With todays audience often using a smartphone or tablet to take notes during our presentations as well as being likely to be active on a social media platform it is time that speakers and conference organisers tap into that. One of the ways to do this is through the use of the #hashtag.
A hashtag is basically a word or phrase preceded by a hash sign (#), used on social media sites such as Twitter to identify messages on a specific topic. For example if you were looking for information on accountancy then the search term on social media could be #accountancy. Alternatively if you were posting about accountancy then the #accountancy would be added so that your post or tweet can be found on a specific search. Websites such as Hashtagifyme also help to find hashtags that are relevant to your topic.
A hashtag that is specific to your presentation or conference can be used so that people attending your conference can search for information that you have posted or tweeted just for them. The audience also has the opportunity to get involved by also adding the same hashtag to their posts/tweets. TED and TEDx events use this method successfully to “continue the conversation” therefore engaging the audience and a wider community in the event. Many television shows also use the hashtag to engage with a wider community allowing viewers to make comment or ask questions on the topic or the guests on the show.
As a presenter we can make use of hashtags and social media to provide further information to our audience. Instead of paper handouts we can now use platforms such as twitter to link to further resources, insert quotes from the presentation, screen shots of the slides and the list goes on. Our audience now has the ability to make comment or ask questions of us through the same stream using the hashtag. This means that now we have the ability to engage with our audience long after the presentation has been delivered.
How do we do this?
There are never ending ways to do this however I will go through the process of how I personally do this using Twitter which in my opinion is the best platform for posting information related to our presentation. Twitter only allows tweets of up to 140 characters so we need to be concise with our information going out.
- Set up a Twitter account if you haven’t already.
- Decide on the hashtag you are going to use (make sure it is not already used). If the conference is already has a hashtag then I would use that (check with the conference organisers first).
- Work out what information you want to tweet and at what time. I look at the conference schedule and post my first tweet prior to the time I am to start speaking.
- Schedule your tweets at specific times during the presentation. This can be done using scheduling tools such as Hootsuite or Buffer.
- You or the MC advises the audience that further resources can be found by following the hashtag stream.
- After the presentation check on the hashtag stream and answer questions or make further comments.
Over to you
As an MC I have been encouraging organisers to hashtag their conferences and events and is met with mixed feelings and sometimes results. I delivered a presentation on the topic of “Hashtaging Your Talk” at a conference which was also met with mixed feelings however some members of the audience really got into it and saw great potential. For me I am able to get further information out with no paper saving some trees (I really am a greenie underneath). I would love to know your thoughts on this and any ideas to make the process as efficient as possible.
Founder of Impact Presentations