Keynote Tweet: Participate in the backchannel of your own presentation

Twitter for layered communication

June 23, 2009
Reading Time
2 minutes

Twitter changes everything”… I’m sitting in a conference session by that name right now. That may be a stretch, but it certainly does change many things, including how people participate at events like conferences and speeches.

Increasingly presentations to large audiences are happening in the context of a ‘backchannel’, where attendees are responding in real time to what is being said at the podium. That’s a pretty interesting development, but one that’s a bit off-balance: while the audience can converse with one another and respond to what they’re hearing in the room, the content of the presentation doesn’t make it into the stream unless someone (re)tweets it.

So what if your presentation software could send tweets on your behalf that were timed to the slides of your presentation? You could effectively simulcast your presentation through the backchannel as a part of the conversation, adding ‘more info’ links, credits, or anything else you could imagine…

Enter Keynote Tweet, a simple open-source script that provides the capacity to participate in the backchannel by combining Twitter with Apple Keynote. All you have to do is add text wrapped in [twitter] and [/twitter] tags in the presenter notes section of a slide. When that slide comes up in the presentation the script grabs that text and sends it to Twitter on your behalf.

Here are the details:

The software works with Keynote (on a Mac) but not with Powerpoint. It’s written in AppleScript so it’s easy to customize — it’s compiled as a Stay-Open application but you can open it in Script Editor to modify as you wish. Out of the box it will ask you if you want to add any #hashtags or @mentions to all the tweets (e.g. for a conference #hashtag), and will watch your presenter notes for [twitter]twitter this[/twitter], ignoring the rest of your notes, while in presentation mode only.

In order for the code to work you’ll need to have your Twitter credentials in your Keychain. If they’re not in there already, use Keychain Access to add a new password to your login keychain with the following information:

  • Keychain Item Name:
  • Account Name: Your email address
  • Password: Your Twitter password

(Thanks to for this approach to applescript)

I (@gentry) will be testing this tomorrow at the Enterprise 2.0 conference (#e2conf) for the first time. If you happen to be there I’d love to hear any feedback on how it works in real life…

Click here to download Keynote Tweet at Google Code