A Step By Step Process To Use Text To Screen During Events

Image by dmixo6.

Does technology change today’s audiences?

95% of the attendees at my presentation at Event Solutions Idea Factory said yes. The majority of them felt that when technology is used correctly at a conference or event, it can engage an audience.

And 100% of my audience texted me during my presentation. Yes, 100% of this global audience texted me.

Increasing Audience Engagement With Text2Screen

How did I achieve that?

We were using TuffTxt. I wanted the audience to try it and play with it. Their texts were displayed on the screen right beside me.

I guided the entire audience through a process that showed them all how to do it. Here’s what I did and said at the beginning of my presentation.

  1. Everyone stand up.
  2. Pull out your mobile device.
  3. Turn it on.
  4. Put it on vibrate.
  5. If you can text from your device, stay standing. If not, sit down. (No one sat down.)
  6. Now, send me a text to the following number and code.
  7. Go ahead, I’ll wait for them. Let’s enjoy some music why I wait for your texts.
  8. Oh and by the way, please text unto others as you would have them text unto you.
  9. And please, text something good before you text something bad. Then feel free to let me have it. This presentation is really all about you.
  10. Thank you for using respect as you text.
  11. And for those of you that don’t know how to text, let me know and we’ll get you volunteer personal coach. (Yes, there were a couple people that needed help.)
  12. Look, here come the texts.

It worked. And it worked really well.

For Non-Text2Screen-Display-Believers

Chris Uschan and other non-text2screen-display-believers, this is for you.

(For context: Chris believes and supports having a backchannel during a conference. He just doesn’t support having it displayed on stage by the speaker. Read his views here…which I welcomed and appreciate. He offers some additional support on why to have a backchannel.)

I believe in having an audience text2screen. I believe in displaying that screen at the front of the room by the speaker. I believe in letting the speaker have a floor monitor to watch the texts.

I’ve done it since 2007 at the conferences that I planned with much success. I never had it go south. I never had an audience turn on the speaker. I never had a speaker leave the stage upset.

Of course my speakers agreed to do it. I put it in their contracts and had discussions with them about it. They were prepared. And my speakers were on target. Had they been poor presenters, they may have received some negative texts. It does happen.

I’m also more than willing to have text2screen or a Twitter feed displayed when I speak if the organizers agree.

Why? I trust my audiences to do the right thing. I explain my expected parameters and ask them to use respect. I believe in seeing the glass half full.

And I’m skilled at handling hecklers. That comes from experience.

I also respect others’ opinions. I don’t defend on stage, ever! I declare the session a safe space to agree, disagree, ponder and question. I invite divergent thought.

Doesn’t Displaying Text2Screen Distract?

No, I don’t find displayed texts or tweets distracting. I don’t see it as distracting from my presentation.

I believe in transparency and authenticity. Audiences like realness. And sincerity. And they respect transparency. Audiences also self-police!

I suspect you have been to sports bars with lots of TVs showing different sporting events. I bet you’ve watched two or three games at the same time without being distracted. Or perhaps you’ve played video games that show several screens at once.

I believe it is all about filtering. We know how to filter.

And before you give me that retort that the audience is not listening if they are reading, let me just say they may not have ever been listening. They practiced the art of camouflaged listening. Many of us practice selective listening with our spouses daily. Silence and stillness does not equal attention.

I give the audience the option to watch me, my PPT or the text stream. My presentation is about them anyway, not about me. I don’t try to control my audience. I don’t demand all eyes on me. That doesn’t help anything. I let them choose. And if my presentation is engaging enough, the audience gives me their attention.

Still not convinced? Read more about why to use text2screen or a conference backchannel.

Back To Event Solutions Idea Factory And TuffTxt

We used TuffTxt which allows for moderated audience texting, polling and gaming. No, I didn’t give out my personal phone number.

Did it work? You betcha!

And the first text that came across?

This is ******* awesome!

And it looked just like that. The curse word came across as asterisks. That’s one of the bonuses of TuffTxt. Seriously, it was the first text we received.

Following those individual texts, we did some text polling that showed real time responses. It worked seamlessly.

Remember, my presentation was for the audience anyway! I wanted to have a presentation that engaged them. Not made them sit passively and listen.

In my opinion, it worked. And it worked well. The audience thought so too.

Why do you think people are afraid of using and displaying text2screen programs at conferences and events?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
  1. Renea Anderson says:

    I love this! I am going to try this in a presentation tomorrow. Going to tufftxt website now. Is there a fee?

    1. Jeff Hurt says:

      I hope your presentation went well. TuffTxt is a fee-based program. Hopefully you’ve heard from them by now. Wiffiti is free. Also, PollEverywhere has some free text2screen options.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  2. Quinne says:

    I think we are still fearful that people will be distracted by texting/tweeting and not actually paying attention to the presenter.

    With our typical conference attendee we are also fearful that there are manu out there that aren’t as connected as your audience and we may leave some people out.

    We were just talking yesterday about trying to incorporate audience questions for an interview presentation using a twitter feed, but this is one step better since not everyone is on twitter – but almost everyone knows and can text.

    However, we don’t want to have the questions posted for everyone to see – just the moderator on a private screen. Do you think using this platform for that would work?

    1. Jeff Hurt says:

      Interesting point about fear of people being distracted and leaving some people out. I find it odd that we have a fear that if there is more happening on a stage like a PPT or a stream of texts that suddenly we get frightened that people won’t pay attention. We don’t have the problem with the the three ring circus or amusement parks. In today’s society of screens everywhere, and screens within screens, seems we should have the opposite fear: that if there is not more up front on stage to attract the attention of people, they may not be paying attention.

      Yes, Text2Screen would work with a monitor or private screen for the presenter like you suggested.

  3. Quinne says:

    Thanks Jeff –

    I totally get it and don’t think we should be fearful. It is a matter of convincing others to at least try something different.

    We will check out the tool you suggested for our needs. Thanks!

  4. […] Corrections, A Step by Step Process to Use Text To Screen During Events – Jeff Hurt discusses his experience using text messages during a live […]

  5. Quinne says:

    Looked into this more but way too costly for us for just one session.

    Any free tools out there to give it a try before we invest this much money in a new technology? Besides twitter?

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *