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Some thoughts about hosting my first Twitter chat

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Introduction to the ‘Twitter chat’ concept
I am chuffed to be given the opportunity to guest host a #PMChat, a ‘Twitter chat’ session, this week [Friday 26th February] at the appointed time of 12pm EST or 5pm GMT. 

First some basics. Twitter, it is an online social networking service that enables users to send and read short 140 characters’ messages called ‘tweets.’ A hashtag [#] is a keyword or phrase that is included in a tweet that enables easy search and immediate retrieval of related tweets. Hence it is possible, in a ‘Twitter chat,’ for users to join a conversation by simply including a keyword, or search term, such as #PMchat in all relevant tweets. 

Robert Kelly, the creator of #PMchat says “it really is very informal and there are little-to-no rules... just open, real collaboration about topics affecting project management, business, etc.” What’s not to like about that I would argue!  

After 5 years, #PMchat has proven to be an amazing community of project managers and business leaders, that come together on Twitter to discuss best practices on various topics.” 

#PMchat format and advice to hosts
Robert explained to me how #PMchat works “When the Twitter chat starts we introduce you and welcome folks. Then you take it from there by tweeting your questions from your Twitter account. You would start questions at about 12:05-12:07 and then post a new question every 5-7 minutes after that.”

I asked him if he had any tips for a newbie host. Robert suggests “From time to time, you retweet a good comment or respond to someone, to keep the community engaged and recognise individuals. The community kind of takes off with each question you post.”

Some thoughts about my #PMchat chosen topic
My chosen topic is “Project management events - optimising your return on investment,” or #eventroi for short. This is a particular favourite of mine. It builds on recent articles on APM’s ‘The Blog’ entitled Change behaviour if you want create value from events and Make the most of your conference by Elizabeth Harrin.

So why I have chosen #eventroi as a topic? I personally believe that in our busy cash-strapped lives we need to design events that meet the needs of our audience, and if that means moving with the times and embracing new tools and techniques so be it. There is so much that we can learn from others – and a Twitter chat seems like a good opportunity to do this. It also occurs to me that it is a good opportunity to hone some digital skills. See Why project professionals need to be digitally competent?

I list several of my event-related favourite tools and techniques below. However, come Friday I will be in listening mode, mindful of the quote “God gave us two ears and one mouth, so we ought to listen twice as much as we speak”

Before the event
Promo videos, uploaded into your organisation YouTube channel can be particularly effective in attracting delegates – especially where they are eye-catching and hook in your audience. You can optimise videos for search [SEO] by using keywords that ensure your movie gets found. See for example this year’s video for APM Conference - Transforming you, your organisation and our profession.

During the event
Benefits Management SIG have used the Catchbox, a throwable microphone to enhance audience engagement. Why have those awkward moments where some poor soul rushes around the auditorium trying to get a microphone along to row to the would-be questioner who may wait patiently or, perhaps thinking their voice loud enough starting to verbalise, and having to repeat, their question. Instead, energise the audience by throwing the mic to them.

Mindmapping is a great technique for bringing alive presentation themes and topics that speakers expound through their carefully crafted slides. Where a mapper or visual illustrator captures content it can add value there and then - as it is projected on a screen for all to see - as well as creating a library of resources for use after the event. Maps can provide a fully-indexed record of the event. See for example our Benefits Summit Resources article.

After the event
Presentations can be shared via Slideshare. See APM Channel which contains more than 600 presentations. Again, it pays to invest the time to fully index the presentation for good SEO and then embedding the result in an article to provide all-important context and facilitate further sharing.

Taking this to one step further - it is possible to include “Click to Tweet” buttons as the APM Programme Management SIG did for a webinar entitled ‘Arabian Nights – Turning a Project Team around in the Desert’ in August 2013. Interestingly, the performance of this particular presentation has been enhanced as viewers use the innovative ‘camel-share’ button to signpost the presentation to others …

Back to #pmchat
Robert provides the ‘scores on the door’ for a typical #pmchat session. 

“We see 400+ Tweets, reaching over 1 million people from around 25 actively engaged participants for each #PMchat. Another +/- six that drop in and add a 'drive-by' comment. Approximately 77% are male and the primary language preference is English, with the top 5 countries engaged being US, UK, Australia, Canada, and then India”

Finally, a ‘Call to Action’
If you happen to be free at 5pm GMT on a Friday, why not join in. See upcoming calendar on #PMchat site.

Robert says “We do recognise that the time zone doesn’t work for everyone - schedules shift, and we all get busy. So, if you are unable to make the live, global conversation we provide a weekly recap via Storify. These can be seen here.

APM organises numerous events of various types so why not visit APM Events listing pages, and make a choice that optimises your #eventroi.


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