Using Twitter to deliver a collaborative keynote

My posting last Thursday explained how I was in Athlone, Ireland to deliver a keynote to the Irish Learning Technology Association’s EdTech10 conference.  As my presentation was to be about social learning, I didn’t want to present in the traditional way, but to try and make the experience as social and collaborative as possible, so I blogged and tweeted about the event and invited others to participate. All in all it worked out very well, and afterwards, Juanita @JFJ24 tweeted:

“will you be blogging your reflections on the experience. Think it would be interesting”

I tweeted back that I would – just like I had blogged my experience using Twitter in a face-to-face workshop – so here is how I planned, prepared for and delivered the collaborative keynote.

Planning the keynote

Just like most keynotes, it was to be delivered using the presentation format, so as I planned my PowerPoint presentation, I needed to consider how to make it  as collaborative as possible.  I decided to make use of Twitter, as I knew there was already a backchannel  tag for the conference #edtech10 – and that meant many of the participants would already be using that.

However, I also needed to bear in mind that the audience would (probably) want to listen to as much of the presentation as possible, so I didn’t want them to feel they were being distracted from it by tweeting too much.  I therefore wanted to build in some short questions that (a) could be answered in one word answers rather than huge long sentences, and (b) give them time to do that, as well as (c) time for me to review the Twitter stream.

But I wanted participants outside the room to be able to join in if they wished too, so I created 6 slides with the questions on them and the type of one-word responses I was looking for, and  I used Timo Elliott’s SAP Web 2.0 tools for PowerPoint to set up the tweets that would be auto-tweeted out when I presented.

This is very simple to do: in the Notes area of each slide, you simply enter the tweet in the following format:

[twitter]the message to be tweeted out[/twitter]

So, for instance, here’s the slide with Question 1 (as it appears in PowerPoint’s editor)

I also added in a few auto-tweets that only those reading the stream would see – aimed at external participants, firstly inviting people to participate, and then asking them to introduce themselves to the ILTA conference.

Although Timo’s PowerPoint tools includes a Feedback slide where you can
aggregate tweets, I decided I would use the normal Twitter search
mechanism to display the real-time tweets in the #edtech stream.

I then set up the Auto-Tweet add in with the details of myTwitter account as well as the hashtag to be used at the end of each tweet.

I tested that the tweets were all working live with a dummy Twitter account (so they didn’t confuse my normal Twitter followers), but, although I have a number of other Twitter accounts I use for activities like  this, I decided to use my normal @c4lpt account to send out the tweets at the event – to try and get the widest possible participation.

Preparing for the keynote

As I was hoping for participation in the event from others outside of the ILTA conference, I needed to advertise the fact that it was taking place, and invite  others to participate and contribute if they wished.  As my presentation wasn’t taking place till 4 pm (BST) I blogged and tweeted about it first thing on the Thursday morning. – Social Learning : help me deliver a collaborative keynote. There were a good number of re-tweets, so I was hopeful for some external participation.

One of the things I thought long and hard about, was whether I should release the presentation in advance.  Although I would have really loved to do this, I was a little worried that people might start to tweet their answers straightaway. This would have been great, but I was concerned it might confuse the flow of the #edtech10 Twitter stream, so in this case I decided to withhold the presentation until later..  (Note: in other events I have used a hashtag I made up myself, to keep all the activity quite separate from a general conference hashtag – and I think this works best when the presentation is in a separate conferecen track).

So I kept the presentation “private” on Slideshare, and hoped I would remember to make it public just before the event.  Well, as you will know if you participated, I did in fact forget to do this!

Just before the presentation began, I tweeted the following message:

Help me create a collaborative keynote. Presentation is at Tweet yr answers when questions appear #edtech10

There were a few early tweets that said they couldn’t access the presentation, so I quickly changed the status of the presentation on Slideshare to “public”.

Delivering the keynote

As I went through the presentation, the auto-tweets went out, and there was a huge amount of participation, and so lots of tweets went into the #edtech stream, which we reviewed from time to time.

Finally, at the end of the presentation, just as I was taking questions, the fire alarm went off.  Fortunately, a few people tweeted the fact which meant that those outside the room understood why the session had been interrupted.  We did however, resume, a short time later and finish off the Q&A part.

After the keynote

I took a look at all the tweets that had come in during the event and answered some of the questions I hadn’t been able to address during the event itself.  I wanted to make sure I tidied things up on Twitter. 

Reviewing the keynote

A number of people have asked me how I managed to co-ordinate so much at one time.  Well, I believe carefully planning and rehearsal is vital  However, I nevertheless found it an exhilerating experience as a presenter – it kept me on my toes – and hope that others enjoyed the event too..

What will I do differently next time?

  • make the presentation available in advance – it’s just one of
    those extra things I won’t need to have to worry about
  • make much more time to review the Twitter stream during the session and answer any questions or comments arising – which means reducing the presentation down quite considerably if I think there will be a lot of participation

But I would just like to take this opportunity of thanking everyone that
contributed to the presentation to make it a valuable exercise in
collaborative learning – and also to demonstrate the power of Twitter
for such events.  There may even have been a few Twitter-sceptics out there
who we converted!.

Finally, here’s the presentation slideset – which includes an embedded YouTube video – that I didn’t get to show in the live presentation itself.

There was obviously quite a lot of activity about the event and the presentation, as I got an email from Slideshare telling me that the presentation slideset was being tweeted more than any other on Slideshare, so it was put on the Slideshare front page.  Again it shows the power of Twitter to spread the word virally.

Want some more information on using Twitter in a presentation?

If you’d like to try this out for yourself, then take a look at my How to use Twitter for Social learning free guide.  On the Incorporating the Twitter backchannel in a presentation you can find out how to do this for a class or presentation.  Other pages of the guide explain how to use Twitter for other aspects of social learning (as demonstrated in the presentation, above).


Here are some write-ups of the keynote by others who participated in the event

6 thoughts on “Using Twitter to deliver a collaborative keynote

  1. M

    Great ideas in your post!
    I used Auto-tweet in my last keynote as well. Throughout my 30 minute talk (on “social media for education”), I auto-tweeted clues to a web 2.0 tool, which the audience had to determine at the end of the keynote. It was more like a side game to get the audience to engage and participate. It worked like a charm, At the end of the keynote, I pulled up the SAP slide with the game hash. All the clues and guesses made to the game # were displayed on the screen and we had an open discussion around the clues and the tool.
    Timo Elliott’s SAP Web 2.0 tools for PowerPoint is “a good thing”!

  2. Jane Hart

    Madhuri, what a great idea! I’m going to try that one myself – a great way to get engagement and participation as you say.

  3. Marian Casey

    Thank you for sharing so much great information – it’s always first rate. I love the Socialnomics video although I was reading another blog post about Session Notes & Links from ASTD (American Society for Training & Development) where they used the “Did you Know” youtube presentation which has the same song.| Synapse3Di
    I’m beginning to think all data can look interesting if accompanied by Fat Boy Slim!

  4. Rubyjeansmith

    I just love this idea! I am going to be doing my very first workshop for teachers on using wikis and other social media in a few weeks time. Considering whether I should pluck up the courage to give this a go myself? Thanks for the great instructions – I probably wouldn’t dare consider trying it without the benefit of someone else’s wisdom! Really enjoying following your blog postings and tweets and appreciate your efforts. Regards Kristy Smith

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