3 Social Engagement Tools to Use As a Conference Presenter
Summer conference season is around the corner. Whether you're presenting for the first time or are an experienced presenter, consider incorporating social engagement tools in your presentation. They're great for participant engagement and encourage backchannel communication.
There are a few ways you can use Twitter during your presentation. First, make sure you share your Twitter handle at the beginning of the session, so people can follow you immediately and then tweet during the session. Also, during your introduction, encourage participants to use the conference hashtag, so that others at the conference or following the conference can also follow along on Twitter. If you're expecting a lot of attendees, you can use a custom hashtag for your session, so that people can use Twitter to connect with others in the room. Ask your participants to use the custom hashtag and the conference hashtag in their tweets. For instance, if I'm presenting at the 2014 International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference on digital citizenship, the custom hashtag is #digcit and the conference hashtag is #iste14. Ideally, you want participants using Twitter not only as a form of backchannel communication in the room but also to spread the news about your resources and ideas, and even share photos of your session with the larger conference and education community. Another benefit to using Twitter is that its mobile version makes it easy for those on phones or tablets to participate.
TodaysMeet is designed to promote backchannel communication with a temporary shelf life. There is no sign-up required for you or your participants. You create a virtual room on TodaysMeet, name it, and choose whether you want the room to be available for one hour or as long as one year. The custom link generated allows audience members to access the room. Anyone can join the conversation. Each comment is limited to 140 characters, which helps participants stay concise but can also be limiting. After the session is over, you can print or save the discussion thread. You can use TodaysMeet to introduce audience members to each other, and allow them to share ideas or respond to questions you pose during the session. I’ve found that most session attendees will not use TodaysMeet unless you prompt them to, so be sure to build in questions and direct audience members to submit their responses. You can also pull the room up on your screen to display the conversation in real time. The key benefit of TodaysMeet is how easy it is to join the conversation. One downside is that there is no mobile app version.
Poll Everywhere is a response system that engages audience members by providing a mechanism for submitting real-time responses from almost any device. You can pose questions, receive aggregated responses, and display the data on your screen in real time (as long as you are connected to the Internet). Poll formats include multiple choice, free response, and even image-based responses. The polls can also be made public or private. Audience members can submit responses via text message, Web link, or even Twitter. After creating your poll, you're provided with a PowerPoint slide that displays real-time results, though it requires some setup with the Poll Everywhere app and, of course, connection to the Internet. What's great about Poll Everywhere is that you and your audience see answers continuously, increasing overall engagement and participation. Incorporate polls to provide a hook for your topic, assess attitudes in the room, or as a formative assessment of audience knowledge.
Remember, as you're dependent on Internet and Wi-fi to incorporate social engagement tools into your presentation, you should always be prepared for plan B. The nice thing is that afterward, you can also view your polls and backchannel conversations to see people’s reactions and where there were points of understanding, confusion, or contention. Use this information to help inform your thinking and future presentations.
What are your favorite tools for social engagement at conferences, and how do you use them? Please share your ideas below!