Speaking to be shared

About to give a speech or make a presentation? Looking at an audience today, I dare say that there will be at least 5-10% of your audience who are online while you’re speaking, ready to immediately share what you’re saying in social media. In this lies an opportunity.

A speech for a live audience – at a big stage or in a smaller conference room – is obviously an opportunity to build trust, build brand. Trust in the person giving the speech, but also in the company he/she represents. What strikes me is that few speakers seem to realize that it’s not only an opportunity to address the audience in the room, but also the much larger audience online. All it takes is to consider shareability already when planning the speech.

Yesterday I attended a book release – “Content Marketing för alla” (in Swedish) by Pontus Staunstrup och Joakim Arhammar. A very interesting topic and a book I look forward to reading after their presentation, and for once I was truly satisfied as a twitterer: The slides were made for tweeting. Even better, the two presenters were both masters of punchlines – again, made for immediate social posting.

The whole set-up inspired me to take up a path from one of my earlier blogs about the social sphere around an event: In an integrated marketing approach, a physical event or a live presentation is part of the same effort as the social media activation. So why not make sure the two support one another?

For some speakers, punchlines come naturally. This is the dream for us social nerds in the audience, always looking for smart quotes to instantly share. A punch line or a summarizing slide will trigger us to quote, add the speaker’s @handle, the event’s #hashtag, and share the idea in social media just like that. This is effectively ‘earned’ communication for the speaker – his/her message is taken out and shared with a number of people he/she wouldn’t reach through owned channels. It’s immediate, it’s considered rather trustworthy because it was posted by a friend rather than by your company, and it’s in fact your words.

So what would it take to gain some immediate, earned credit?
For the speaker who prepares the presentation, this is what I’d look at:

  • Summary slides suited to be taken using a smartphone camera?
    Traditional recommendations for slides apply: A few short sentences, a clear and descriptive image, a graph, a background which doesn’t compete with the message. Following these recommendations, your slides will work for the twitterer as well. Slides of more emotional character, e.g. a photo which supports the message of the speech but doesn’t really say anything in itself, is not what you’re looking for here.
  • Have you planned a few easily quoted punchlines?
    If punchlines don’t come naturally to you, it’s worth planning a few in advance. Going back to the point about the slides, it could even be worth to write the punchline on a slide, thereby making life easier for social engagers in the audience.
  • Have you planned the pauses?
    This is basics in any presentation recommendation, but being stressed it’s easy to forget. A pause gives the audience a chance to consider what you’re actually saying and embrace your conclusions. From a social sharing point of view, the role of the pauses is to allow a few seconds to finalize the post and press ‘send’.

For the company behind the speech, I’d add one more:

  • Support the speaker with a companion in the audience.
    This should be a social-media savvy person, with three tasks:

    • Post ‘the originals’ of relevant slides in social channels as the speech is progressing. Point being that the audience present at the event is actually very likely to forward your posts. They like quality and lack time during the speech. This is particularly important if the speech is part of an online event, e.g. a webinar. It’s hard for the audience to multi-task and quickly switch between screens, so there is a pretty good chance they’ll retweet your original content.
    • Provide additional information related to the topic of the speech, primarily targeting the audience in the room: “If you’d like to know more about this topic, here is a video.” And towards the end of the presentation: ”You may find this presentation here..”
    • Most importantly: This person should be very active checking what’s being said about the speech, retweeting, liking, answering questions, etc, on behalf of the company. After the speech it’s expected that the speaker checks the online activity to follow-up, but it also benefits the company brand to have someone actively engaging during the speech.

Looking at this list, I conclude that provided you take the aspect of shareability into account already from start, there is really not much difference from how you’re supposed to plan your speech and slides anyway, is there?

Considering the engagement a good presentation can trigger among its audience, its potential to generate earned traffic and trust is a true opportunity. Taking the speech I listened to yesterday as an example, the good content combined with a very shareable packaging both earned a lot of posts on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, and made me write this blog. Thank you, Pontus and Joakim, for the inspiration!

I hope this serves as an inspiration for your next speech. Because having your audience spread your message for you, hopefully with a comment like ‘”This speaker really know what she’s talking about!”, that’s actually pretty nice.


First published on LinkedIn February 17, 2016



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