One example of how extensively mobile devices have changed long-held conventions of communications is that presenters who once were disturbed by audience members texting on their phones now are worried if they don’t.
Savvy executives are happiest when thumbs are tapping on smartphones during a presentation, because active keypads indicate people are presumably tweeting, updating, commenting and/or blogging about the presenter’s content or style, thereby amplifying the message and bolstering the messenger. Proactive posts from the audience are one indicator that a presenter is maintaining a connection with listeners, but mobile communications can be added to the presentation in other ways, as well, to heighten impact and retention.
Here are five steps that you as a presenter can take to incorporate mobile into your next seminar or other public presentation and benefit from interaction with your audience in ways that can project you far ahead of other presenters:
- Encourage tweets. At the beginning of the presentation, encourage audience members to keep their phones busy and to tweet or otherwise post their reactions to what you have to say. Remind them that your message may be helpful to people beyond those in the room, and you will appreciate whatever the audience can convey or react to, whether positive or negative.
- Rehearse your presentation on Skype. Use your laptop to connect with a few colleagues on their smartphones and rehearse your presentation via Skype. Your rehearsal audience then can provide you with tips on your facial expressions, gestures, voice and overall content to prepare you for your presentation-day appearance when audience members may be relaying your presentation by video to their friends or even to news media.
- Distribute QR-coded graphics. Instead of throwing a series of complex graphics or animations on a PowerPoint screen, upload them to your mobile-optimized website, create a QR code for each image and distribute copies of the QR codes to your audience as they enter the room. At the right times during your presentation, ask audience members to scan the appropriate QR code to see the image or demo on their smartphones, courtesy of your website.
- Use your own Twitter site for Q&A. When the time for your question-and-answer segment arrives, ask audience members to tweet their questions to your Twitter handle and project your page on a screen. Respond verbally to each question in order; and, after the session, reply online to each question to inform interested individuals who did not attend the presentation. This method can elicit questions from otherwise shy or reluctant audience members and can broaden your presentation’s impact.
- Photograph your audience. Before your audience members leave, use your smartphone to take a photo of them that you will distribute through all your social media channels. With appropriate accompanying text, the photo can show a smiling, active crowd responding positively to your presentation and pave the way for even wider attendance at your next presentation.
With these sorts of actions you may quickly discover one of the ironies of mobile: it can bring your audience so much closer to you in so many new ways that, when your presentation is over, they’ll be reluctant to hit the road.