Social media has forced presentations to become an interactive conversation. Presenters who embrace audience participation are connecting their audiences to their ideas in a more meaningful way. Using social media as a connection tool goes beyond just looking at the twitter feed to assess if you were boring or not. There are six ways to utilize social media while planning your presentation that will ensure an authentic connection and relevant conversation occur.
1.) Listen: The first step is to know your audience. Really know them. Listening to social media channels is the perfect way to find out what your audience is like. Where do they hang out (in life and on the web)? What unites them? What incites them? What keeps them up at night? When you know who you are talking to, you’ll come across as a friend to them when you present. It’s easy to persuade a friend. Genuine empathy with them will help you be perceived as sincere. Identify what your audience is currently believing or how they are behaving, and then develop a clear Audience Journey toward the transformation you envision. Next, you need to look at the context of your topic, community, or industry. What’s the story landscape of your competitors? Do you stand out? Is your approach better? Create a matrix for each channel through which your competitors communicate. Is their message clear? Could you tweak yours to contrast more?
2.) Create: Establishing the context above enables you to create your most resonant message. After you develop your narrative arc, yes, create some traditional slides, but don’t stop there. You need to also craft portable visual and word-based social media objects that can be distributed across channels. These might include: repeatable sound bites, viral infographics, slideshare documents or video. The best pick-up happens on social media channels with a well-crafted message. So hone a message and then sharpen it more by testing it with some friends and even test it by dropping soundbites on microblogs to see if they get repeated. Another way to build conversation is to present a partially developed idea and let your audience, through social media objects, migrate and refine it into a brilliant idea that spreads. Shareability is, of course, the essence of social media.
3.) Present: When you’re on the stage, embrace social media in the moment too. Some presenters hold a clicker in one hand and a feedback stream in the other. You can also insert slides at appropriate moments that display an array of live chatter. Or auto-tweet live from the stage by pre-writing tweets that get sent out when you click to advance your slide. Enlist a photographer to keep the Flickr stream full of images before, during and after your talk. Feeding your audience social media objects they can forward around or react to makes them feel like part of the story. During the presentation, hire live-sketchers or visual note-takers to tweet images of what they see while you talk. Don’t let the conversation happen behind your back, deliberately create objects that fuel overt conversations.
4.) Broadcast: Hopefully you already have well-developed channels to spread your message through. The currency of social media is reciprocity. So if you haven’t yet spread the ideas of others, yours might not get much traction. You can have great objects and smart concepts, but if you haven’t built a community on the various channels your idea might not go very far. To broadcast video, you can livestream it or capture and post it as archival on YouTube and Vimeo, and also syndicate on sites like fora.tv. Give permission to the audience to microblog plus invite bloggers and media to cover your presentation. Hire a fun person to host a video crew to capture the audience reaction and post it immediately following your presentation. E-mail your base to look at and expose your idea. There are endless ways to get the ideas from your presentation out there.
5.) Measure: The most important component of assessing effectiveness isn’t necessarily how many people you reached—but did you reach the right ones? Did your messages stick, stay intact and resonate? The integrity of your story can be as important as the population it reaches. Digging through the statistics generated from your talk can be daunting. I heard Katie Paine once say that you need an Abby (from NCIS) to dig into your data to really understand how well you connected to your audience. This step is often overlooked, but it is very valuable.
6.) Adapt: Armed with insights into how the social web treated you and your language, you can make informed decisions on how to modify your message, delivery and visuals so you resonate more deeply in the future. Capture and apply those findings immediately to make an even more meaningful connection with the audience the next time around.
If you look at TED as a media phenomenon, there have been 400 million presentations viewed so far. When a presentation is developed and distributed with an eye to these new strategies it can change the world. (Click image below for full size).