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Interactive Presentations: Using Twitter to Break the Fourth Wall

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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iPhone picture:

Designing PowerPoint Decks for the Smartphone

Millions of Americans are glued to their smartphones. According to data gathered by Statista Dossier, there are currently around 163 million smartphone users in the US. The numbers are also expected to rise to 220 million by 2018. This comes as no surprise, considering that industry giants like Apple and Samsung release innovative new designs almost every year. In fact, Apple just released the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

Luckily, it doesn’t take a lot of work to make sure that your PowerPoint decks are compatible for viewing on smartphones. All you have to do is follow these four basic rules:

1. Big and bold text

sample slide for smartphones 01
Matthew Smith / Note&Point

Even if the iPhone 6 Plus has a screen size of 5.5 inches, that’s still a lot less room than where you’d commonly show a PowerPoint deck.  Make sure that the font type and size that you use is extremely readable. Go for 30 points or higher. Stylized fonts should always be larger than your usual sans serif text. You don’t want the audience to squint just to read what you’re trying to say.

2. High-contrast colors

sample slide for smartphones 02
Idan Gazit / Note&Point

Another way to increase the readability of your PowerPoint designs is through high-contrast colors. Use either a dark background with light-colored text or vice versa. Similarly, avoid using colors that are too bright. Try for a more muted palette with only a few vibrant pops of color every so often.

3. Powerful images over bullet points and paragraphs

sample slide for smartphones 03
Stephen P. Anderson / Note&Point

Don’t overwhelm your target audience with too much text. Visualize your key points with powerful images instead. This will help keep your PowerPoint deck simple and straightforward. Don’t try to discuss too much concepts at one go. Explaining complicated concepts will require more sentences and paragraphs. If you feel like there’s something in your content that needs further explanation, simply link to other resources instead. You can also try to make a flowchart or an infographic using free online tools like Piktochart.

4. Simplicity

sample slide for smartphones 04
Stephen P. Anderson / Note&Point

Despite the need for visuals, it’s also important that you don’t complicate your PowerPoint designs. Remember, you don’t have much space to work with. Always be mindful of white space and maintain balance in your design. You can still add some animations and transitions, but keep them to a minimum. Aim for a seamless viewing experience. Having too many elements will cause your presentation to lag.

The Takeaway

Smartphone users love the flexibility and convenience it offers. From your phone, you have access to a host of information. If you want to settle a silly argument, you can simply ask Siri for the answer. If you want to keep your work on track, there are plenty of apps that help you organize your ideas and to-do-list.

Among the other things you can do on a smartphone is deliver and view a presentation. You can share your PowerPoint deck through SlideShare or Brainshark.

In the boardroom, you won’t have to set-up a laptop and projector. With interactive apps like SlideShark and SlideKlowd, you can share your presentation directly to your audience’s devices.



Smartphone Users in the US 2010-2019.” Statista. Accessed September 24, 2014.

Social Media Lesson: Twitter and the Interactive Presentation

In recent years, the word ‘tweet’ has come to mean more than just the chirping of a small bird.

Since its successful launch in 2006, Twitter has become one of the most popular social media platforms on the Internet today. It recorded 500 million registered users in 2012, and the numbers have only been growing since then. It’s time to consider that a majority of your audience make part of this huge number.

Incorporating elements of social media in your presentation makes it more interactive and relatable, especially to a younger crowd, who may be more active in the social media scene. But for users of all ages, an interactive presentation is an effective presentation.

Twitter gives you the ability to reach out to people who aren’t even in the auditorium with you. Twitter can be a valuable presentation tool if you’re presenting at an industry event (or any other occasion where you expect to have a large audience).

Use a hashtag (or two)

Hashtags are a bit tricky for social media beginners, but it’s the most useful Twitter tool for your presentation. It’ll help create a back channel of discussions. Presentation coach Lisa Marshall suggests the use of two hashtags: one that’s unique and specific to your presentation or the event you’re speaking at, and another that covers the general topic you’re covering.

The first one is moderates all discussions about your presentation into one place, while the second allows non-attendees to see the tweets about your presentations. Just remember that the hashtags you choose shouldn’t be too long or complicated. Flash them in bold letters in your PowerPoint presentation.

It’s also become the norm to have hashtags for events. If that’s the case, ask the audience to use the official hashtag instead of trying to come up with your own. Their tweets can be seen by those watching out for the event at home.

Display a Twitter feed in your PowerPoint presentation

Here’s how you can have a real conversation with your audience: Refer to their tweets at the end of your presentation.

Include a twitter feed in your PowerPoint presentation by following this tutorial by Liz Gross. (It might seem a bit complicated, but the hashtags you specified will make things easier.) You don’t have to go into each and every tweet, but try to address some of the conversations that came out of the points you raised.

And if you’re really interested in expanding the conversation, you can encourage your audience to follow your (or your company’s) Twitter account. Address any other questions or comments there. This will turn your interactive presentation into a full discussion outside the auditorium.



Curtiss, Kristen. “How to Create a Hashtag to Build Engagement at Your Event.” Constant Contact Blogs. 2013. Accessed August 12, 2014.
Hiscott, Rebecca. “The Beginner’s Guide to the Hashtag.” Mashable. Accessed August 12, 2014.


Featured Image: Shawn Campbell via Flickr