There's an intriguing article in this morning's New York Times about elementary and secondary school educators using Twitter or other "backchannels" in the classroom to increase student involvement and participation. And when you think about it, educators have much the same aim as we presenters: to keep the audience interested and to encourage involvement and engagement with the topic.
Yet most educators are as skeptical about using this tool as are business presenters. Both are concerned that the audience will be more distracted rather than more engaged. And if the truth be told, most presenters are just a bit uncomfortable that the focus may be shifted away from them to interaction over which they feel they have no control.
In fact what those brave enough to try this are finding is that being able to comment and interact virtually encourages more participation and engages audience members who might otherwise be too intimidated to speak out in a group. Clearly this benefits both the presenter, by allowing her to reach more of the audience, and the participants, who experience a richer dialogue. Instead of a distraction, the backchannel conversation supports and enhances the main discussion.
Why not tap into this new way of engaging an audience rather than bemoaning potential downsides?
Here are some ways of incorporating a backchannel during your presentation or training event:
- ask a question and have the audience respond on Twitter, enabling all to see each other's comments
- provide an exercise and have the audience post answers on Twitter, then have smaller groups analyze the responses
- invite the audience to post questions on Twitter and incorporate them into your Q&A section
What other ideas do you have for increasing your audience's engagement by using Twitter?
You might also be interested in:
flickr/Brianfit C.C. 2.0