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Twitter – The Presenter’s New Best Bud – Part 7 – Coaching Your Twitter Moderator


My husband has run triathlons for several years, all the while inviting me to join him.  I eventually decided that while I had no desire to run or swim, it might be fun to ride bicycles together.  I always liked riding bikes as a kid and it would give us a way to exercise and spend time together.  While of course I didn’t forget how to ride a bike, the new bicycle I got had way more moving parts than I remembered as a kid.  I made my husband teach me how to deal with all the gears, when to use what and how to factor the bike computer into the equation.  It took me a little bit to get the hang of it, but because I got specific directions, I was able to adjust to my new “fancy” bike.

Using Twitter as a moderator is a little like having to learn about the fancy new bike.   There are a few more moving parts as a moderator that make it a little different than how the moderator already uses Twitter.  Fortunately though, it’s much simpler than learning how to use my new bike!

Written Guidelines


I recommend taking a little time to provide the moderator with some basic guidelines so that he or she has information available to refer to as they prepare for and execute the role.  In my experience, some people get a little nervous adjusting on the fly so the more “known” part they have about the role, the easier it is to stay focused on their role monitoring the Twitter channel.  Here are the things I include in my guidelines:


The hashtag for the event is #___________.

The hashtag for the session is #___________.

Getting started.   The Moderator should:

    • Go to http://tweetchat.com and log in with your Twitter user name and password.
    • Search on the session hashtag #___________.
    • Decrease the refresh speed to the fastest refresh speed (5 seconds last time I looked).
    • Watch the twitter feed throughout the session.

What I as the presenter will be doing

    • I will introduce the session hashtag toward the beginning of the session and post it prominently in the room if at all possible.
    • I will let the audience know that you as the moderator will be monitoring tweets with the session hashtag.  I will encourage the audience to tweet questions or comments about what they’re hearing during the session.
    • I will also encourage anyone who wants to monitor the session hashtag to retweet anything they agree with.  If the audience hears something they like, then they’re sharing valuable information with their followers.  If the audience member has the same question or the same disagreement as another’s tweet, I encourage them to retweet that too.  Those retweets let me as the presenter know that there is more than one person who has the same question or issue so I can be sure to address that topic

What the Moderator needs to do

    • As the moderator, tweet directly from TweetChat.  TweetChat will automatically put in the session hashtag and post the tweet from your Twitter account.  Please type in the conference hashtag too so that the conference organizers and those who couldn’t make the conference get the benefit of the Twitter conversation.
    • If someone has a simple questions that you can answer (What time does this session end?  What did the speaker say her name was?  What was the website that she said the moderator was using to monitor the Twitter stream?) please tweet a reply to help that person out.
    • I will take a Twitter break approximately 15 minutes into the program.  I will turn to you at that time and ask for any feedback from the tweets so far.
    • As you monitor the tweets, look for trends.  If anything is retweeted, particularly questions or disagreements with content, be sure and bring up that topic during the Twitter breaks.
    • Subsequent Twitter breaks will be in approximately 15 minutes intervals.  I will again turn to you to see what questions or feedback there may be.
    • For smaller audiences, expect that discussion and questions will come through traditional verbal exchanges between the attendees and me, even with the Twitter discussion.
    • For audiences new to the concept, expect some experimentation and joking around (“Hey, world, look at me”, ribbing a buddy across in the room, etc.).  That kind of experimentation is fine.  Once I get into the meat of the content, the audience should focus on the material and get involved in the conversation.
    • If things start going off track and the Twitter backchannel is talking about it – for example – the audience can’t hear the speaker, the speaker is talking too quickly, or people are going on too long with the “Hey, world, look at me” chatter, get my  attention and bring the situation up as soon as possible.  I’d rather handle it early so that everyone – audience member, you as the moderator, and me – is able to adjust to the interruption with their dignity intact.
    • For larger audiences, Twitter will be a godsend to look for trends and to hear great questions from the introvert who would never speak up in a big crowd.

I’d love to hear your feedback after using these guidelines! Were they helpful?  What was the hardest thing about moderating the backchannel?  What was the most surprising?  What was the coolest part?  I’d love to hear what you think!  Add comments below.


More tips for you as the presenter!