Effective public speaking is a challenge for many people. You must prepare interesting content, overcome stage fright, and deliver a speech that will hold the audience’s attention. As if that weren’t difficult enough, you’re increasingly likely to find yourself looking out at a sea of faces illuminated by the glow of screens. Social media is invading the auditorium, and rather than tuning out while a speech is delivered, audience members are turning on laptops and cell phones to send out text messages, broadcasting to the world their opinions of your presentation.
Rather than be intimidated by this new world of activist audiences, these six tips will help you turn social media to your advantage before, during, and after a speech.
Before you speak
- Take advantage of social media to contact subject experts and measure audience sentiment when researching your topic. Use the Twitter advanced search screen to locate thought leaders and uncover what potential audience members are discussing on a given topic. Focus your search near the place you’ll be speaking around questions people have on your topic. Find subject experts and contact them directly for insider information. Or simply monitor tweets on a topic. This is essentially ‘eavesdropping’ on conversations target audiences are having without them necessarily knowing.
- With over two million different LinkedIn Groups, there’s sure to be one on the specific subject of your talk, which you can visit ahead of time to review current discussions, find influencers, and participate in professional conversations.
- Another useful place to look for online influencers is Guy Kawasaki’s Alltop. This aggregation of blogs covering a topic displays the most relevant blogs and shows the five most recent posts from each. Think of it as a digital magazine rack that allows you to check out specific interests without maintaining a long list of bookmarks.
During a talk
- Use Twitter as a vehicle to extend your ideas to people outside the room, giving them a “virtual stage pass” to the event. Have an assistant monitor Twitter for remarks people make during the talk. You don’t need to wait until a formal Q&A session to respond. Take advantage of the two-way, interactive nature of social media. Simple steps such as including your Twitter handle, blog address, and conference #hashtag on the title slide, as well as writing slide titles and content in ‘tweetable’ chunks, will encourage engagement. One measure of success then becomes how many of these summary statements are posted and reposted online. Re-tweet interesting observations to your own followers after the event.
- Poll Everywhere is an audience response system that allows speakers to gather feedback via text messages, browsers, or tweets, and immediately share real-time, live results. This is especially useful for speakers who have a projector and screen hooked up and can display graphs of the responses onscreen. However, any speaker could view the results on their laptop at the lectern and share the information verbally.
After the event
- Use social media to magnify the impact of your talk beyond the confines of the auditorium. Take the simple, yet often ignored, step of recording the speech and posting it to YouTube as a video, to iTunes as a podcast, and making a transcript available on your company website or blog. For presenters who use PowerPoint, your material can be archived on SlideShare, which is the largest source of shared presentations on the internet. Think of it as a YouTube…for slides! You can tie all these techniques together in a social media home page, such as this archive of my presentations that includes preview videos, session outlines, Twitter feeds, and more.
For more insights from Ian Griffin, check out his blog “Professionally Speaking.”
Keeping your audience's attention during a presentation is harder than ever. Learn all the skills you need to keep everyone engaged with these AMA resources and seminars: