Note: This post was updated on 30 October to reflect TodaysMeet introducing Twitter integration.
The advent of the backchannel is a tremendous opportunity for presenters. The backchannel is an online conversation that takes place at the same time as people are talking live. Audience participation didn’t use to scale easily beyond a small group. Now, the backchannel allows every audience member, whatever the size of the group, to be an active participant. However, if you plan to use a backchannel proactively in your presentation, it may be better to use a backchannel tool other than Twitter. This is because:
- Twitter users won’t have to be concerned about overwhelming their followers with a series of presentation-specific tweets.
- Anybody can access and contribute to the backchannel without having to register.
That makes the backchannel more inclusive – no Twitter-divide – and allows the backchannel to become a lot more intimate amongst conference attendees.
“Whereas Twitter provided the conference highlights to a wider audience, TodaysMeet allowed attendees to delve deeper into individual moments and questions.”
The other presentation-friendly backchannel tool I’m aware of is Backnoise (do tell me if you know of others). (You may have heard of Backnoise. It was used as a backchannel at the New Media Atlanta conference. There wasn’t a good fit between the speakers at the conference and the audience and the backchannel descended into snarky chaos.)
Review of TodaysMeet and Backnoise
*Update: Backnoise and Buzzkill
Initially the Buzzkill function on Backnoise could be used by anyone at any time to delete all the conversation content up to that point (and it still says this on the website). I didn’t get the point of this, and certainly thought it would be a disadvantage in using Backnoise as a constructive participative backchannel. Keith McGregor, the developer of Backnoise, has changed the way it works:
“Buzzkill allows a segment of the conversation to fade away. Repeated buzzkills by others fades the text further and further, until it vanishes. Each viewer gets a limited number of times they can buzzkill a conversation. This limits abuse by an individual. Collectively, however, the community of the conversation can fully mute portions”
This is definitely an improvement, although I’m still not sure how I would want to use this functionality in a presentation context. How do you think it could be used?
Which is best?
Now that both TodaysMeet and Backnoise have Twitter integration, TodaysMeet is the slightly better tool because of its fullscreen display.
Note: This is an excerpt from my forthcoming free eBook “How to present with Twitter (and other backchannels)”. If you’d like to know as soon as it’s released sign up here:
I’ll let you know when it’s released, and then when I update it. I won’t send you any other information or use your email in any other way.