Does Twitter Use Increase Attendee Interaction?

Republica 2012 081

Back in pre social media and ubiquitous WiFi days, yours truly was one of the first students in his college classes to bring a laptop to lectures. After struggling for years with various note-taking “solutions” — all of which eventually required digitization — this was an attempt to make note taking a bit less troublesome.

Holy wow did it make a difference. I was able to look up terms using the built-in dictionary, compare notes from previous classes and didn’t have to worry about missing anything, as I could touch type. While I didn’t have ready access to the internet, I did occasionally have instant messaging capabilities with people in the same room, and used it to discuss ideas, poke fun, and generally carry on side conversations related to the course material.

Now it seems my experience over a decade ago has been proven to work for many people. According to Jeff Hurt, “It’s official! Research now shows that when people use Twitter during classes, they are more engaged and learn more.”

Studies like those referenced in Hurt’s blog make us wonder why so many people still ask that cell phones be turned off during presentations, event planners don’t deem IT important enough to spend money on and there are still such a small percentage of live Twitter users during conferences. Yes, it is surely important to pay attention to what’s happening on stage, but the real goal of a great speaker to is to get audience thinking, not just memorizing and analyzing later.

But getting people into the fold isn’t always easy. At our Gangplank office, we have a weekly brownbag featuring a different local industry leader every week. Talks run about 30 minutes, with another 15-20 for questions. To help those who can’t attend in person, Stephanie Liebold of Bold Avenue tweets summaries, retweets audience questions, and acts as an amplifier for great content.

Newbies can and do follow her example, giving the speakers on stage the exposure their content deserves and the interaction the information necessitates instead of next-day blog posts. Those uncomfortable with live tweeting can follow along until they are ready, and can jump into conversations at any time.

Good luck integrating Twitter into your next event. Let us know if you have any questions!