Conferences and Social Presentations

While at the annual conference of the CIPD, I look quite closely at the presenters themselves while on stage. They put themselves into a position of authority because they’re asked to and because they have some level of credibility in being there. It is of particular interest to me because I want to ensure that when I am delivering a presentation, I’m learning the right things, practicing them, and showing how to do it. In addition, I’m also looking for how to make presentations better.

So let’s assume some things are in the bag. You’ve prepped in advance. You like the shape of your story and you’ve practiced. Your slide deck is there to aid and build on your content. You’ve practices some more in front of others and gained feedback. You’ve chosen your clothes and you’re feeling good about it all. Things are in good shape, and you’ll deliver well.

Yesterday, Mike Collins taught me something I’ve completely dismissed – the social element. People will be tweeting about your talk, and those not there will be following the backchannel to follow the conversation. Before the talk, he was letting people know when he was talking, and he shared his deck through social channels. Here’s what Mike did which was just brilliant. He scheduled tweets to be posted that were in time with and in line with the content of his presentation. He didn’t just deliver his presentation, he was involving himself in the backchannel while delivering a live talk.


Too strong a description? No, it really isn’t. Think about what he’s done there. He’s giving his own context to any tweets about his talk. You know how a lot of people reading from afar get annoyed that soundbites are out of context and the hashtag doesn’t always help? Mike has shown us, quite simply too, how we get around that issue. If people want context, I’ll give it to them.

It takes concerted effort, and it takes careful planning. It also takes practice and a clear idea of where you’re going with the presentation. It doesn’t allow for going off piste, and it doesn’t allow for questions mid presentation. What it does do is allow the backchannel to have a full picture of what’s being presented.

There are some thoughts to consider when doing this:
– It can really only work if you’re prepping the audience to be involved in the backchannel before the talk. They need priming, and you need to be the one doing that.
– There has to be a hashtag which is in use, promoted well and a clear link to the event you’re talking at.
– It could work for keynote style talks, as long as the presenter is willing to invest the time in social tools. If not, they may need to partner with someone who can help them with it and get it right.
– You have to be sure you know where your presentation is going. A clear structure and flow will allow for the tweets to make sense, otherwise it will look very out of sync.

I thought at #ppia I was being clever by making it a social workshop, and trying to make the content interactive before the event. Mike has helped me to see that formal presentations can be made interactive in a different way.

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Sukh Pabial

I'm an occupational psychologist by profession and am passionate about all things learning and development, creating holistic learning solutions and using positive psychology in the workforce.

6 thoughts on “Conferences and Social Presentations”

    1. Twitter itself won’t be able to do scheduled tweets, which is probably their biggest oversight in terms of functionality. Other Twitter clients do the job well enough – Hootsuite or Tweetdeck are two I know of that can do the job. I’m not sure which Mike used himself, ask him though and I’m sure he’ll let you know!

  1. Hi Sukh, first things first thanks for attending my session and secondly….wow. Thanks very much for the positive feedback and I’m so glad it worked the way in which it did as as you quite rightly point out there are things that can go wrong. The fact I was up doing this until about 1am the morning before was well worth the sleep deprivation but as you know when you’re presenting the adrenaline kicks in anyway.

    I can’t take credit for the original idea of tweeting while I’m presenting as this came from a chap called @renepower I saw at a digital marketing conference. However, whereas their tweets were more broadcast tweets I really wanted my tweets to have context and be relevant to the presentation. Working out what stage I’d be at wasn’t that difficult as I’d timed my talk a couple of times and knew because of Hootsuite having a 5 min time between tweets where I’d be at 5 min intervals. I also cheated a bit and sent two tweets at a time and used the @DPGplc twitter account to add some tweets / context as well. I fell short of integrating the tweets to be personal / org opinion but that’s an idea for the future. I think using something like Buffer may mean the 5 min restriction is removed as well.

    As I reflect on the approach I feel like it went well and I’ve taken an idea and developed it a little and I hope others do the same as for me it means presentations and keynotes can be made more social and widely accessible for those not at the event but willing and able to be involved. It certainly helped the conversation flow before, during and after.

    Thanks Sukh for including this in your blog and for the support, hugely appreciated as always 🙂


  2. Sukh, love your post, as always, including the background, reference to Mike’s great work and ideas for future presentations.

    Sadly, I haven’t done this much for my Learning Live Inspire session as time has somehow disappeared…. However I have done it previously for webinars I’ve delivered, I think, to great effect. As you say, I timed my tweets of content and key points to the timing of my content and activities. It wasn’t always spot on, but was fine. I liked using it especially for links to resources, quotes and references as I think this is something we need to improve more in our deliveries so people can see the facts!

    From a technical point of view, I use Tweetdeck to schedule my tweets as you can do it down to the minute 🙂

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