Increasingly conference presenters, (and university lecturers and others), are confronted by a sea of laptop lids. Most of these laptops are engaged in productive pursuits, (unless the presenter is not engaging in any way), often utilising what is known as the backchannel mainly via Twitter.
Having been on both sides of the presentation podium I’ve often wondered what participant’s in my sessions are actually doing on their keyboards. As an audience member I have sometimes used Twitter but prefer to use a more structured tool like CoverItLive to attempt to engage with and record my impressions of significant presentations. I must admit to have written one or two slightly disparaging tweets in the past too.
Now that more and more conference organisers are seeking ways to enable participants to take a more active part in conferences I am sure that we are going to see more and more use of these tools. This of course offers new challenges to presenters many of whom are non-professional. It’s useful then to find advice on how to deal with the backchannel least we are party to an experience such as that of Danah Boyd whose experiences provoked considerable discussion as well as a very considered reflective post from Danah herself.
There’s a new story almost every week of a presenter getting roasted on Twitter. The possibility that this might happen to you could be scary. Presenting at conferences is hard enough without the added complication of Twitter.
But it’s not all bad. Conference organizers and presenters are experimenting with using the backchannel to proactively engage audiences using the backchannel. (The backchannel refers to an online conversation taking place at the same time as a live speaker or speakers).
I’ve written an eBook “How to present with Twitter (and other backchannels)” to help you thrive in this new presentation world. In the eBook I take you through the three stages of presenting with Twitter (or any other backchannel) from survival through to engagement. Here’s a summary of the stages: