Twitter Time

My pal Rochelle was up visiting me. Well, actually, she was attending the A.D. Latornell Conservation Symposium (aka, the Latornell), and staying over at my place to keep from driving back to the city. This meant I got all the benefits of attending the conference by debriefing her before she went upstairs for bed. Gotta love it!

We covered a lot of ground in two nights of intense discussions. The conference was very science based, and Rochelle is more interested in program design and development, as well as presentation delivery and creative design than pure science. That being said, there were some highlights that made her sit up and notice, tweet about and learn from.

Rochelle hob nobbing with conference attendees. Lucky Commander Hadfield!

Rochelle hob nobbing with conference attendees. Lucky Commander Hadfield!

Much of what she shared intrigued me as we bounced from topic to topic. I’ll leave many of them for her, such as “How to deliver a brilliant science based presentation”, or “Story Mapping and its future”. But what I can’t leave alone is our discussion about Twitter!

There were 900 delegates at the three day conference, and if you look at the Twitter feed, you’ll see very few people were talking about it. https://twitter.com/ADLatornell. But the number of tweets is not my concern. It is the notion of tweeting to get messages across to the public, to interested parties, to clients, to whomever. Twitter is a powerful tool in the arsenal of social media that can really, truly make a difference.

What I find most intriguing about Twitter is not its agility or its impact, but rather its enforced brevity. 140 characters. That’s it. If you have something you want to say, share or promote, you have 140 characters with which to do that. And that’s all.

Pause for a moment. Consider something you have recently written. How long was it? If it was a memo, did you ramble around before you got to the point? Did you provide an introduction, a body and a conclusion? Most importantly, was it more than 140 characters?

Ro sat in my armchair and we brainstormed ideas about communications and how her writing has changed since the advent of Twitter. Or rather, since she started using Twitter. Suddenly, she has to consider her own brevity. Twitter demands that you capture the essence of your ideas in a few sentences, but also direct the impact of your message so that readers or followers will sit up and take notice. She’s been able to focus and refine her writing to ensure a punch, a story, and an impact.

I’m working with Natural Resources Canada right now. The language of science and policy in that organization can be long winded and complex. Yet to be successful and make a difference with the readers and listeners, I need to be able to engage new communities within the broader public with those science based projects and campaigns. My own stories and how I share them need to be revisited. There are lessons hidden in those 140 characters that I haven’t found yet! But I’m trying!

(p.s. – this is 520 characters)

My Twitter ID (or, my Blowfish impersonation).

My Twitter ID (or, my Blowfish impersonation).

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6 thoughts on “Twitter Time

  1. Fortunately, I was influenced early in my public service career in a science department by a wonderful ADM who said, apropos writing briefing notes, for him or for more senior people to read, “One page. Give me one page!” and also “Three things. Give me three things!” I learned to distill the important points to three things and to one page (although, later, I did THANK GOD for scalable fonts!!). Even later on, when I had a female ADM, and different “opportunities,” I was glad I had learnt the one-page methodology, because it helped me be even more concise — for those ever-important washroom briefings. Both these learnings stood me in good stead for many years. Something that should be taught, IMHO, is how to condense the ESSENCE of the message! You have to think “what is it important for the person I am communicating with to know?” (OK, so this is ‘way more than 140 characters, LOL)

  2. Ges, Still need to “pare” — post was NOT 520 characters but 520 WORDS! I count 511 words without photo cap & ps. That is 2435 characters (no spaces); 2937 (with spaces).

    (p.s. Above comment is 139 characters!)

  3. I concurr with king wright, which is not out of character for me, if ya know me wellllllllll! I also believe in the need for brevity that sometimes autocorrect makes you so mad you use more characters than are needed….well aren’t I a character!

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