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Twitter – The Presenter’s New Best Bud – Part 1 – The Journey Begins


June 2008 – My First Discovery of the Twitter Challenge

June of 2008 was the first time I heard about the Mark Zuckerberg/Sarah Lacy keynote interview at SXSW of 2008.  What disturbed me most wasn’t that the interview went poorly.  I wasn’t there.  I didn’t have to sit through it.   What disturbed me most was the idea that people were tweeting about the keynote while the keynoters themselves were still on the stage… and those tweets impacted the proceedings.  One twitterer dared another to yell, “Zuck, you suck,” and he did!  This idea terrified me!  People are tweeting while speakers are presenting?  No good can possibly come from this!


So I did what I often do when something scares me.  I ignored it.

May 2009 – Reality Check in a Training Class

Fast forward to May 2009. I’m in a training class and Paul Terlemazian asked, “Would you hire a sales guy who didn’t know how to use email?  Well that’s what it’s going to be like with Twitter some day.”   This question hit me hard because of my early days in technology.

Flashback to 1996 – Using Email

In 1996, I left the Navy and went into the technology field.  Shortly before leaving the Navy, the command I was stationed at got its first ever email addresses – but only for the big bosses – the commanding officer and the executive officer.  Not that they bother to learn how to use email.  They delegated that task to the administrative staff.  But being in the technology field, I very quickly learned the joys of having my very own email address.

About a year after leaving the Navy, I got a call from one of those old bosses.  “Hey, Kelly – you went into the technology sector right?  What can you tell me about this email thing?”  That former boss was retiring from the Navy and pursuing a job as a sales person.  And in 1997, companies expected their sales guys to know how to use email.

So in 2009, when Paul asked, “Would you hire a sales guy who didn’t know how to use email,” I realized, that I was turning into my old boss.  I was resisting an unfamiliar technology.  So that night, I begrudgingly opened my Twitter account… then pretty much did nothing with it for the next 6 months.

November 2009 – Overcoming the Fear

As Thanksgiving 2009 approached, I decided I didn’t want that icky feeling in my stomach any more thinking about people tweeting while presenters are presenting.  So I decided I would study the topic and overcome my fears. I stumbled upon a free e-book about Twitter for presenters by Olivia Mitchell – How to present with Twitter (and other backchannels) and decided sometime over the Thanksgiving holiday, I’d read the e-book.  Finally, on the last day of Thanksgiving break, I read the e-book and it’s associated links.  Finally I saw that Twitter could actually be a speaker’s friend.  Based on Mitchell’s recommendation, I also read Cliff Atkinson’s book The Backchannel. In 2010, I started applying the techniques in the two books as well as learning from other related blog posts.

2010 – The Year Twitter Becomes this Speaker’s Best Bud

Now that I’ve had a year of twittering, both as an audience member and as a speaker, I thought I’d share what I’ve learned.  Over the next few posts, I’ll discuss my experiences in the hopes that you too can learn to make Twitter your new best friend.

More to Come to Make Twitter Your New Best Bud as a Presenter


  1. […] microphone” works, but I prefer using Twitter and taking Twitter breaks to address the questions. (See my series on interacting with your audience using Twitter.) That’s not to say that you shouldn’t leave time in the end to ask questions.  That’s cool […]