Crowdsourcing Presentation Content with Twitter

By Laura Bergells on
What’s Crowdsourcing? According to Wikipedia, crowdsourcing is outsourcing a task to a large group of people in an open call. For example, when I was asked to present on the topic of social media & reputation management to an audience of college students earlier this month, I turned to the community at Twitter as an exercise in presentation content crowdsourcing.

Using the medium to help create the message, I posed my situation and asked a question:

Within hours, I received a dozen or so intriguing replies. It struck me that many of the replies looked — and read — like fortune cookies. So I felt whimsically inspired to use a prophetic design treatment for some of the Twittered replies. Ergo,


In some cases, I worked the Tweet into the overall landscape of the Twittered prophecy.

Give credit where it’s due. When I showed each of the crowdsource quotations, I gave verbal credit to the contributor, stating their name, city, and occupation. The Tweet itself shows each of their Twitter ” handles=”” or=”” thanks=””>LisaBraithwaite @JGaler @AnitaCochran) . The audience discussed the twittered advice. Each slide served as a backdrop for an interactive discussion.

Why Crowdsource Content?
Frankly, at the time I turned to Twitter for content ideas because it sounded like fun — and because it would be very easy to do. I’m also acutely interested in what professionals who participate in social media circles might have to say on the subject — and how they’d say it. Additionally, I thought that the students in my audience would also be interested in this very relevant perspective and voice, as well.

I also found four other reasons to crowdsource presentation content:

1. Introduce a fresh voice. As a speaker, you express your own point of view and personality. And you’ll use your own pace, pitch, tone, and vernacular. A fresh, new voice can add both visual and auditory interest — while supporting your key points.

2. Introduce fresh ideas. Through crowdsourcing, you may be exposed to new ideas that can enhance the content and tone of your presentation. The Twitter community gave me plenty of content to support my overall thesis — but they also encouraged me to explore a new dynamic that may previously have gone uncovered.

3. Strengthen the audience connection to the content. Presenters often use a pithy quotation from a famous person to help convey a point. But why limit your quotations to famous people? Getting a quote from a respected professional with a unique point of view can be engaging for the audience. Using a quote from a “real” person can make the content more personal.

4. Why not? How hard is it to ask a question to a group of people? The worst that can happen is that no one responds, and you’re out a few seconds of your time! Weigh that against the best that can happen – you gain new insights into your topic that you haven’t realized before. You get smarter. You get to build and strengthen ideas. Your audience benefits from stronger, more personal content. And along the way, you meet interesting people who like to talk about ideas.

What other reasons might you decide to crowdsource a presentation? And what might hold you back from getting ideas from people in the crowd? 🙂

(For another example of crowdsourcing, feel free to respond to this question about college graduation keynote speeches!)