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.