Should you encourage tweeting during your next speech?

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Twitter is a great tool for networking and getting to know top influencers. More and more speakers are providing their own hashtags at the beginning of speeches, and encouraging their audiences to tweet during the speech, but we can see some pretty big drawbacks to this, and we want to know – is tweeting during a speech right for you?

Why you should encourage tweeting

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Q&A becomes easier

If you’re speaking to a particularly large audience, Q&A sessions can be cumbersome and difficult. Attendees have to yell questions that you can’t always hear, and many attendees will be too shy to ask their burning questions. Asking them to tweet questions and then having a stage hand read the questions into a microphone can resolve this.

It increases your online visibility

If your audience all use the twitter hashtag, and quote/praise your performance, then more people will be aware of your skills. This can improve your online network and potentially encourage more people to attend your next talk.

It lets people network with you there and then

Though some people will think to tweet you when they get back home, the majority of people will forget before they make it through the door. Though you’ll be too busy delivering your speech to respond immediately, the first step in networking with more people will already have been made before you’ve left the conference room. 

Great tool for immediate feedback

If you want to know what your audience thought of your speech, looking at what they’ve written on twitter is great. The only drawback is, in 140 characters, people will not provide critique. There may be a few ‘great job!’ or ‘amazing speech!’ tweets, but if you’re looking for constructive criticism, look elsewhere.

Why you shouldn’t encourage tweeting

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Your focus should be on your audience

If your conference is smaller than 30 people, you want to be able to generate individual rapport with the audience. They should want to go home and tell the world about you; but in the room, the focus should be on networking with them, not the rest of twitter. If you’re not going to be able to respond immediately to any questions asked on twitter during your presentation, then it can become a redundant tool.

Your morale can take a hit

There is nothing more disheartening than delivering a knockout speech, and looking up to see a sea of people staring at their phones and tablets.

It’s informal

Though twitter can be used really well by businesses, it is, at its heart, an informal method of communication. If your conference is a very formal affair, twitter may not have the right tone for you.

“You can use twitter” doesn’t mean your audience will use twitter

I have been in a session where tweeting was encouraged during the presentation. Afterwards, I checked the twitter hashtag; the speaker and two others were the only ones who had used it in an audience of over 100. Just because you let people tweet during your sessions doesn’t mean they will, and if you do decide to use a hashtag, realistic expectations are key.

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Ali Coulson
Photo Credits: Pete Souza, Eric Jones via Wikimedia commons, pfig via Compfight cc