Twitter in 5 to 7 Minutes – A Toastmasters Guide

This week I was called upon to fill in as a speaker at my Toastmasters club. This was an impromptu speech, but it could easily be adapted to the Competent Communicator manual or some of the Advanced Manuals.

Why make this into a speech for Toastmasters?

I think the topic of Twitter has been played out and told so many times and there is so much great stuff out there by people like Shayne Packer with his “Twitter Quick Start Checklist” to the work by Rachel Levy (aka BostonMarketer) and her “Using social media for a job search” article that I’m not sure I could add much more or do the topic justice.

However, I have not seen it in the form of a speech. imageSo, I thought I’d blog my speech about Twitter. First, a little background on me. I’ve been a member of Toastmasters for over 10 years. To all the people that know me and know that I still talk WAY too fast and have a tendency for verbosity --- I know. I’m working on it. Apparently, quite slowly.

The Speech


What is Twitter and Why You Should Care


5-7 minutes

Because I only had a few minutes to Twitter in 5-7 minutes (speech mindmap)prepare my speech I used a Mind Map to assemble and order my thoughts. Apologies to my friend, Michael Deutch of MindJet. I was asked to do this in real-time and only had pen & paper.

Mind Map

I started with Twitter in the middle then tried to think of a few things everyone should know about Twitter. I came up with the following top level items:

  1. What is Twitter
  2. What is Social Media
  3. Getting Started
  4. How much time is required to effectively use Twitter
  5. What is the format of Twitter?
  6. Tools for Better Twittering
  7. People & The Twitterati
  8. How Twitter relates to your personal & business life
  9. What should you do next

Getting Started – Ask a Question to Engage the Audience

The first thing I did after being introduced and taking the stage was ask a few questions. I asked for a show of hands by those imagewho had heard of Twitter. Pretty much everyone had heard of Twitter. Then I asked how many were on Twitter – only two hands were still up. Then I asked how many people are using other Social Media technologies – like Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. Most everyone was already using these This let me know I would not need to explain Social Media, but I would need to explain a little more about Twitter.

The Speech Breakdown (from my Mind Map)

Topic Main Points
What is Twitter
  • Twitter is a Micro-blogging tool.
  • You have 140 characters to get your point across
Getting Started
  • Select a realistic (and relatively short) alias
  • At a minimum add you Bio and a Picture (the picture does not need to be of you)
  • Include a web link – even if it’s to your other social media apps
How much time is required to effectively use Twitter
  • According to Perry Belcher, you just need 10 minutes
  • While most people probably spend more than this – 10 minutes is enough to get and keep conversations going.
What is the format of Twitter?
  • Twitter has timelines
  • I break Twitter into four primary timelines:
    • Public
    • Friends
    • Replies
    • Direct Messages (DM’s)
  • No one can realistically “watch” the public timeline with millions of users online. That’s not the intent.
  • I primarily focus on my @Replies (Replies to me) and DM’s (direct messages to me)
  • Then, time permitting I watch my friends timelines and jump into the conversation when there is something that catches my eye.
Tools for Better Twittering
  • There are lots and lots of tools available to manage your Twitter activities.
  • I use in combination with Tweetdeck, TweetGrid, and TweetBeep as my primary apps.
  • Start with these. You will invariably find new tools that meet your specific needs.
  • Need a few ideas? See Apps
People & The Twitterati
  • There are a few million users on Twitter today.
  • You will likely see a few people bubble to the top of the stack for tweets, content, and all around Twitter rock star status. I call them the Twitterari. I follow them because they pump out great stuff and also to see how they do it – format, content, volume, etc.
  • I follow (among 1593 others):
How Twitter relates to your personal & business life
  • Initially I thought of Twitter as a toy. I signed up in 2007 and there were posts about people standing in line to get a coffee. While most everyone makes posts like this once in a while there is much, much more to Twitter.
  • For me Twitter allows me to Learn, Think, and Grow in ways I would have not thought possible
  • Personal
    • Quick Research questions – for fun or on more serious topics.
    • Tweetups – meet people in your area. They may or may not have like interests – that’s the fun of it
    • Learn more about things you may not have imagined. I’m a curious person by nature and I like to learn new stuff. Sometimes it’s a far off tangent and other times it’s right in my wheelhouse.
  • Business
    • There are companies and people from your industry; that share your interests; and may hold the keys to your next job.
    • There are numerous companies using Twitter today – Dell, Zappos, Comcast to name a few. More are coming in to the Twitterverse every day.
    • An Example of Ten Unique Business Uses from Mashable
What’s Next?
(Call to Action)
  • Try it. Take a few minutes and get started TODAY!
  • Watch for a little while, then jump in and startup or participate in a conversation.
  • Remember - You get out of Twitter what you put into Twitter.
  • Oh, and don’t forget to follow me @jshuey

The Medium is the Message

As was pointed out to me by Bert Decker a few weeks back - the mediums are very different. Obviously, one is spoken and the other is typed. However, the underlying elements and goals are the same --- crisp, clear and concise communications. Maybe you could describe Twitter as “clipped” communications, but I often find myself editing my Tweets to be more concise and meaningful in order to fit within the Twitter defined 140 character limitation.

imageA little self-editing helps me get my message across. Unfortunately. I don’t always have this luxury when speaking. As my friends will undoubtedly tell you.

Even though the mediums are very different I find a lot of parallels between Toastmasters and Twitter.

Historical Reference:

The phrase “The Medium is the Message” was coined by Marshall McLuhan and refers to the idea that the medium is inextricably tied to the message. I think the phrase has been superseded or at least extended by the concepts put forth in the “The Cluetrain Manifesto” where the authors claim the internet has changed the nature of communications

Why make this into a speech into a blog post?

I took the time to convert my speech into a blog post in the hopes that it will help someone. If you need to explain Twitter to someone there are a lot of blog postings out there that define Twitter in almost every derivation of personal and business use imaginable. However, if you need to provide a speech about Twitter there were limited resources available --- until today with this blog post. Feel free to use this blog post as a basis for your speech about Twitter. If you find value here – great – Use it. I hope you blog or tweet about your experience too.

While this blog post is not a plug for Toastmasters I do hope a few readers will take the extra step to find a club in their area and attend at least one meeting. You can find clubs in your area on the Toastmasters web site. Open Invitation - If you are in the Bellevue, WA area you are welcome to join us at the Goldenbell Toastmasters meetings. We meet at 6:30a on Thursdays – details are on our club website. Even as a guest I’m sure you will learn a few things about yourself and your speaking style.

By the way - I’m glad to know I’m not the only one that speaks fast – Loic Le Meur mentioned a TED talk by Evan Williams where he fast talks too. There’s hope for me yet.

Thanks for reading this far. I hope this helps you in some way. If it does please let me know. If it doesn’t I’d like to hear about that too. My contact info is below --- including my Twitter alias.

Talking Points:

  • Have you given a speech about Twitter? Maybe an impromptu “speech” to your friends, family, and co-workers on why you spend time on Twitter?
  • Do think there are similarities between Twitter and Toastmasters? Concise Speech = Concise Tweets?
  • Would you be interested in a Voice to Tweet tool?

clip_image002 About The Author:
I have spent the better part of the last 16 years working in various aspects of the ECM space. I spent time at
Kofax, Microsoft, FileNet, K2, and most recently Captaris (which was acquired by Open Text in Nov 2008). Prior to that I was a Unix VAR running my own company. Follow me on Twitter, check my blog, send email or find me on Facebook or LinkedIn.

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Shayne Packer said…
Thanks Jeff. I've enjoyed your article. And thanks for referring my Twitter Quick Start Checklist to your readers. I have had many people tell me it has helped them.

I like your "Talking Points". Yes I have spoken to several friends about twitter. There are a few voice-to-tweet options., Vlingo app for the iPhone.

Happy tweeting!
Michael Deutch said…
Your post made me laugh! I like mapping by hand & white board too! You're off the hook :)

Great post. I also gave a speech on Twitter, for Mindjet. The team was amazed at what can be done with this new medium. I think most people write it off as a waste of time or can't see any business use at first. It has actually helped me make many new business connections, find leads for our sales team, help customer support, and more...I added a post on the Mindjet blog on Twitter too and added a twitter resource map into this month's Mindjet newsletter (coming out in a couple of weeks).

Btw, I've also been thinking about joining toastmasters. Thanks for the reminder.

Michael Deutch
cynthia said…
VERY nicely done! I'm going to forward your post to a bunch of colleagues I've been trying to Twitter-ize!

Cynthia Lay
PDG District 23
Rachel Levy said…
Wow, sounds like a great speech! Thanks for mentioning me!

-Rachel (@bostonmarketer)
purinda said…
Excellent work and right to the point. I love your talking points and thanks a lot, I’m gonna try it.