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5 Extending Your Presentations Through the Backchannel

The term “backchannel” was coined in the field of Linguistics in the 1970’s to describe listeners’ behaviors during verbal communication. It is commonly used these days to describe the behavior or conversation going on in social media while a speaker is making a presentation. In some conferences the majority of the people listening may be actively Tweeting throughout a speech.

Like it or not, managing the backchannel has become a part of presenting, in person or online. I’ve certainly seen conferences overuse backchannel twitter streams and the like to the point where they overwhelm and distract rather than aid. There needs to be a balance and I don’t think making a Twitter stream a competing channel makes sense for anyone. Having said that, I think it can be used wisely as it allows people who can’t attend to share and extends the reach of your presentation far beyond the confounds of the local hotel ballroom.

For at least a year or so many speakers have made liberal use of the Twitter hashtag as a way for attendees and non attendees alike to group, filter and sort all of the conversations happening at a conference or during a webinar. As the backchannel has evolved into the norm, a new set of tools is cropping up that allow presenters to participate in the backchannel conversation even while they are presenting.

For example,Keynote Tweet for Mac and PowerPoint Twitter Tools for the PC are presentation add-ons that allow speakers to embed tweets into their presentations and automatically have those tweets pushed live when the slide is revealed. The tweet content is actually in the presenter notes in the software so it won’t be seen by the audience and may simply contain a retweetable statement related to the slide or point. What this does is make it very easy for the content to be shared and retweeted by those in attendance and publishes the key points for those that are not.

PowerPoint Twitter Tools for the PC is actually a suite of eight free tools including tools that allow participants to do things like vote or take a poll and have the poll results pushed live to the slide on the screen.

Just getting up and presenting is task enough for many a speaker, but hey, this is the world we live in, so get used to managing the backchannel as well as the frontchannel.

5 Another Tiny Facebook Hack

I’m not really that fascinated with Facebook but many of my readers are so here’s a hack that someone noticed I was doing and they asked me how so figured maybe others wanted to know as well.

Each time I write a new blog post it automatically changes my status in Facebook to something like: John New blog post: The Perfect Referral Motivation 3 hours ago. The link is a link back to the last post I wrote. All of my FB friends get to see this status update in one way or another depending on how they monitor things and each post gets some traffic from Facebook.

The key to making this work for me is a bit of duct tape automation. As always, I’m sure there are multiple ways to get this done, but here’s mine.

I do it using Twitter as a go between – I use a WordPress blog and have a plug in called Twitter Tools that publishes a tweet to Twitter with each new blog post with the title and a tinyURL back to the post. (Ooh side bonus, it updates my Twitter account and my Twitter followers get the notice too.) Then I use the Twitter Facebook application to post my tweets to automatically update my status on Facebook and send a status update to all my FB friends.