The Non-Obvious Insights Blog. Non-Obvious Insights
The Non-Obvious Insights Blog.

Dedicated To Helping Readers
Be More Interesting
Since 2004.

As Featured In:

How to Speak at a Conference Without Getting Skewered on Twitter

I’m headed to NY this morning to speak at an IAB event dedicated to social media and user generated content. It’s first of two events this month put on by large marketing bodies where the entire event is focused on social media (the second is OMMA Social in a few weeks). It’s certainly a sign of the times that the topic has enough attention from top marketers to warrant two full day events in New York within weeks of one another. So with all this focus on social media from "mainstream" marketers, it seems like the perfect time to write about something I’ve been thinking about since being on an ill-fated panel at SXSW earlier this year … how to speak at an event where the feedback channel is instant, unfiltered and sometimes brutal.

Not that I’m any kind of expert about not getting skewered (I’ve had my fair share of negative tweets directed at me), but for any other speakers attending events where there is likely to be an active and vocal "back channel" – here are a few things I’ve picked up about how to avoid getting skewered (or deal with it if it happens):

  1. Get a Twitter account. The only thing worse than getting killed on Twitter while you’re on stage is getting branded as being clueless about it. One of the first ways to avoid that is to get your own Twitter ID. That way at least when people are talking about you, they can search and find you llll
  2. Prep by checking out the event conversation. At most events with a decent amount of social media creators attending, people are tagging their conversations as a meme around the event. On Twitter, a meme is indicated by a keyword that is preceded by a "#" symbol. So for the mesh event in Toronto that I was at last week, the twitter meme keyword was "#mesh08." And the tool that most people were using throughout the day to monitor the stream of Twitter conversations from the event was Twemes.
  3. Focus on the audience reaction. Perhaps the nicest side benefit of the Twitterati is that it should force you to pay more attention to the audience and less to the sound of your own voice. Though hopefully you won’t be in a situation where people are encouraging each other to shed clothing in the audience at your session (an actual string of conversation at SXSW), often you can sense audience displeasure about your panel or session while it is happening. This is BY FAR the most effective way of dealing with the live feedback stream of Twitter … actually responding to feedback as it happens in your session.
  4. Monitor mentions about you. This is an obvious point, but the first thing you need to do is learn what people are saying about you, both before and after your session. Two of the most popular tools for doing that right now are TweetScan or Summize. In both, you can enter a keyword (such as your full name, or your Twitter ID, or your company name) and monitor conversations.
  5. Respond to tweets. Now comes the biggest point, you need to actually be listening to the commentary and responding wherever you can. Nothing will buy you more credibility than actually being part of the conversation happening, especially when it is about you.
  6. 6. Learn for next time. Lastly, repeat your experience and start the process over for each new event. As a result, you’ll get smarter about what sorts of complaints people have during sessions and ironically, you may even become a better presenter as a result.

Good luck at your next event, and if you’re going to be at the IAB event tomorrow – my Twitter ID is @rohitbhargava. Looking forward to reading what you have to say!

9 thoughts on “How to Speak at a Conference Without Getting Skewered on Twitter”

  1. Do you find it beneficial to be getting this sort of feedback in real-time? Has this only been for panels, or have you followed twitters during a solo presentation? I am just curious whether you have found this type of feedback helpful or distracting…

    Reply
  2. Like Shama I wonder how you keep track of your train of thoughts if you follow the Twitter conversation before you speak (do you?) or while co-panelists are speaking.

    Your post inspired me to write about the use of Twitter at conferences… whether the practice will spread to non social media / non-geek conferences

    https://www.movingfrommetowe.com/2008/06/02/how-many-speakers-and-panelists-really-want-to-know…/

    As usual., your perspective was most helpful to me as a speaker – thank you Rohit!

    Reply
  3. Like Shama I wonder how you keep track of your train of thoughts if you follow the Twitter conversation before you speak (do you?) or while co-panelists are speaking.

    Your post inspired me to write about the use of Twitter at conferences… whether the practice will spread to non social media / non-geek conferences

    https://www.movingfrommetowe.com/2008/06/02/how-many-speakers-and-panelists-really-want-to-know…/

    As usual., your perspective was most helpful to me as a speaker – thank you Rohit!

    Reply
  4. Great post. Would you ever considering removing yourself a little from the activity of a panel in order to deal directly with the smaller, but likely more influential subset of Twitterers? Also, your post inspired me to write a post on some of the early warning signs that you may be on the path to Twitter martyrdom.

    https://tinyurl.com/57beye

    Reply
  5. I just found your site. I may be in the wrong place but here is my problem.I speak to small forums about a very special topic and I would like too further this.How do I go about contacting Conferences etc. about speaking engagements. Thanks.

    Reply
  6. Sorry, I just don’t get it. So much for the common courtesy of turning your cell phone off while attending a seminar – let alone when participating on a panel or speaking at one.

    This is tantamount to the “worm” used in televised political leadership debates – only without the benefit of aggregation.

    What next – Twitter stacking? Employ armies of paid online Twitterers to bias the conversation and promote individual speakers views?

    Reply
  7. Could you give me more details about this?

    “Respond to tweets. Now comes the biggest point, you need to actually be listening to the commentary and responding wherever you can. Nothing will buy you more credibility than actually being part of the conversation happening, especially when it is about you.”

    PSP game downloads

    Reply

Leave a Comment

The Non-Obvious Insights Newsletter. Non-Obvious Insights
Layer 97
The Non-Obvious Insights Newsletter
Layer 118

Skip the obvious and anticipate the future with our weekly newsletter. Join over 25,000 subscribers and start receiving the stories (and insights) you’ve been missing.

All Books

#1 WSJ & USAToday Bestselling Author

Rohit is the author of 8 books on trends, the future of business, building a more human brand with storytelling and how to create a more diverse and inclusive world.

Vector Smart Object

Contact

Have a Question or Inquiry?

Just fill out this form, and we’ll get back to you within 24 hours!

About You

What Are You Contacting Us About*:

Your Message