretty much everything related to technical writing. If you're trying to keep up to date about the field of technical communication, subscribe to my blog either by RSS or by email. To learn more about me, see my About page. You can also contact me if you have questions.

13 thoughts on “How to Incorporate Twitter into Your Presentation

  1. Sridhar Machani

    Tom, This is a good idea to try during presentations. Yet another example of using simple, existing resources to do innovative things. Indeed, a lot can be done with little or no investment on the Internet, now more than ever.

    1. Tom Johnson

      Sridhar, thanks for the comment. I agree that making use of the Internet during a presentation is a simple way to enhance a presentation. I just wish the Internet were more widely available in places where we present.

  2. Pingback: notes from the mousepad » Blog Archive » Writing a good dent (or tweet) while at a conference

  3. Shyam Kapur

    I loved reading about what you did. I think making presentations interactive using Twitter and other similar services is a great idea. Once the data is collected, it can be analyzed in smart ways using other powerful tools. I want to bring to your attention one such tool, TipTop, the first real-time, semantic, social search engine. The beta version of TipTop is now live at http://FeelTipTop.com For example, the conversations that resulted from your innovative action are all there at http://www.feeltiptop.com/%2523imstc/ sliced and diced in a variety of ways.

  4. Mike

    Interactive presentations are the way to go. We recently did a hands-on training courses for Twitter and Facebook. Each person had their own workstation and it worked out very well. We believe that it is easier to learn if you hear how it is done, see how it is done and the do it!
    The only downside is that it is difficult to find “classrooms” that aren’t crazy expensive.
    Thanks for your post!

    1. Tom Johnson

      Thanks for the comment, Mike. I can imagine that people who get hands-on experience with Twitter and Facebook through this type of interaction learn the concepts much better than simply watching slides.

    1. Tom Johnson

      Amelia, I enjoyed your presentation. I’m really motivated to create a portfolio for my wordpress consulting. I liked all the examples you provided — it helped me get some good ideas. Thanks for presenting at the workshop.

  5. Paik

    involve all during a presentation using Twitter is a great idea, interacting in this way everyone will be even more careful.

  6. Rhonda

    Unfortunaely, the ugly side of Twitter at conferences came to light last week — see http://www.zephoria.org/thoughts/archives/2009/11/24/spectacle_at_we.html.

    As a speaker, I could relate to every one of her feelings, and I would hate to have been in her situation. There’s some very nasty mob mentality going on when this sort of thing happens (think “Lord of the Flies”).

    However, I think that being able to control the situation, as you did in your worksop, which was clearly focused on using social media such as Twitter, has a lot of merit.

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