How do you maximize the Tweetability of your presentations?

Published on February 17, 2013 by Dr. Randal S. Olson

hashtag impact outreach presentations reporting tweet twitter

2 min READ

Given that conference season is coming up, I've been giving a great deal of thought to the best ways to increase the impact of my presentations. How do I make them memorable? How do I make them available and interesting to the widest audience possible?

I've especially taken notice of the rising popularity of "Twitter reporters" at scientific conferences, who articulately summarize an entire year or more worth of research by the current presenter into one or two hashtagged 140-character tweets, then provide a link to more details for those interested. For example, lately, I've been remotely following the annual AAAS meeting via the Twitter hashtag #aaasmtg. Thanks to the Twitter reporters, I'm able to follow what's going on at the conference and stay up to date with people who share similar research interests, all from the comfort of my own mobile phone.

That's what got me thinking: Twitter reporting is a relatively new thing, and designing your presentations with Twitter reporting in mind is probably even more rare. How can we turn this dark art into a formal process? Here are a few informal recommendations I've run across.

Establish a Twitter hashtag for your conference so the Twitter reporters and followers all have the same hashtag to refer to.

Start your presentation with a disclaimer stating whether and how your presentation can be shared via Twitter and other forms of social media. Doing so not only makes it clear that you are okay with sharing the information in your presentation, but may also motivate someone in the audience to become a Twitter reporter for your presentation. I attended one of Ethan White's recent talks, and his second and third slides provide a great template for a disclaimer.

Make your Twitter and social media handles known to the audience so they can follow you, communicate with you, and most importantly communicate about you.

Make your slides publicly available before the presentation and provide a short link to them (e.g., so people can discuss them on Twitter during and after your presentation. FigShare seems to be a popular option for publicly hosting slides, and they even give you a DOI.

Clearly use slogans in your presentations that effectively summarize the main points. Something concise and catchy like "Studying the effective collective" like in Iain Couzin's recent swarming work.

Do you have any more? Feel free to share and discuss in the comments.