If Only Twitter Worked (Better)

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In October, I’ll be at Forum CU’s Partnership Symposium — not as a speaker, but as host. My role will be to conduct and facilitate Q&A with the speakers (each speaker gets 40 min. max presentation time, with 20 min. Q&A). Truth be told, I’m more nervous about pulling this off than if I had to do a speech or presentation myself.

Part of the reason for my fear is that facilitating group Q&A with 100+ people is tough. In too many conferences, someone is trying to run around with a microphone. Not only does s/he never get there in time, but — to be blunt, here — some people just can’t seem to get to the point when asking their question (I’m not saying that they ask a question just to hear themselves talk, but…).

Forrester pulls it off nicely at their conferences by having attendees write their questions on 3×5 cards and passing them to analysts who (select and) read the questions from the back of the room. This isn’t a viable option for the Forum Symposium.

So here’s the brilliant idea I came up with. I’d create a twitter ID that attendees could send tweets to during the speaker’s presentation (nearly everyone there will either be familiar with Twitter or sitting next to someone who is).

After I opened with a few questions, we’d project the questions that attendees tweeted onto the screen, and I’d pick the best ones (and I’m sure some attendees won’t be shy about suggesting which ones I choose). We’d not only avoid the awkwardness of someone running around with a mike, but avoid excluding that really great question that could get excluded when Q&A is done the old-fashioned way.

After taking a few minutes to pat myself on the back for coming up with such a great idea, reality set in. Is Twitter reliable enough to pull this off? No. In fact, NFW (and to think that Twitter’s CEO has the gall to talk about monetization — get your product working first, bud, then you can worry about monetization).

Oh well, for me it’s back to the drawing board.

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