I don't tweet. I have introductory phrases longer than 140 characters. So this new challenge for public speakers such as yours truly made my presenter-blood run cold.
Tweckle (twek'ul) vt. to abuse a speaker only to Twitter followers in the audience while he/she is speaking.
Conference speakers beware: Twecklers are watching.
They're out for blood.
And you may be their next victim.
Once upon a time, conference goers could do little more than passively fork their cheesecake when a snooze-inducing keynote speaker took the podium. No longer. The microblogging service Twitter is changing a staple of academic life from a one-way presentation into a real-time conversation. Flub a talk badly enough and you now risk mobilizing a scrum of digital-spitball-slinging snark-masters. This is from a higher-education conference in Milwaukee:
The Twitter "back channel" can be a powerful tool to quickly knit a gathering of strangers into an online community, a place where attendees at meetings broadcast bits of sessions, share extra information such as links, and arrange social events. But the same technology can also enable a "virtual lynching." That's the phrase one twitster used to describe what happened at last month's HighEdWeb Association conference, an event that has gone down in social-media history as perhaps the most brutal abuse of the back channel yet.
- we need a tshirt, "I survived the keynote disaster of 09"
The setting was a midday keynote speech before some 400 college professionals in Milwaukee. The presenter was David Galper of the now-defunct online music service for college students, Ruckus Network. The Twitter reaction as he spoke included the T-shirt suggestion, and continued:
- it's awesome in the "I don't want to turn away from the accident because I might see a severed head" way
- Too bad they took my utensils away w/ my plate. I could have jammed the butter knife into my temple.
Perfect conditions propelled this Twitter torrent: a speaker who delivered what was apparently a technically flawed and topically dated talk to a crowd of Web experts who expected better. They reacted by flaying him with more than 500 tweets in one hour. The onslaught grew so large that it went viral—live. The conference became one of the most popular topics on Twitter, meaning strangers with no connection to the meeting gaped at Mr. Galper's humiliation when they logged onto their home pages. One consultant who coaches academics on public speaking now uses the disaster as a what-to-avoid case study. [More]
I could just raise my fee.
Or be more interesting.