passing notes and twittering behind your back

I’m in the final two weeks of presenting What’s Your Story: Personal Branding, PR and New Media for Artists — an eight-week class for artists who are just getting started in online promotions and sales — and today I spent some time firming up a few technical details with my next speaker, Len Edgerly, podcaster and videocaster extraordinaire.

We sort of jokingly raised the question of how we would handle the Twitter back-channel, if there was one, during his session — jokingly because this class is only just getting wet in social media, and only a few of them are on Twitter at all, and certainly not, to my knowledge, at the level of saturation that we are (for better or worse).

I think our laughter was somewhat nervous laughter, because we live-Twitter events constantly, and it’s bound to be our turn to be live-Twittered ourselves one day.

In any case, what would I do if I were moderating a panel, or presenting a class (which I do often), and the Twitter channel lit up?

As David Berkowitz wrote the other day, “… At a minimum, a speaker or mod(erator) should monitor the back channel, but keep the focus on those on stage.”

Monitoring the back channel, if it exists, is just as important as taking the emotional temperature of the room — both as a speaker and a moderator — and adjusting accordingly. Watching faces, listening to restless rustles, checking for questions or contributions — and watching what notes people are passing to each other — are all parts of being a good and attentive host.

I know I’ll be monitoring twitter at the concerts and public events coming up on my organization’s calendar, probably using Summize or Tweetscan.

Not just to listen in on what people have to say, but to meet the folks in my community who are using Twitter to communicate and navigate the world. If they are at my event, and Twittering, they are people that I want to know!

I’m interested to see how the use of Twitter evolves at large cultural events, like concerts and festivals. More people are discovering Twitter every day, and events like these lend themselves very well to communicating –both peer-to-peer and management-to-crowd, via cell phone.

I’ve seen people try to introduce Twitter to groups at events, which doesn’t really work. There are people who Twitter, and some of them might be at your event. Watch them. Figure out how to interact best with them — what works for them — while there are still only a few. Their numbers will grow, and when they do, we’ll know how to deal with them.

How do you use Twitter at your own events? How might you, if you did?

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5 responses to “passing notes and twittering behind your back

  1. This is a great post! I’ve made a note to make sure I have your Twitter feed set for notification on my iPhone, so I’ll get a buzz in my pocket whenever you pass a note in class. “Miss Dunn, do you have something you’d like to share with the REST of the class…?” 🙂 . Or else, “Hold on, I’ve got to Twitter Beth….” We’re breaking new ground here, and I’m liking it… Seriously, I think this really is a chance to fool around with Twitter on the speaker-audience dimension and see what we might find out. Maybe we can offer a positive alternative to the Zuckerberg interview Tweetdown at SXSW.

  2. I think that is an EXCELLENT idea. 😀

  3. It is a little like passing notes in class—spoken like the middle school teacher I am, eh? Except the problem these days has been texting in class, even to the point of giving answers in the middle of the exam. I don’t think the 11-to 14 year old demographic I live in the midst of has infiltrated Twitter yet. I hope they never do, frankly. But I wonder about high school level.
    I guess I may be a bit “old-fashioned” in my thinking, but I do feel it is not much different from taking the phone call at the expense of the live person right there in front of you. Maybe it all depends on the circumstances and time and place. Certainly from a business point, you don’t want the sales clerk, wait staff, etc. checking their phone/computer etc. for messages texted or tweeted when you’re right there in front of them trying to get information, help, service, goods.
    On the other hand, when the burden’s on you as the presenter to engage your audience and really give them something they want, guess the shoe–or phone– will be on the other foot. Maybe people will be getting “tweeted” like they used to get booed?
    Since I don’t even have have texting on my current cell phone, you won’t have to worry about me Tuesday night. I won’t be lugging my PC to class. And even if I did, that would be one HUGE note I would be trying to pass and everyone would be able to tell.

  4. Aha – but how would you feel if you went back to Twitter after you presented, and saw a long line of tweets to the effect of “Bernadette is rocking the house with this talk” and “if you’re not in Room 211 watching Bernadette’s talk you are missing out” and things of that nature?

    A lot of live-twitttering is just another way of re-broadcasting an event or a talk, so the fact that people want to do so means they think what you are presenting is of value.

    I imagine that as a middle school teacher you rarely confiscate notes in class that say complimentary things about you (just guessing) but that has been my experience with live-twittering most events.

    If you’ve ever been interviewed by a member of the press, it’s kind of like the feeling you get when you are talking, and talking, and answering their questions, and FINALLY they write something you say down in their little notebook.

    You’re like THANK GOD I finally said something they think is newsworthy.

  5. Very good point, B. But come to think of it, no one is passing notes in class anymore. Guess we’re showing our age to even think of that as an analogy!
    I checked out Len’s utterz and am looking forward to the presentation Tues. I have learned a great deal in a short time thanks to your class including most especially why I should put some things I already knew about to use.

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