Virgin peeps in at party. Slowly gets turned-on

by Peter Watts

My first Twitter attempt occurred a year ago. All dressed-up, I entered the Twittersphere to join the party.

One weekend of searchings and followings accessed such a deluge of comedians, politicians, business-people and journalists, all careening in a tweet-out riot that it left me clear of the dance-floor and glued to the wall. It was all one way, over-whelming, and confusing. Flashbacks to nightclub nights in the 90’s. All reminiscently shallow, and what was more, no-one was talking to me! (Sadly, that bit too was reminiscent).

I retreated.

Twelve months later and there on my iPhone the blue birdie still beckoned. Maybe have another go, and this time, be more selective.

An initial 25. A comfortable number. Off starts the conversation again. I limit my followings. Still though, no-one appears to be talking to me.

I make my first few cautious re-tweets to see if that stirs anything. Zilch! Don’t give up. Try posting a few comments. Nope, still zilch. My eyes drift back toward the exit.

I get a message! Someone liked a post! Huge and joyous celebrations. I exist after all!  I have my first new follower who I swiftly follow back, sharing connections. We have similar tastes, many of whom I decide to follow in turn. Brand new connections tweet lines of thought I haven’t played with before. The riot seems to be breaking-up a little. Rather than a writhing mass it now resembles multi-branching conga lines dancing to their own mysterious rules.

One month in and I no longer feel glued to the wall. Inspiring people appear and new conga-lines of ideas open up. New opinions, new topics, new thoughts.

For a presenter, the ability to surprise an audience with novel thinking creates a memorable presentation. In order to surprise others, you must first embrace the chance to be surprised yourself.

It’s early days, and I’m still figuring out the moves, but I now see that the information orgy of Twitter rewards curiosity with new ideas, and new ideas are always worth turning on.

Resources:

For a useful guide to starting out with Twitter, try “The Bare Bones Guide to Twitter” published by Adam Werbach in The Atlantic.

For comfort in those early weeks, this wonderful blog post by Annie Andre. As newbies, we are not alone!

And for a cautionary tale of Twit-Addiction, Larry Carlat’s “Confessions of a Tweeter” from the NY Times

Twitter headlines create compelling presentations

by Peter Watts

In last week’s blog, we reviewed the advice that Carmine Gallo, in his book “The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs” offers in respect of constructing a key message that speaks directly to your audience. This week we’ll look at the second part of his guidance: “Create Twitter-style headlines”.

The whole essence of the internet phenomena “Twitter” is being able to create and deliver a message in 140 characters or less. The resulting sound-bites of information are quick to read, easy to remember, and very easy to transmit from person to person. We even have a new term, the “Twitter-Storm”, describing what happens when a message is so compelling that it surges the internet like an information tsunami.

The power of Twitter is that, as Gallo points out, it prompts us to write and to think concisely. Steve Jobs is a master at the Twitter headline. For example, in the sound bite that accompanied the 2008 MacWorld launch of the MacBook Air, Jobs simply described his new computer as “The world’s thinnest notebook”. Another example, came during the 2001 launch of the Apple iPod when Jobs announced “One thousand songs in your pocket.”

Short, snappy, and to the point, these Twitter headlines are a newspaper editors dream. They are insta-copy, ready phrased and trimmed to perfection for the next edition. This explains why a Steve Jobs headline almost always makes the news.

Yours can too!

Having identified the key message for your presentation, basing it carefully upon the needs and interests of the target audience, your goal is to encapsulate that message down to one short, punchy phrase. The shorter, the better. Use everyday language that paints a clear picture for your audience to visualize. A useful piece of guidance to keep in mind is the old advertising slogan “It does what it says on the tin”. Your twitter headline should tell the audience exactly what your product will do for them.

Such messages, in addition to forming a key part of your verbal delivery, also make excellent additions to all your presentation materials. A strong Twitter headline, such as “The world’s thinnest notebook” can appear on your slides and handouts, re-enforcing  the promise of your presentation.

Next week, in the last of my blogs reviewing “The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs”, we’ll re-discover the story-telling technique that was essential to all our favorite childhood tales, and that is equally essential to our public speaking activities as adults; we will identify the Wicked Step-Mother to our Cinderella, the Cruella de Ville to our Dalmations!

Next week, we consider the essential contextual role played by the character of “The Adversary”.

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