If you're presenting--and you should be presenting, if you're trying to grow your business--social media can help you stand out.
I often speak at conferences and networking events. Along with a compelling presentation and main message, social media is the most powerful tool at my disposal.
Here are seven ways I've found social media can make you a rockstar presenter:
1. Promote your presentation in advance.
It seems obvious, but it's often overlooked. You are already connected to others on social media, so use it as an avenue to let them know where you are going to be speaking and what you are going to be talking about. I try to send personal invitations to key prospects and thought leaders to attend my sessions, helping make those connections even stronger.
2. Mine for new ideas.
By talking with others on social media before an event, I get questions and examples that help me craft my message, and assure me that it is timely to my audience. I also monitor general conference chatter on social media for news and trends.
3. Make content available to support your key points.
Have someone in the audience, or even remotely, ready to post links--a PowerPoint presentation, or sample charts, say--that substantiate what you are talking about, while you're saying it. Instant access to the information you are discussing allows others to quickly disseminate it and reinforce your message.
4. Interact with your live audience.
Social media is a great way to answer questions and clarifying information from your speech. Some conferences scroll a live social media comment feed behind the speaker where you can check to see what the audience is paying attention to. If the conversation is trending away from where you want to focus, you can make a shift to give the audience what it wants. Flexibility makes you a more effective and memorable presenter. The live feed can also give you a chance to have some fun with your audience, especially if comments are humorous or sarcastic.
5. Join the conversation--especially if it's critical.
If you were in a room and others said something untrue about you, you would set them straight. If you ignore what is said about you in social media during a presentation, you allow others to decide and define what you mean. Even if you don't agree with others in your audience, social media gives you the opportunity to participate in the dialogue.
6. Hand out the ultimate leave-behind.
After your presentation, use social media to make your content available. Make sure you post it in multiple places so your audience and fans can access it in the way that works best for them. Also be sure to include the conference name or hashtag (#) to make it easy for others (even those who did not attend your session) to follow people's comments about your presentation.
7. Get instant and unfiltered feedback.
By reading through reactions to your presentation, you can find out what might be confusing, interesting, or just plain boring about it. Use this information to perfect your message and engage your audience next time you present. Also look at the feedback from or about other speakers at the conference to track sessions you could not attend to compare how you stacked up against other presenters.
Bonus tip: Make sure you include your Twitter handle on every slide, or write it somewhere prominently in the presentation room. Don't miss the chance to organically grow your follower-base.
ERIC V. HOLTZCLAW is a serial entrepreneur who has founded multiple startup companies, including one of the first profitable Internet enterprises. His last company appeared on the Inc. 5000 list three years in a row. Eric advises clients on the “whys” of business – why customers buy, why teams work and the all-important “entrepreneurial why”. He is the author of Laddering and his weekly radio show, The 'Better You' Project, shines a spotlight on entrepreneurs' individual business journeys and successes. Learn more about Eric at www.ladderingworks.com or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. @eholtzclaw