Attending a workshop in a time zone vastly different from your own can often tax your powers of concentration, especially when you have to participate in an afternoon session after a heavy lunch. Full stomachs and jet lag can lead to diminished attention spans, putting pressure on facilitators and presenters to come up with ways of re-energizing participants.
Someone who certainly knows how to deal with post-lunch fatigue in others, even while combating her own jet lag, is workshop facilitator extraordinaire Simone Staiger-Rivas, who successfully led day one of the CGIAR Strategic Communications Workshop in Penang, Malaysia.
In a lively half-hour lunchtime session, Simone introduced participants to Twitter and Yammer, social media tools that can a have huge impact on the way we communicate our work to colleagues, friends and the world.
Simone excitedly recounted a recent experience with Twitter, a real-time short messaging service that works over the web or mobile phone.
“Last week, I conducted a seminar at CIAT on social media entitled Let’s Really Go Online! The Potential of Social Media for Improving Organizational, Project and Personal Impact,” she said. I was a little disappointed because only 20 people came to this face-to-face meeting.
“However, prior to the meeting, I’d uploaded the presentation onto SlideShare, a Website for sharing presentations, and put the link on my Twitter and Facebook pages, and also on my Skype Status tab. By 3:00 pm that day, just before I gave the presentation at CIAT, 20 people had seen the presentation online, and I’d received about nine comments on Facebook.”
By the following afternoon, more than 180 people had viewed the slide show, and Simone began to get really excited.
“My Twitter contacts, some of whom have a huge number of followers, had ‘re-tweeted’ the link to the presentation, sharing it with all their contacts. And that was the beginning of a snowball effect. Then two days later, almost 300 hundred people had seen the presentation.”
Three days after the CIAT seminar, more than 400 people had viewed Simone’s presentation, with seven bookmarking it as a favourite. As a result of the number of hits her presentation received on SlideShare, the site listed the slideshow under the ‘Technology’ section, giving it even more prominence.
Now, 400 isn’t an enormous number, but when you compare it to the number of people who attended the face-to-face session, it’s huge.
Simone also talked about the usefulness of Yammer, often called Twitter for organizations. Like Twitter, Yammer is a micro-blogging service that allows users to post short messages (140 characters maximum) and follow updates from others. Unlike Twitter, Yammer focuses on work-related networks comprising users with the same organizational email address. Yammer users can update colleagues on events or ask each other questions without clogging e-mail inboxes. Users can also search Yammer to find people working in similar fields and subscribe to RSS feeds on a specific topic.
Participant Mike Listman, CIMMYT, was excited about the possibilities of such social media tools after listening to Simone’s demonstration. “I’d never heard of Yammer until today, but I’ll certainly get my team to explore how we can use it in our work,” he said.
Ellen Wilson, Senior Vice President, Burness Communications, on the other hand, is already a convert. She and her colleagues, who are spread across four different offices, use Yammer regularly to update each other on their respective activities, share cool articles, and answer work-related questions.
“If you are reluctant to use services like Yammer, the messages can also be sent to your email account,” said Ellen.
Such was the enthusiasm for Yammer that the CGIAR communication specialists attending the workshop have decided to establish their own Yammer group.
This not the first time Twitter has been highlighted during a CGIAR event. The ICT-KM Program conducted a training session on the tool during the recent Share Fair held in Rome.
Please visit the Program’s Twitter by clicking here!