How to Spread Your Talk

If you have an important idea to spread, you’ll probably want it to spread beyond only the folks sitting in the room. Using social media tools can help give you and your idea further reach. Since it takes hours to prepare for a big presentation, it makes sense to get as much visibility for it as possible.

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I got a sneak peek at a very interesting research study from Dan Zarrella (check out his book) over at HubSpot. He’ll be hosting a webinar about the findings from his paper The Science of Presentations. He analyzed extensive surveys and Twitter feeds to determine how social media tools can make an idea–in this case a presentation–contagious.

The audience surveyed was primarily social media folks so the first statistic was a bit of a surprise for me. Even though people spend a vast amount of time in presentations, thirty-five percent of respondents said they tweet about presentations never or less than once a year. Then, later the research showed that most presentations are tweeted for the audience to share information or novelty insights. In other words, people like to share things they’ve never heard before. So if you tie those two statistics together, it sounds like most presentations aren’t very informative or novel enough to tweet about. Let’s fix that!

There are tons of interesting insights from the study. And if you attend his webinar on Thursday August 19 at 1pm EDT and you’ll get a copy of his new e-book.

Here’s what I particularly enjoyed from the study:

  1. 52% surveyed said they’ve joined a presentation because of a tweet. I’ve personally seen that happen. While delivering a presentation at Web2.0 in NYC about 20 minutes in, there was a nice surge of new attendees. I found out afterward that a Twitterer with a hefty following said my presentation was good so folks bolted from the boring sessions. Make sure your presentation is the one people are flocking toward, not from!
  2. Notify the audience at the beginning of your presentations that you have an automatic PowerPoint-to-Twitter application running like SAP PowerPoint Twitter Tools. Using a tool like this auto-tweets important points as you’re presenting. This allows the audience to focus on your presentation and simply retweet your key points.
  3. People are more likely to Tweet or blog about a presentation if they like the person giving it. The study also pointed out that the excitement and passion of the speaker impacted whether they would share via Twitter.

Caring about Twitter is important. Reviewing your Twitter feed after a presentation is like being a fly on the wall near the water cooler after your talk. People share what they thought was insightful and repugnant. It’s a great feedback mechanism for you as a communicator and also for the quality (or novelty) of your idea.

The end of the e-book has some great points about simplicity that you should print out and post on your wall. Also, Austin Carr over at Fast Company interviewed Dan on insights from Dan’s study and feedback on how simplicity works for Steve Jobs. It’s a nice read.

Book Reviews / Strategy / Technology / Tips


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