Wednesday, November 21, 2012

8 things I wish more speakers would post on Twitter

I'm a big fan of working with, not against, the Twitter backchannel during your speech. Tweets from the audience can be an invaluable heads-up for speakers about real-time issues, or just a great learning tool about how audiences react to their messages.

I don't, however, recommend you emulate this woman speaker, who "won" the backchannel by auto-posting tweets timed to her remarks, making it appear that she was live-tweeting her own speech. And you can do more than just share the date, time, location and hashtag for your talk, though those are a fine start.

Instead, there are at least 8 more fun and effective (and less controlling) ways for speakers to post about their speeches on Twitter. Here are just a few types of speaker tweets I'd like to see more often in my own Twitterstream:
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  1. Pre-speech thinking. It might just be jitters, or thinking out loud about the issue on the table. Either way, a little public musing before your talk gets me interested and helps me understand you better. You don't have to be a superhero professional whose tweets are all "Looking forward to another exhiliarating presentation to the Rotary Club!" In fact, I'd love to see more speakers share real thoughts and feelings about their upcoming gigs. Give us some details.
  2. A call for questions. Why not use Twitter to ask the audience for its questions ahead of time--whether they plan to be in the room for your talk or are just eavesdropping online? You'll get a better sense of the crowd and your topic that way. Bonus: Everyone can see your answers, no matter where they are, and those who might miss the session can still get a question in.
  3. Something about your introducer. Speakers ignore their introducers, for the most part. Be gracious and talk about the person who'll set the stage for you, with a couple of tweets about what you have in common, how you met or why she's the right person to talk about you.
  4. Links to your book. Don't just have it on the signing table after your talk. If you're speaking about a topic related to your latest book, share links on Twitter and tell us what you'll be addressing that's covered in the book in more depth.
  5. Special discounts. If you can share a discount to that book, your next webinar or training session, or some other product related to you talk, Twitter's a great, trackable place to do so.
  6. Links to "handouts." I wish more speakers would tweet links to further reading, detailed charts or lists of tips that would have been handouts in your presentations of the past. No need to save them until after your talk--you may get smarter questions this way. It's also an excellent way to plan a talk when you want to use detail and data wisely, but not too well.
  7. Shout-outs to the live-tweeters. If you know ahead of time who'll be live-tweeting your talk, alert your followers--and send those hard-working live-tweeters some love in advance. (Don't forget to thank them afterward, either.) While you're at it, go ahead and encourage others to tweet, perhaps with pointers to those "handouts" and other background they can study in advance.
  8. Photos of the audience and the backstage scene. Show the assembled crowd as they're gathering, like this view from the stage at the Pennsylvania Women's Conference, or when the hands are in the air at Q&A. It'll help the rest of us sense the energy in the room. Likewise, some backstage or green room photos give us a sense of being there.