Here's one way to make your presentation more interactive: encourage your audience to Twitter away while you speak.

"Presentation trainer" Olivia Mitchell, recently shared 8 things she learned about using twitter as a participation tool. In her blog post, she describes a presentation in which Twitter was used to solicit feedback and questions from the audience.

I think tools like Twitter can be used effectively in a live presentation provided that you have the people, process, and technology to make it work. I would not have said this until I was asked to present for 5 days straight at the Beyond Planning conference, in Manila, Philippines. I had thousands of people in the audience and I wanted to include as many people as possible by allowing them to ask questions during the sessions. The use of microphones or question cards simply was not feasible due to the large audience and the size of the auditorium.

The conference host provided a real-time SMS text system to solicit questions from the audience and display the results on floor monitors for me to consider and address (or not) in my presentation. The screened questions were also broadcast on 30' screens around the auditorium. It was awkward at first but the screeners did a good job and the audience really got into it. It changed the dynamic from a lecture to a conversation. Since pictures are worth so much, here are some photos that tell the story better than these words can...

We displayed an invitation for people to SMS Text us their questions... We display the invitation on the big screen and invite the audience to respond with their questions...
As questions are received, they are screened and organized in real-time to descide what to show to the presenter (me)...Selected questions were displayed on the floor monitor so that I could see them while I was speaking...
We displayed the questions I chose to address to the audience on large overhead screens...This is an example of a question that I received and addressed during the conference...

It took a little getting used to but I thought the process actually worked quite well.

What do you think? Can twitter make presentations more interactive?

Discussion/Comments (3):

Can Twitter make your presentations more interactive?

Interesting concept Eric, with an agreed hashtag for the presentation and someone filtering the questions for you from the or hashtag's rss feed this would be an interesting dynamic in presenting. Also consider extending the presentation with an online web (video) presence and interacting with your live, global, audience through the same method!

Posted at 03/10/2009 13:46:03 by Peter J Simoons

Can Twitter make your presentations more interactive?

I think anything we can do to improve Q/A response from the audience is benefits both the audience and the presenter. SMS/Twitter sounds like a good choice in your situation and with the support system that was provided. Google Moderator ({ Link } ) might be a better choice if much of the audience had laptops (or Google develops a mobile version). The benefit would be that audience can also vote on which questions they feel are most important (instead of you or the screeners). For a class, students could also post and vote on questions before the class meets.

Posted at 03/10/2009 17:56:07 by Bob Johnson

re: Can Twitter make your presentations more interactive?

Excellent suggestion!

Posted at 03/10/2009 21:05:28 by Eric Mack

Discussion for this entry is now closed.