My top tip for live tweeting – don’t do it

No live tweeting

It all started with an invitation on Twitter to share my top tips for live-tweeting. I had only the one. I can’t see any value in having people tweeting comments and photos from a public event as it happens, unless it really is news, and even then…

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a twitter convert – it’s changed my life almost entirely for the better – but I’m proud of the fact that all 5,300+ tweets I’ve sent over the past couple of years have come from a PC. My mobile phone is too old to tweet, so I couldn’t ‘live tweet’ from an event even if I wanted to. So I can’t, but I won’t.

I admit I haven’t asked others about this but, when I’ve been presenting, the sight of people playing with their phones is off-putting, bordering on insulting. I don’t know whether they’re tweeting and, if so, whether it relates to anything I’m saying. My self-pride prevents me from acknowledging they might be so thoroughly bored that they’re e-mailing their friends to arrange a trip to the pub.

Eye contact is so important if you’re presenting to a live audience which makes the loss of it so unnerving. I don’t particularly like the nodding dog type on the front row, but that’s much preferable to ‘The Voice-like’ grip of live tweeting where your audience might as well be sitting with their backs to you on swivel chairs for all the positive body language they’re communicating.

And if presenters suspect tweeters are even half listening to what they have to say (I don’t believe anyone – apart from a UN interpreter maybe – can really listen to one person while communicating with another) will they start to speak in 140 character sound-bites?

As someone who has also been on the receiving end of a torrent of tweets from different people at the same event, I’m equally against live tweeting as a recipient. If the incoming photos and quotes from the speakers were useful that might justify all the time and effort (of me reading, as well as the twits tweeting) but in my experience they don’t. The different messages are often repeated, re-tweeted and dis-jointed, the photos are next to useless. I certainly don’t feel I’m part of the event or wish I was there!

So what’s the point? Can anyone explain what effective live-tweeting looks like and what it’s meant to achieve?

In the meantime, I’m off to blow the dust off my Buzzword Bingo Kit. Now there’s some really worthwhile low-tech audience participation…

For less grumpy guidance on using Twitter before, during, and after events, try  and

2 thoughts on “My top tip for live tweeting – don’t do it

  1. adrianashton

    hi Chris – like you, I never used to see the point of live tweeting, until I tried it for myself and found that as a participant it greatly enhanced the benefit I got from being at the event:

    as for your phone being too old for tweeting, the 140 character limit on tweets was set by twitter originally being an SMS service that you texted updates to and then had to long onto a PC to view others’!

  2. Pingback: Will my smartphone make me smarter? | Enterprise Essentials

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