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Interactive Presentations: Using Twitter to Break the Fourth Wall

December 18, 2014 / Blog audience, interactive presentations, presentation tips, presentation tools, Twitter

iphone techIn our previous blog, we emphasized the fact that presentations are a two-way street. If you want your message to stick, you need to be able to connect with the people sitting in your audience. Your priority as a presenter is to keep everyone engaged. One way you can do that is by encouraging interaction. You can break the so-called ‘fourth wall’ by posing questions and asking for feedback. Interactive presentations allow you to openly communicate with your audience.

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Obviously, encouraging discussion is a lot easier when you’re addressing a smaller group. However, managing feedback can be a challenge when faced with a much larger crowd. There are plenty of presentation tools you can use for this. Apps like SlideKlowd allow the audience to answer polls and ask questions directly from their mobile devices. Another tool you can consider is something you and majority of your audience are already familiar with. If you don’t want to bother with any other app, Twitter is your best option.

Most interactive presentations will end inside the venue. However, Twitter gives you the ability to reach out to those who aren’t even in the room with you. If you’re presenting at a large conference, trade show, or any industry event, Twitter is a valuable presentation tool for extending the reach of your message.

Here are a few tips on how to use Twitter for interactive presentations:

Decide on a hashtag

To keep your discussion contained in one place, you need to set up a hashtag for your presentation. An effective hashtag needs to be short, specific, and easy to remember. To keep the tweets curated, everyone will have to type the hashtag each time they tweet. Don’t make it hard for them by deciding on a phrase that’s too long or complicated. Most organizers will set up a hashtag for their event. If that’s the case where you’re presenting, you can ask your audience to use that instead.

Public speaking expert Lisa B. Marshall also suggests using a second hashtag. While the first one is specific to your discussion, the second one is something that corresponds to the overall topic you’re covering. A general keyword will allow non-attendees to come across and take part in the Twitter conversation.

Set up a live feed for display

It’s hard to acknowledge tweets in your presentation if not everyone can see it. To make sure you and your audience are on the same page, it’s important to have a live feed displayed. Tools like TweetChat allow you to access a stream of tweets for a specific hashtag. You can have someone else watch the tweets that are coming in, so that you can be notified when an important point or questions comes up.

Moderate the discussion

With the live feed up, it’s easy to reference specific tweets coming from your audience and beyond. While it’s important to keep the backchannel going, constant tweeting can be distracting. While you should encourage discussion, it’s important to determine when to do it throughout your presentation. Set specific moments when the audience can take out their phones to tweet you something. Presentation blogger Kathy Reiffenstein calls them “Twitter breaks.” During this time, you can ask the audience to send you questions or answer a specific poll. Spend some time discussing their tweets before you move on to your next point.

Keep the conversation going

Twitter is also a great way to keep the conversation alive even when your presentation is long over. At the end of your speech, don’t hesitate to ask the audience to follow you or your organization’s official Twitter account. Encourage them to keep sending in their questions and feedback. Just make sure you also do your part. Social media is a valuable space to share your message. Don’t waste the opportunity you garnered by failing to update your Twitter regularly.

Delivering interactive presentations can be a hard task. When you have to address a large audience, it’s hard to encourage every single person to share what’s on their mind. Through Twitter, you can make sure that the audience takes part in your presentation. Keep the communication process open and inclusive with these four tips.


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