Fresh & New(er)

discussion of issues around digital media and museums by Seb Chan

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Twitter and upcoming presentations and workshops

February 24th, 2009 by Seb Chan

As many of you know I’ve got a large number of workshops and presentations coming up.

Next week I’m speaking at the State Library of NSW’s Perceptions and Connections conference then later in the week running two workshops on metrics and giving a presentation at the Transformations in Cultural and Scientific Communication conference in Melbourne. A little later it is Museums and the Web 2009 and then Museums Australia.

Now I can almost be certain that I and a lot of other presenters these days are coming to terms with the #backchannel. Twitter is suddenly taking off in an almost mass culture big way and this year at MW09 you can be sure it is going to be almost ubiquitous.

The question then is, how does a presenter cope with mass Twittering?

Olivia Mitchell has some good ideas – both for presenter and audience. Here’s an excerpt.

1. Ask a friend or colleague, or a volunteer from the audience to monitor the back channel and interrupt you if there are any questions or comments that need to be addressed. Jeffrey Veen calls this person an ombudsman for the audience.

2. If you can’t find someone to take on this role take breaks – say every 10 mins – to check Twitter. Robert Scoble calls this taking a twitter break. You can combine this with asking the audience for “out-loud” questions as well. It’s good practice to stop for questions throughout your presentation – rather than leaving questions till the end.

3. If you’re courageous and know your content backwards, display the back channel on a screen that everyone (including you) can see. This is potentially distracting for you and has the downside in that the visibility it provides can provoke silly tweets from some (eg: “Hi Mom”). But it does mean that you can react immediately to any issues. Spend some time at the beginning of your presentation explaining to your audience how you will respond to the twitter stream and audience members are more likely to use it responsibly.

Tags: 3 Comments

  • LyndaK

    Thanks for this Seb and glad I inspire you sometimes! As a former Twitter skeptic I must say that I spent a fabulous day at a conference yesterday tweeting away with a bunch of other people.

    For the first time as an audience member I felt totally engaged with a conference as I fully participated via both my own and everyone else’s twitters. What tended to happen was when someone made a key point several people would tweet it in their own words. Not only did you got a repeat of the main point, you also got someone else’s interpretation of it, coupled with someone else’s ideas about how it applies to them/their organisation. The structure of Twitter (ie 140 characters max) really challenges you to be succinct and focussed.

    The conference was Enterprise 2.0 and the Twitter feed is here. What was also good was that someone has now gone through the Twitter stream and summarised it for us.

    There was also a side-benefit in that it really built community among participants and was a great ice breaker. I made many new contacts and followers because of my Twitter activity.

    I love the artcile you posted but think the title is a bit misleading. Olivia also talks alot more about the many benefits to the audience of twittering (including increased learning, better focus, making connections and being able to remotely participate) and the whole post is well worth a read. As an example, one of the conference attendees yesterday was twittering to her colleagues in Melbourne as they couldn’t be at the conference – so it is also cost-effective, esp if you can’t afford the time and money to be physically present at an event.

    We plan to set up a Twitter feed at next week’s conference (hash tag #tcsc) – we’ll see how we go. I’m aready using that tag, so if people want to follow me (lyndakelly61) please feel free to do so. I don’t know what it all means or how it works but I just put my trust in the magic of the internet!

  • LyndaK

    Also Helen Monaghan reports that the Irish Museums Association are trying out Twitter at their annual conference this weekend.

  • Seb Chan

    The big barrier to Twitter at conferences tends to be the abysmally woeful wifi access and the increasing problem of conference rooms that are ill-equipped to cater for the need to have laptop power supplied to every seat.

    Whilst the power issue won’t be dealt with until rooms are refurbished, lack of wifi access (ideally free) at conferences is just a huge oversight.

    Twitter is irrelevant if no one has net access!