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This chapter is from the book

Maximizing the Rewards, Minimizing the Risks

The backchannel introduces the opportunity for reward and risk for both presenters and audiences. Whichever result it creates will depend on how each party engages the changes that are afoot.

Embracing the change

The most important thing hosts, presenters and audiences can do is to fully understand the changes that are impacting traditional presentations. These include many of the issues described in this chapter and the previous chapter:

  • The changing dynamics that the backchannel introduces.
  • The changing expectations of audiences.
  • The external forces (such as Open Space) that are influencing the way traditional events and meetings are conducted.

Coming to a new agreement

As more audiences use Twitter and other tools to create backchannels, and as presenters learn how to engage them, all parties must come to a new agreement.

For example, a simple code of conduct for audiences to use when they tweet during live presentations would go a long ways toward reducing the risk of the backchannel blowups described in this chapter.

By examining the risks and renegotiating the current contract between all the parties involved in a presentation, we can reduce risks and expand our potential rewards.

If you're interested in taking part in negotiating a new agreement, see Web Appendix C at, which includes a draft of a backchannel agreement among hosts, audiences, and presenters. Or join the conversation about the agreement at

Getting practical

Finally, there are the practical things speakers can do to engage the backchannel. The rest of this book focuses on these things you can do to prepare yourself for the new world of presenting that awaits you.

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