So what can we learn from Twitter about presenting? Here are five Twitter best practices that most regular Tweeters follow. By incorporating variations of these best practices into your presentation bag of tricks, you can engage your audience more, be relevant to your listeners and ensure attention and retention!
Twitter Best Practices for PPT Presenters
1. Follow the140 character limit. By limiting what we say, we end up being more thoughtful when we tweet. Apply that same mindset to your PPT presentations. How many times have you heard speakers who spoke for 15 minutes but had 30 or 40 slides? No matter how long you are speaking, don’t ramble on and on with a lot of slides. Try limiting your slides to just 5 (the PPT equivalent to Twitter’s 140 character limit). People are there to hear YOU speak, not watch you jockey through 50 slides.
2. Mark key ideas with #. As Twitter users know, the # marks relevant or key topics. When presenting, it’s a great best practice to call out the important or key ideas in your presentation. Don’t assume your audience will know what they are. Instead of a hash tag, use a phrase like “What’s really important is…” or “This can be critical…” or “We have to take notice of…” Any phrase or word that punctuates a main idea is the verbal equivalent of a Twitter hash tag.
3. Retweet. When we read a great tweet, we want to pass it on and acknowledge it by retweeting. Some of the best presentations and speeches also acknowledge the ideas of others. This can be citing something a prominent person has done, referring to some critical business action or explaining a best practice. Another way to retweet or acknowledge is to use a short quote. The introduction or wrap-up is a great place to quote others; it’s memorable and gets attention. Just make sure you are accurate and always cite the work of someone you are referencing.
4. Use Bitly to condense a long url. Very often when we want to tweet an idea referenced on a long url, we’ll go to bitly and condense it to a smaller, more manageable link. In a presentation, is there a way to cut ideas down to make them more manageable for the listener? Think of all the technical jargon that we might use. Is there a way to shorten it so it makes sense to the average listener? Why would you want to say, “A user can associate their NIC with only one SSID, and does not seem to be receiving an IP address from the DHCP server?” No one will understand you! Shorten your technical jargon to a few words the average listener “gets.” BTW, the above technobabble means, “The user can only connect to one network and even then doesn’t have Web or Storage.”
5. Reply @. Experienced Tweeters know that this is how you engage in conversation. It’s how you reply to someone’s tweet. In a presentation, isn’t that what it’s all about: a conversation? You an insert a reply@ in your presentation by asking a few questions placed throughout your talk: “Are there any questions?” or “Has anyone else had a similar experience?” “Do you need a few more examples?” Anything you can do to engage the audience is a step in the right direction.
In the end, Twitter can teach us a lot of communication best practices, not just for Twitter talk, but for our conversations, public speaking AND presentations.