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The Pros and Cons of Tweeting at Live Events

I recently had the pleasure of attending a TEDx event. Many of my clients, friends and tweeps were interested in the content, so I told them I would tweet live from the event. However, ten minutes into the first talk, I realized I was missing too much of the presentation and gave up on tweeting.

More event organizers are using Twitter to build a sense of excitement and help their content spread. Thanks to all the live tweets, the TEDx conference jumped to the #1 trending topic in Canada the day of the event.

Even though I’m a huge fan of Twitter, I’ve noticed a downside of encouraging live event tweets: you can hinder your attendees’ ability to absorb your content and get the most from your event.

You – and your event’s attendees – may use Twitter with the hopes of building relationships that eventually move beyond the digital realm. If your attendees spend the bulk of their time hunched over their smartphones, they can miss opportunities to meet people and create business opportunities.

“If typing into a smartphone causes you to hunch over and frown, narrow your eyes or furrow your brow as you quickly try to input data into a tiny keyboard, this can look uninviting to people around you,” says Mark Bowden, President, TruthPlane™ Inc. “A universal signal that you’re approachable and friendly is openness in the body, eye contact and the eyebrows lifted slightly when you catch someone’s eyes. This is almost impossible if you’re hunched over a handheld device.”

Below are five tips for using Twitter to spread your event’s content, without worrying that your attendees will miss learning and networking opportunities.

Encourage pre-event connections through Twitter

Create a hashtag for your event and spread the word on Twitter. Host pre-event Twitter chats with your presenters and invite your followers to participate. You can also answer questions, share resources and encourage your followers to visit your event’s landing page.

Ask one of your team members to be your event’s dedicated tweeter

This will ensure that content from your event goes live on Twitter as it happens. It also takes the pressure to tweet off attendees who don’t want to miss a single second of content. Tell attendees that your dedicated tweeter will tweet the best points. If they hear something they like, they can simply retweet it instead of typing it. This gives them more time to focus on what the presenter is saying.

Use Twitter for Q&A during the event

Your dedicated tweeter should monitor your Twitter account and address any questions that may arise during the event. He or she can also pass questions from your attendees along to the presenters during your live Q&A.

Build sound bites into presentations

If you have a crowd of avid tweeters, you should make it easy for them to spread your content. Ask your presenters to prepare “sound bites” that can be easily tweeted.

Share event wrap-up information on Twitter

After the event, you can post links to videos, presentations or additional resources. You can also encourage attendees to ask follow-up questions via Twitter. Just make sure someone continues to monitor your account and can quickly respond to inquiries.

I don’t want to discourage live tweeting at events, as it’s a great way to spread your content. Just try some of the above tips to make live tweeting easier and less distracting for your participants.

What about you? What are your feelings about tweeting at events and during presentations? Feel free to share your comments below.