10 Ways to Use Smartphones at Presentations

It used to bug me when I was speaking and I looked out into an audience and saw people on their phones and tablets–until I realized that when I’m the listener I do the very same thing. Now I say if you can’t beat them, join them!

Here are twenty ways you can incorporate smartphone users into your presentation and be the topic of conversation online and off.

Encourage and Reward People for Using Their Smartphones

At Cause Marketing Forum’s annual conference in Chicago this past June I asked people to use their smartphones. To show them I was serious I offered a copy of my book and a $100 gift card to Donorschoose.org to the person that mentioned me the most on their Twitter and Facebook pages.

Give Your Presentation a Hashtag (Or Two)

At CMF I asked people to use the conference hashtag #CMF12 and the hashtag for my presentation #CMLight as I was speaking on The Lighter Side of Cause Marketing. That way they could see and interact with other people that were talking about my speech. My audience didn’t have to remember these hashtags as I included them at the bottom of every slide.

Give Them Suggested Tweets

Between slides I gave my audience clever and funny things to tweet and Facebook about me: “That @JoeWaters is wicked funny… good looking too! #cmf12 #cmlight.” I also encouraged people to rant and rave about my Boston accent and love for the Boston Red Sox.

Give People Your Twitter Handle

This was a great way to answer people’s questions during and after my presentation. I also picked up a lot of new followers!

Talk About Things That People Can Check Out on Their Phones

I always mention my blog and Pinterest boards, which are both optimized for mobile devices. If people aren’t listening to me maybe they’ll find something more useful on something else of mine. At least they are still being engaged by me instead of Angry Birds.

Poll Your Audience Via Text

I’ve seen this a lot at conferences, most recently at Cause Marketing Forum where they used mGive. The speaker asks a question and the audience can text their answers. The best part is you can see the results live and instantaneously on the screen.

Tell People to “Write this down”

Encourage listeners to use their phones and tablets as notepads to jot down those gems in your speech that they need to remember.

Encourage People to Email You for More Information

I like to do this once or twice during a presentation. I pick a juicy topic and ask people to email me for more details. So they won’t forget, I tell them to do it right now. By the way, I’m not giving them a sales pitch. This is something they want and it’s free. “I wrote this post a while back for Mightycause.com on exactly how to do this. I don’t have time to talk about it now, but email me and I’ll send you the post.”

Upload Your Presentation to Slideshare

That way listeners can follow along on their smartphones and review past slides or jump ahead in the presentation. You may be thinking, “Why would I want to give my audience an excuse to tune you out?” There’s a good chance they will anyway. At least they’re looking at your presentation and not updating their Facebook page.

This Last Tip Is Yours

Have you ever engaged smartphone users in a presentation? If so, how? Will you use some of these tips in your next presentation?

It’s funny that when researching this topic I found a lot of advice on getting people to turn off their phones during a speech. One tip was to stand near the offender to shame him into submission. Sorry, but I think that ship has sailed. Smartphones and mobile technology are an inescapable part of our lives and we as speakers need to adapt–or risk being unheard.