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Is Twitter a Presenter’s Nightmare or a Dream Come True?

Sharing your ideas with an audience can be challenging enough. Doing it in the age of Twitter—when everything you say can instantly be broadcast to a potential audience of far greater numbers—can be downright daunting.

But just like PowerPoint, Twitter is a tool that can be used for good or for bad. To use it for good, start by thinking of it as a means of engaging your audience before, during and after your presentation:
Use Twitter beforehand to research your audience and solicit case studies and challenges they face.
Use it during the presentation when you take Twitter breaks, to answer questions and get a feel for the temperature of the audience.
Use Twitter after your talk to follow up on open items and keep the conversation going. Because you can make a record of all of the tweets your audience has made during your talk, this “Twitterstream” is a goldmine of audience feedback, showing you which of your ideas and techniques were a hit, and which ones were a miss that you can then revise for the next time.

You can best manage the change to the audience-speaker dynamic that Twitter has introduced when you embrace Twitter, and guide it to become the dream come true that it has the potential to be.

Cliff Atkinson (@cliffatkinson on Twitter) wrote the bestselling book Beyond Bullet Points (Microsoft Press, 2007). For more on how you can effectively engage audiences who use Twitter, see his latest book The Backchannel: How Audiences are Using Twitter and Social Media and Changing Presentations Forever (New Riders, 2009), and the companion website at

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