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May 20, 201311:11 AMOpen Mic

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How to leverage Twitter to ensure you gain absolutely nothing from the next conference you attend

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For the last several years, I’ve made my living talking to people. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet people in almost every industry, from almost every background, and in every state except for Delaware and Hawaii. (I don’t know what I’ve done to annoy the people who live there, but I’m sorry for whatever I did, so please invite me sometime. I will bring cake.) It’s a fun job if you don’t mind airports, and if you get the sense that the things you’re saying are the kinds of things that your audience is excited to hear.

Which leads me to the point of this article. When I got started in the speaking world, Twitter didn’t exist. Then it did exist, but nobody cared. And then all of a sudden everyone on the planet cared, and they all wanted to twitter all the time, which is doubly impressive considering that the word “twitter” kind of sounds like something dirty.

Anyway, in the last few years I’ve read articles from several other speakers encouraging people to tweet during their presentations. Not beforehand to build up buzz, and not afterward to share salient points with their friends and followers – but during, like right in the middle, like right at the point where it’s sort of hard to listen and compose a thought and type it properly and post it and still listen to whoever you’re theoretically listening to.

In theory, this is really the same as taking notes in class – you listen for a bit, you hear something you like, you make a note of it, and so on. And we’ve all done that. The only truly annoying part of this from the speaker’s point of view is occasionally seeing a bunch of people staring at their phones and wondering if they’re sharing thoughts with the rest of the world or playing Angry Birds. (The answer to that question, more often than not, is Angry Birds.) 

Anyway, I suppose twittering during someone’s presentation isn’t the worst thing in the world.

Unless the presenter has chosen to display those tweets during the presentation. I think this is called a “waterfall” display, which sounds appropriate to me given that waterfalls have the capacity to drown people.

Waterfall displays are common at social media conferences and at least partially explain the reason that social media experts often have nervous tics. Because I don’t know about you, but I think it would be slightly more difficult for you to follow the thread of this article if it were written like this:

@iamjeffhavens About to talk about twittering during presentations. So excited!

@nobledogman You said it, @iamjeffhavens! Excited is right!

@overhydrated Does anyone know where the bathrooms are?

@fuzzykittens What are your thoughts about twittering during presentations? Personally I’m a big fan.

@helpfulsamaritan They’re by the registration table, @overhydrated

@iamjeffhavens Twittering during presentations can lead to a fracturing of your concentration and an inability to fully focus

@overhydrated Thanks so much! Be right back! Let me know what I miss!

@nobledogman Love your handle, @fuzzykittens!

@contrarian I disagree, @fuzzykittens. Gets in the way.

@fuzzykittens. What gets in the way? My handle?

@helpfulsamaritan In case anyone wanted to know, lunch is at 12:30. Turkey sandwiches!

@nobledogman Disagree with your position about twittering, @fuzzykittens. I think?

@contrarian Yes. 

@selfpromoter Follow me at @selfpromoter! Lots of great advice and tools!

@overhydrated I’m back! What did I miss?

@iamjeffhavens Anyone still following the central theme here?

(Continued)

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