Last week I felt like I climbed Mount Everest, in a super nerdy way. While preparing for an upcoming conference presentation, I figured out how to embed a live Twitter feed into my PowerPoint (yes, PPT. Sorry Keynote users, I’m not at your level).
Instructions to do this used to be easy to find in a Google search, but they relied on the Twitter API. After some major changes this year, the tactic was no longer effective. After some brainstorming, I wondered if I could piggy back off of the tools I’ve regularly used to display a backchannel at events (Twitterfall, Visible Tweets, TweetWally, and TweetBeam are good options for that).
It might be as simple as a hashtag, or you might want to get a little more sophisticated. If you familiarize yourself with the Twitter search operators, you can display a much more sophisticated feed.
One very useful search operator that’s not found in the chart on the left is ‘+’. Using +, you can pull in tweets that only include a certain term. It’s pointless on its own, because that’s how a default search works, but when you combine it with other operators, it becomes powerful. For instance, if you wanted a stream of tweets from me that were about Facebook, you could search for from:lizgross144+facebook. Throw in the ‘AND’ operator and you could search for tweets about the same term from multiple users.
Yup, that’s right. Don’t even think about PowerPoint yet. Choose a website. Your choice will depend on what you want to display and how you want to display it. TweetBeam is visually appealing, but you’re limited at what you can search for (mostly a hashtag, although you can highlight individual users or a list). Note that TweetBeam is only provided free for non-commercial use. Twitterfall provides a lot of options, but you’ll only see each tweet once as it scrolls down and you must be logged in for it to work. Visible Tweets displays tweets one at a time and will accomodate any type of Twitter search. The background color will constantly change, though. TweetWally allows any type of Twitter search but also allows for simpler options. It also includes the option of explanatory text and prominent display of your Twitter account on the right side of the screen. For my purposes, I’d go with Visible Tweets.
Whatever service you choose, get it all set up to display how you’d like and then copy the URL in display mode.
This was my ah-hah moment. Follow the instructions here to download a simple add-in for PowerPoint. On your office computer that the evil IT staff have locked down? (I jest, my husband is one of those folks.) No fear – it shouldn’t even require administrative rights. Sorry Mac users – this only works on a PC.
Click “Insert –> Web Page” and past the URL you copied from the website of your choice. Because you’ve likely chosen a website that automatically refreshes, you can uncheck the “refresh automatically” box. Then, determine how big you want the display to be on your screen. Think about where you’ll be presenting and how big the web display needs to be so that attendees can see the text of the tweets.
This one is important. If you go to all the work of creating this slide deck, throw it on a flash drive, and use an event-provided computer to give your presentation, it probably wont’ work. The add-in is required to both create and present the presentation. Don’t forget this crucial step.
So, that’s it! It’s really quite easy.
I’d love to hear how you put this technique to use—please share in the comments.