Publications & Products
Volume 1, Issue 19

Presentations in the Social Media Age

Being a great speaker is never easy, writes a communications expert. But now, with audience members likely to have mobile devices in hand and real-time access to numerous social channels, he argues that the challenges have multiplied.

Drew Neisser, a social media consultant, wrote a blog post about this brave new world of presenting earlier this month for Fast Company. In it, he offers advice on how to handle these new pressures.

First, Neisser suggests, don't panic if the audience isn't looking at you. He admits it's disconcerting to look out on an audience and have no one look back. But just because the audience appears "transfixed by their mobile devices doesn't mean they aren't all ears," he writes. Neisser quotes one communications guru who says, "It's far more distracting to see people whispering to each other than it is to see someone tapping on an iPad."

As tempting as it might be to ask your audience to shut down their devices, Neisser says this is a huge mistake. He quotes another speaker who admits that he might get the audience's "undivided attention" after asking them to ditch their smart phones, but that "it would be mixed with their ire at being told how to watch my presentation."

When speaking in today's connected world, Neisser writes that it's important to remember that "you may be speaking to millions that you can't see." Given this, he notes that some of your audience members may want to share your wisdom right now and not when they get back to their office. For this reason, he suggests speakers should share their Twitter handles upfront and mix in "tweetable quotes" during their speeches. In other words, use "a few puns, sound bites and pithy phrases" in your speeches to aid in audience retention.

Finally, Neisser notes that good speakers should welcome this instant feedback and use comments on Facebook and Twitter to tailor their future presentations by making note of what audiences appreciated and didn't.

This article is from the Nov. 14, 2011 issue.

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