How not to use Twitter as a presentation backchannel

What if your presentation was hooked to twitter, and every time you changed slides, all the words on your slide were sent as a tweet?  How cool is that?

Not very, if you ask me.

Don’t get me wrong, when I bumped into this free tool to use with Keynote (shared by Tuaw) that would tweet out your presentation text.

Here are four reasons I wouldn’t recommend it:

You should present more like Steve Jobs.  And Steve’s presentations would make lousy tweets

Steve’s the master of simple, powerful imagery and few words.  How relevant would it be to tweet out one word that had no image?  Strike 1.

Most presentations deserve the moniker “death by bullet.”  Too many words = lousy tweets

Unless you planned the presentation to keep everything under 140 characters, the tweet gets cut off, and the thought is thwarted.  Strike 2.

Presenting is an audio/visual communication format.  Twitter is not

If your presentation can be read and doesn’t need you presenting, you’re wasting your audience’s (and your) time anyway.  Do them a favor – write them a paper and avoid  Strike 3.

The power of Twitter is voice with value

When someone watches your presentation and tweets something out, it’s something they find of value enough to share with their followers who they believe will find it of value.  AND they usually share a complete thought that makes sense unto itself.  Used right, that’ll attract eyeballs.  Use it poorly and you’ll hear a big sucking sound near the unfollow button.

2 thoughts on “How not to use Twitter as a presentation backchannel

  1. Olivia Mitchell

    Hi Roger
    I think it can be a very cool tool if used properly. The tool (and the equivalent tool for PowerPoint) doesn’t tweet the text on your slide, it tweets the text that you put between [twitter] tags in the Notes Pane of your software. So what you do is craft your key points into tweets and then insert them into the appropriate slide. You don’t have to have a tweet to go with every slide. That way you’re providing value to your followers, and to the tweeting people in your audience who can choose to retweet your valuable tweets.


    1. TheVP

      Olivia, appreciate thoughts from a pro like you.

      You’re right ~ and, tackling it as you describe, you could even include a hashtag specific to the event for those who want to track the whole tweet series.

      Thanks for enlightening me!


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