How to design your presentations for social sharing

Thanks to the relentless spread of social media and mobile devices, the art and practice of making presentations at conferences has changed forever. A growing percentage of your audience members are now equipped with laptops, netbooks and mobile devices. Many are live tweeting or reporting on your remarks - in real time. They're looking down at their screens, not at you.

If that's not scary enough, a growing number of conference organizers are displaying the live tweetstream on a screen to the side of the stage. If the crowd turns against you during your presentation, this audience back channel can get ugly - fast.

What's a presenter to do? +Brian Solis presents a creative and savvy solution to this challenge in his new book, The End of Business as Usual:

"I completely redesigned the format of my presentation to trigger the sharing of experiences. I realized that if I could encourage attendees to share my words, I could at once get my message across to those in the room as well as to their online friends and followers. My slides, to this day, are rich with visuals and statements made with fewer than 140 characters—usually 120 to leave room for potential retweets.

"See, at the center of the transformation of the audience is the ability for individuals to capture a moment through text, video, audio, or still images and share them in real time to the hundreds or thousands of individuals in their social and interest graphs. To me, it was the manifestation of the nextwork to take a one-to-many distribution channel and reshape it into a one-to-one-to-many-more syndication network that invited others outside the realm of the event to participate and ultimately connect with me."

Solis recommends that you think about every update and every idea you share online as a "social object." In other words, it is "a form of media that invites interaction in which reach resonates and extends like concentric circles with every instance." Think beyond your own social network to the networks of your followers - your audience's audience. "My job now is to speak to you and through you at the same time. The goal, of course, is to share our words and ideas across social graphs and interest graphs connecting to those in the room and the people to whom they're connected around the world," he explains.

The genie is out of the bottle. The ability to share experiences in real time has become part of the conference ecosystem. Why not use it to your advantage, as Brian has done? Instead of just reaching a few hundred people in the room where you're speaking, you have the potential to influence tens of thousands more beyond the conference hall, sparking conversations that may continue for days and weeks after the event has ended.

Like Seth Godin's "idea virus," we need to intentionally structure our ideas and presentations in such a way that they will be infectious, and will spread from one mind to another, well beyond our immediate social stream.

(Image by +David Armano)
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