Tag Archives: social speech

Speeches and accountability: when a human has to say the absurd

Back in December, NRA spokesperson Wayne LaPierre finally broke the gun lobby’s silence after the Newtown massacre. And David Murray made this crucial point on his blog at Vital Speeches of the Day:

NRA chief reveals another valuable social purpose of speeches: They force leaders to say their position with a straight face. And we get to see what they look like when they say it. And that’s worth a hell of a lot.

That’s a critical point to remember about the power of public speaking. A news release, Facebook update or tweet can say the most absurd things in the world, and the text will look as straightforward and po-faced as if it was an announcement that toast is made out of bread.

But no matter how much time a communications team spends editing and fine-tuning a speech, a human being ultimately has to say these things in real time. (Such as “This is the beginning of a serious conversation. We won’t be taking questions today.”) At that point, we associate those things with a person and a face… and the speaker knows that’s exactly what we’re doing.

And that doesn’t just apply while we’re listening. In the era of online video, there’s a good chance that same human being will be held accountable at some point in the future if what they say turns out to be inaccurate, misleading or – in the cold light of day – absolutely awful.

There are speakers out there who are so delusional or unethical that this makes no difference to their delivery. But I’ve seen a number of speeches, news conferences and interviews where it quickly became obvious that the speaker had no confidence in what they were saying. Instead of just spinning, they were spinning out of control.

Thanks to YouTube and low- or no-cost video editing software, one incident like that can happen over and over again. With Autotune. And a backing track.

With any luck, that may provide a little added incentive for the otherwise-ethical when the temptation arises to defend the indefensible.

Filed under: Social Speech Tagged: news conference, nra, wayne lapierre

Social Speech Podcast, Episode 12: Mitchell Beer

Mitchell Beer has been a leader in conference communcations for more than a quarter of a century. His firm, The Conference Publishers, reports and repackages conference content – keeping it useful and relevant long after the closing gavel.

How does that change in the social media era? In this episode, Mitchell tells me how conference reporting is evolving to take advantage of everything from YouTube to Twitter. And along the way, we gain some insights into how speakers and speechwriters can help their messages find a prominent place in those reports… and in the ideas participants take home with them.

You, in the back. Stop looking at me and start tweeting.

Jeff Hurt reports on a study that suggests tweeting during a class isn’t distracting – it actually increases engagement:

Education Professor Christine Greenhow, Michigan State University, conducted a study on Twitter as a new form of literacy. Her results showed that adults who tweet during a class and as part of the instruction:

  • are more engaged with the course content
  • are more engaged with the instructor
  • are more engaged with other students
  • and have higher grades than the other students.

via Now Proven! Using Twitter At Conferences Increases Attendee Engagement.

So the next time you look up from your speaking notes into a sea of heads bent over laptops, tablets and mobile devices, don’t despair – as long as they’re tweeting and not, say, checking their email, your audience may be more engaged with you than ever.

Filed under: Social Speech, Speaking Tagged: backchannel, twitter

For everyone who wants Obama to be more animated…

Why Obama Now on YouTube.

Now, this represents a lot of work — not just the raw animation and graphics work, but the tremendous visual imagination driving them.

But it’s a superb example of how you can reach far more people with your speech than the audience alone. Creating a digital artifact — whether it’s an image and text adapted from your key point, a brief clip from your speech with annotations, an infographic, an enhanced slide deck or any of a thousand other possibilities — frees your message to be shared beyond the room.

And if you have one of the world’s leading TV animators in your corner, why, that doesn’t hurt at all.

Filed under: Social Speech Tagged: 2012, lucas gray, obama, whyobamanow

Live-tweeting for the first time… or the fiftieth? Check this list out

5. Research speakers’ Twitter usernames beforehand. Keep them on a piece of paper or notepad for easy reference.

6. Confirm the event hashtag. Find out what the official hashtag for the event is, and make sure you use that watch out for typos. If there’s isn’t one, make a nice short one up check it’s not in use first.

7. Set up an automatically-updating search for your hashtag in your Twitter client. Since you are most likely on a mobile, an app like Hootsuite, Tweetdeck or Seeismic is really useful as they allow for you to save columns for individual searches.

8. Check whether your client allows you to automatically add a hashtag to tweets. It’ll save you some time and aches in your fingers.  I use the Twitter app on my iPhone, which does this when you tweet from the search screen.

via How to live-tweet from an event | eModeration

There’s some great advice here that you could easily turn into a live-tweeter’s checklist. If you’re having a staff member or volunteer live-tweet your next event, you could do a lot worse than point them to this post.

Filed under: Social Speech Tagged: how-to, live-tweeting, twitter

WaPo’s fascinating speech commentary feature

Say What: Paul Ryan on America’s tough issues – The Washington Post

Check this out. The Washington Post took the prepared notes for GOP vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan’s convention speech, and set up a page where you can comment on an individual paragraph, watch that segment of video, and call in the fact-checkers.

What’s missing? It would be much, much better if you could see not just the occasional comment from an approved source, but the whole discussion. (Just how to manage that and make it useful is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish, of course.) That would make this a truly conversational tool, and not just a way to weigh in.

Filed under: Social Speech Tagged: annotation, gop, paul ryan, washington post

Social Speech Podcast, Episode 11: Maddie Grant

Maddie Grant of DC-based SocialFish has done a lot of thinking about connecting online audiences with speeches, panels and presentations. More to the point, she’s done a lot of doing, including convening one of the most ambitious online conference approaches I’ve seen: NTC Online, the digital version of the Nonprofit Technology Conference held every year by NTEN.

In our conversation, she offers some great advice for event organizers, speakers and anyone who wants to use digital tools to help online and offline audiences learn. And after you’ve heard our conversation, check out these links:

Social Speech Podcast, Episode 10: Holly Ross

This episode features Holly Ross from NTEN, the Nonprofit Technology Network. She’s a great speaker in her own right – and every year, NTEN hosts the Nonprofit Technology Conference. It’s a huge gathering (but remarkably relaxed and collegial), and we talk about what it takes to connect that many people online at a conference – and how speakers can make the most of a connected audience.

Some links and resources: