TweetWalls Are Bad For Conference Speakers

Dear Silicon Valley Mobile Monday Organizers,

Thank you for setting up the great talk on NFC technologies and lining up interesting speakers.

I dig the fact that you try out new products and like incorporating social media into your events. Very web-savvy of you. Although you don’t declare a hashtag before your events, you graciously acknowledge them at the start of the events. That’s awesome. (Tip: declare a hashtag before your events, like on your blog or Eventbrite registration page.)

But please please please, don’t project two large screens of TweetWalls behind your panelists again. Please.

Sure, some of the tweets to #mobilemonday and #momosv were insightful and thought-provoking. Seeing them enlarged like that probably motivated many more people to tweet too. Cheers to that gentle use of ego gratification. (Tip: some people love seeing their names or products on huge screens.)

But I’m not so sure everyone found the TweetWall as helpful as you might have. (Tip: not everyone likes to see other people’s names or products on huge screens.)

For me, they were visually distracting. Two bright screens makes for tough competition against dimly-lit panelists. Try sitting with the audience next time and to focus on the panelists. It’s not impossible, but it’s a might difficult.

To put it another way: those screens were like animated gifs on a page of text. Do you like animated gifs? Nah, me neither. (Tip: no one likes animated gifs.)

The TweetWall also attracted tweets that were, ah, less-than-related to the topic at hand. I’m glad some members of the audience got a chance to say Hi to their Moms or declare how they like long walks on the beach. Bully for them, really.

But I noticed the members of the audience were starting to pay more attention to the TweetWall than to the panelists. Perhaps you didn’t notice, but I did. Some were more obvious than others, pointing at the screens and taking pictures of their tweets.

The panelists eventually noticed too, when the audience started reacting and laughing at the tweets. I felt bad when one of the panelists asked, “Is anyone still listening?”

That’s kind of bad, don’t you think? You don’t want these great panelists thinking you’re running a comedy act, right? I mean, I guess it’s entirely possible a General Partner at Khosla Ventures, the founder of Vivotech, and directors at Qualcomm (QCOM), Motorola (MMI), NXP (NXPI), and Google (GOOG) were all in on the joke and secretly holding a contest for the funniest, most distracting tweet. I kind of doubt it though.

Again, I love how you’re embracing social media and experimenting with new technologies. That’s cool. But distracting the audience with said new technology is not so cool.

My last tip of the night – and this one comes from a TweetWall competitor, Wall of Tweets:

We suggest you to use our Wall of Tweets in front of the conference room (like in a lobby or some networking space) and not really during the presentation itself. We do support cases where you want to use our Wall of Tweets in the conference room itself but we suggest you to use it during the QnA session or breaks. Even then, our Wall of Tweets in non-intrusive, in-context solution that is situated in background allowing the real starts to shine.

Good advice there, don’t you think?

Thanks for reading. Here’s to another great (and hopefully, TweetWall-less) event in the future!

Author: Mike Lee

An idealistic realist, humanistic technologist & constant student.