From the February 2011 issue of Entrepreneur

I give a lot of speeches. My audiences have changed over the years, from the "We're more cutting edge than you but you seem to have ideas" crowds to the "Who is this guy, and why is he on our stage?" sets. The beauty is that the latter groups usually seem to get a lot more out of what I'm sharing than the cool kids do. The hard part is that I really have to do my homework to knock it out of the park.

Here's how I do what I can to wow them before, during and after presentations.

Before
I use the social web to research people and organizations attending my event. Online resources make it easier than ever to gain insight into who will be in your audience and what they're all about.

Conferences often come with a hashtag or other reference word, so you can search Twitter and Google Blog Search for references. You can plug the event's name into LinkedIn and Upcoming.org to see if there are conversations you can glean information from.

During
I'm a bit of a Luddite when it comes to presenting. I prefer no slides. I tend to rely on a notepad and experience instead of gadgetry. Why? Because things have a habit of failing. However, if you want to try some interesting technology and branch out beyond PowerPoint or Keynote, check out Prezi.com. It makes for a whole different method of visualization, and it certainly keeps people's attention.

When my speeches are public, or at least OK to publicize, I encourage people in the audience to use my Twitter name (@chrisbrogan) and a hashtag for the speech, as well as the event hashtag. This lets people search their online notes later, plus it promotes my efforts and the event for others.

Another thing I love to do with a presentation is to blend in digital elements ahead of time that launch while I'm speaking. For instance, if I'm live at 1 p.m., I'll set up a blog post to launch at that time with the handout information for the presentation. Poof--instant traffic to my site for first-timers in that audience (and potential new referrals for later).

After
When all is said and done, I see who's written blog posts or tweeted about my speech, and I follow up with everyone individually (again using the search tools mentioned previously). I make sure that everyone who's talking about me or to me on the social web gets a response, which helps foster new relationships.

This advice works for pitches, speeches, demonstrations and more. It wouldn't work well if an event were private, but it's fair game otherwise. Building these digital bridges pops your interaction with an audience up to new levels. Get ready to go live.