Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Guest post: Live-tweeting my own talk

(Editor's note: My longtime reader and client Cate Huston shared a novel approach to social media as a speaker: She live-tweeted her own speech. As she points out, tweets can be a way of publishing your remarks and making sure they're heard beyond the room, two important advantages for women speakers. Here's how she did it and her analysis of how it went, from a post that appeared on her own blog and is reprinted here with permission. Thanks, Cate!)

The other week, I live tweeted one of my own talks. It’s captured here (thanks Kelsey!). I’ve been live tweeting a lot lately, and when I attend talks I take notes and/or live tweet so this became a natural extension. I’ve noticed a couple of other speakers (Kronda and Jo Miller) using tweets as part of their talks, so I wanted to try it.

I picked this talk because it was a small audience, and a last minute invitation so I was okay with being slightly less polished than usual, and because of the topic. I was talking about what happened at Grace Hopper (GHC) and live tweeting things that other people’s talks, so live tweeting my own seemed fair.

It was a slightly last minute decision, as I was going through my notes I had a thought “what if I do this” and so I didn’t have time to optimise it! I used Jo’s strategy of saving the tweets that I would send out in my drafts folder, and decided to number them at the start (1), (2), etc., so it would be easy for me to see at a glance which one came next. I accidentally tweeted instead of saved one as part of this process, but I quickly copied the text and deleted it so it was OK! I made sure to put my phone on DND mode so that I wouldn’t be distracted by notifications.

The best thing about live tweeting my own talk was that it allowed the reach of that talk to go beyond the small audience in the room. The collection itself has been pretty popular (and it made me very happy that someone had thought my remarks worth collecting!) as well as the individual tweets having good levels of engagement. It’s also nice that the message of this was curated by me – records of women speaking are often imperfect (my friend and amazing speaker coach Denise has been working on this for a long time) and I have been diligent about documenting my own talks in part because of this. One thing that I have done for a while is collect the tweets that happen during my talk into a Storify, it’s always a surprise what people have pulled out, or haven’t. In this case, the people in the room didn’t tweet at all, so if I hadn’t captured it myself there would have been no record, other than my notes (which I will eventually put up in a blogpost).

The drafts section of Twitter for iOS is not really set up well to do this. It was multiple taps to share each tweet. Buffer and “share now” would have been far better, so if I decide to do this again upgrading to Buffer Premium might be a better way to go, or giving my phone to a trusted friend in the audience.

I think I do need to pause more, so I figured taking this time for silence would be a good thing for my audience but I don’t think this worked as I had hoped – rushing to work through the UI to get to the buried drafts folder, scrolling down to the bottom. Not ideal. I know it made me less good at eye contact. It also meant that I was working from two devices – my notes on my iPad, and my tweets on my iPhone. A talk that I’d spent more time preparing and been more familiar with, I could have used the tweets as my prompts and just shared them as I progressed through the talk. I did this talk without slides, and adding those transitions in as well would have been way too much!

The final question that I have to ask myself in a debrief of this – will I do it again? Not in that format, but maybe. I tend to prep a talk really well and reuse it, and I don’t think I would want to live tweet a talk more than once. This particular one was full of tweetable soundbites and timely, my talk on mobile is full of stories and I don’t think it would work as well. Maybe the talks I prep for next year will work better. I’ll either get a friend in the audience to help, or use something like Buffer with a better interface for storing a backlog of tweets and sharing one by one.

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