I did a webinar today with KRM Information Services. We had a really receptive and active audience. KRM heavily promoted the webinar through Twitter and dedicated a hashtag to the event. During the event, they kept the Twitter feed for that hashtag visible in the event console for all attendees. They also dediscated some of their staff to pulling out key learning points from my presentation and summarizing them in the feed.
I did not try to monitor the Twitter feed in real-time while presenting. I find it too distracting and I start losing my train of thought in what I want to say and how long I should spend saying it. But looking over it afterwards is quite interesting. You might want to use your favorite Twitter tool (I use TweetDeck) to review the feed for #engage2010 (Remember, you have to scroll backwards because almost all tools show the most recent posts first).
I can see a number of things:
1) People give immediate indications of whether you are meeting their expectations. One person felt I spent too much time on a topic she already knew, even though it was promoted as a key deliverable of the session. The internet makes linear content delivery difficult. We each expect that we can jump past unwanted information and instantly access the thing we personally want to hear. That’s difficult to accommodate in public webinars.
2) People will use Twitter to indicate technical problems that may be local to their machine. One guy wasn’t seeing updates in the feed and someone else didn’t see the presentation slides moving. That information used to be private conversations with the technical moderator!
3) People can easily get confused over where you expect responses to interactive questions. I asked for typed chat responses in the conferencing software and some people put their answers into the Twitter feed. Presenters need to be more explicit about where the audience should type for different uses.
4) Some of the things that seem to resonate and get retweeted really surprise me! As a presenter, remember that EVERYTHING you say is important. What you think of as a “throw-away line” may be revelatory to an audience member.
One last point… If you are interested in Twitter as a “backchannel” for webinars, you can’t get a more comprehensive or authoritative discussion of the subject than Cliff Atkinson’s book “The Backchannel.” It is the current go-to reference on the topic. And an informative and easy read.