With the popularity of social media sites and services such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, many presenters and speakers find themselves having to discuss them during their talks. Some are daring enough to hook up to a computer and try to do live demonstration for their audience. And that’s where the fun begins.
Adding any technology to a presentation increases opportunity for unexpected issues — just ask anyone who’s ever used PowerPoint for an important presentation. There’s issues with power, the projector, the lighting, the length of the extension cord, the computer and many others too numerous to list here. Trying to demonstrate social media in front of a live audience adds two more challenges: your connection to the internet and the cooperation of your friends in cyberspace.
The first time I held my Promote Your Business Online class, I had a number of things go wrong. I started with Facebook but didn’t get too far as the location I was connected through was blocking all traffic to and from Facebook. Additionally, the ads on my blog were being blocked when I was talking about advertising networks and making money online.
Fortunately, I had screenshots that I could show, but it threw my presentation off a bit. The next social media site I tried to connect to was Twitter — which luckily was allowed through the firewall. Of course, showing Twitter’s live feed in a professional environment can have its challenges including the comments and photos that others you might be following (or that are following you) are sharing may not be appropriate for your audience. During my demonstration, there was some language I would have preferred to have not displayed on the big screen as well as the nude photos that many spammers like to use to attract followers. So what is one to do? Here are some tips:
- Before you do anything, create a PowerPoint presentation with screen shots of the main screens you want to be demonstrating. This is not only a good back up plan, but it’ll help you plan out and focus your presentation.
- Bring an air-card with you so you can connect via a cellular network. The connection might be slower than even the Wi-Fi at the site, but at least you know you’ll have a connection (and one that’s not blocked).
- Control the environment as best you can. Only show profiles of users that post content appropriate for your audience and make sure your own profile reflects the way you want your audience to see you.
- Warn the audience ahead of time before going live. Explain the type of things that get posted so if something does show up, they are at least prepared for it.
Like anything else with speaking, the more you add to your talk (whether it’s a prop, whiteboard or a live demonstration on the internet) the more chances there are for things to unexpectedly happen. Don’t be discouraged though — most of the time, things go well (and for the other times, a little preparation and quick thinking will get you through it).