Twitter: A Speaker’s Friend or Foe?

image: Johan Larsson

With the Dublin Web Summit being a tech-orientated conference, the audience, armed with iPhones, Androids and netbooks, were ready to document every moment through Twitter.

It was fascinating to sit there with my computer on and watch how fast the words spoken by the speakers were pasted across Twitter.

At one point, a tweeter remarked that the tweets had slowed down – did that mean that was too boring to tweet about or were they so captivating that the audience didn’t want to tweet for fear of missing a single word?

Twitter and and an internet-connected audience represents a new challenge for conference speakers.

Should they aim to be tweetable?

Should they fill their speeches with perfect 140 character sound-bites?

And if so, how far apart should these sound-bites be spaced? As you don’t want your audience to miss one brilliant sound-bite while they’re still tweeting about your last one…

Or should you take a completely different approach?

Instead of pandering to the twitterverse, give your audience an experience that they will tweet about later. Captivate them, enthrall them, enchant them, as Jeff Rosenblum says “We must learn to create presentations that are so compelling that the audience doesn’t feel compelled to look at their phones.”

Grab their attention with a brilliant opening, then keep them focussed on you and your message with examples, stories and insight, and finish with a memorable ending so compelling that the next speaker will have to struggle for their attention.