Tips for politicians and journalists using Twitter Spaces

I wrote a guide to Twitter Spaces that goes into a bit more detail regarding the new experience that Twitter is putting together for its users. I also wanted to provide an easier tip list for journalists and politicians on how to use Twitter Spaces, so I put that together below.

If you’d like me to help you put together an interesting Twitter Space, give me a shout.

Twitter Spaces is more active in the evening

If you’d like to gather a bunch of people to join your Twitter Space, evenings work best. At present, the feature is only bundled with the mobile Twitter app. Like many others, Twitter users in media, GR, and politics, tend to keep track of Twitter on their desktop/laptop during the day and are more likely to be scrolling tweets on their mobile devices later in the evening. So, launch your space when your followers are more likely to be on their mobile devices. I’ve found that an ideal time it 9pm Eastern time as provides an after work/after dinner time for users to tune in.

Use your home timeline to gather users who are actively on the app

A challenging aspect of Twitter Spaces is building momentum. When you start your Space, you’re the only one present and those first few minutes can feel like throwing a party and nobody showing up. To get your Space going sooner, take a look at your timeline to figure out who just tweeted and DM an invite to them to join the Space.

Invite people who get along with others and diversify your speakers panel

One of the best aspects of Twitter Spaces is discovery. When users in your Space are promoted to speaker status, their users are either actively (via push) or passively (via the Fleets) notified of the Space. Twitter Spaces can become echo chambers (now with echoing feedback) and this does little to expand your reach. Invite speakers who would provide great engagement in the overall discussion but that also don’t broadly overlap with your own audience. Bring new audiences into your Space and look at it as a chance to introduce your own audiences to new voices.

Set parameters for your discussion and keep the conversation focused

Your Twitter Space comes with a description field that you can edit. Use this to describe the purpose/topic of your Space. As a host, redirect the coversation toward the main topic(s) as much as you can and be ready to remove speakers who take the conversation off-course. As a journalist/political host of a Twitter Space, you’ll want your conversations more focused rather than a free-for-all.

Host topical discussions

Most (interested) visitors to your Twitter Space will be aware of the issue or news event you’ve set out as the topic of discussion. Keeping the chat topical will make your Space more accessible to your audience. Ensure your topics are tangible and thus easily grasped by your audience.

Twitter is about what’s happening now, so leverage this in your audio chat.

Defuse ad hominem discussions and redirect to issues and events

Keep the Space welcoming to all comers and set the tone by redirecting when the conversation turns personal. Discussions about politics and media can easily slip into personal critiques as these fields are largely driven by personalities.

However, conversations of this nature in this type of forum get boring fast. How long can you really chat about Justin Trudeau’s hair and smugness? Tweets like this are easy to throw around, but keeping an audience engaged like this in an audio chat is harder than you’d think. Worse, your chat can spiral out of control as those who enjoy this type of chatter will be encouraged to contribute more of the same, while those who do not will leave your Space.

If your goal is reach and audience expansion, keep the conversation accessible to newcomers. Redirect the conversation around events and issues.

Leave the talking points to Power & Politics and Powerplay

If you’re a poltician and you’re hosting or guesting on a political space, you’ll find that nobody really wants to hear a list of talking points. Treat the Space as a conversation in a small group rather than stump speech. Because others are encouraged to engage and discuss, speaking past others in the way that reciting talking points often does, doesn’t really work in this forum. However, anecdotes and stories – those other political standbys – do work well.

Remember that political panels on TV are confrontational. Political Twitter Spaces are much more conversational.

Schedule a Space ahead of time and let your audience know who you’ve lined up

Your speakers will require a bit of a heads up if you’d like to have them participate. Confirm their availabilities and promote your Space and its start time. Warm up the Space allowing it to grow to a critical mass before the arrival of your featured speakers. Promote the participation of your speakers by tweeting out a notice of the scheduled start time of your Space. Encourage your speakers to retweet and promote their own participation.

As a host, don’t neglect housekeeping during a Space

First of all, invite supporting speakers that can carry the conversation as you perform hosting duties in the background. This may include inviting others via DM, looking up information for topics mentioned, and vetting listener requests.

Every 30 minutes, you should also encourage listeners to follow your contributors. This helps reward and incentivize the participation of your speakers. Ask your listeners and your speakers to share the Space via tweet every so often as well.

Spaces are drop-in audio chats, so remember that not every listener comes in at the start. Knowing this, reintroduce the speakers panel and topics with some regular frequency.

Encourage your speakers to update to the latest version of the twitter app

Spaces is still a new feature in the Twitter app and the development team is pushing changes almost daily. As such, previous versions of the app may be unstable with the newest features of a hosted Twitter Space.

To ensure a conversation free of app crashes and dropped audio, encourage your speaking guests to go to the Apple App Store / Google Play Store and update their app to the latest version.

Keep a Speakers panel, but ensure a couple of open spots for Q&A

As a journalist or a politician, you’ll want to keep your Spaces focused on the topics you want to talk about. Build your speakers panel accordingly. However, you should keep a couple of open spots for listeners to pose questions to the panel.

Structure the conversation so that everyone expects that those contributions from the audience are short-lived and are meant to set up longer responses from the panel. Your audience wants to hear from the speakers you’ve assembled.

Though a rant from an audience member might be satisfying one person, you’ll lose your audience if that person goes on too long. Be courteous and accomodating but be ready on the mute button as a host.

Julie Payette has resigned as Canada’s Governor General

Julie Payette resigned as Canada’s vice regal on Thursday. The former Canadian astronaut was appointed by Canada’s Queen as Governor General on the recommendation of Justin Trudeau. Payette released the following statement:

“While no formal complaints or official grievances were made during my tenure, which would have immediately triggered a detailed investigation as prescribed by law and the collective agreements in place, I still take these allegations very seriously. Not only did I welcome a review of the work climate at the OSGG, but I have repeatedly encouraged employees to participate in the review in large numbers. We all experience things differently, but we should always strive to do better, and be attentive to one another’s perceptions.

“I am a strong believer in the principles of natural justice, due process and the rule of law, and that these principles apply to all equally. Notwithstanding, in respect for the integrity of my vice-regal Office and for the good of our country and of our democratic institutions, I have come to the conclusion that a new Governor General should be appointed. Canadians deserve stability in these uncertain times.

“From a personal side, this decision comes at an opportune time, as my father’s health has seriously worsened in the last few weeks and my family needs my help.

“So it is with sureness and humility, but also with pride over what was accomplished during my tenure as Governor General and in my service to the country for the past 28 years, that I have submitted my resignation. I have informed the Prime Minister of Canada of my decision. I wish him the best as he seeks an individual to recommend to Her Majesty as the next Governor General of Canada and I wish the best to my successor. I will remain at his or her disposal.

“It has been an immense privilege to serve my country and to fulfil the constitutional duties of my Office on behalf of all Canadians. I wish to extend my thanks to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for his trust and for offering me this incredible opportunity. I would also like to thank the personnel of the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General for their work, especially under the difficult circumstances that we have known over the past months. All my gratitude also goes to the members of the RCMP who are willing to put their lives on the line to assure our protection; and to the members of the Canadian Armed Forces who have always shown tremendous respect, friendship and support. Being their Commander in chief for the last few year has been a tremendous honour. I hold them in great esteem.

“For so many Canadians, the past few months have been extremely difficult. As our country, and indeed the world, faced the reality of a pandemic, we all have had to make sacrifice and do our part to limit the spread of the virus, and to protect others, especially the most vulnerable. One cannot choose when hardship comes, but one can choose how to respond to it in times of crisis, and Canadians all over the country have answered the call. At the forefront are the health and medical personnel, essential workers, military personnel, public health officials, leaders and scientists, who have been working tirelessly to provide care, support, leadership and solutions. We owe them an immense debt of gratitude.

“I would like to conclude by conveying my sincere appreciation to Canadians for their support over the years. I have had the chance to meet, represent and celebrate the accomplishments of thousands of extraordinary Canadians from coast to coast over the past years and I will always cherish these memories. We live in a remarkable country.

It has been an honour and a privilege.”

The Rt. Hon. Julie Payette’s statement regarding her resignation

Payette is resigning after an independent review into complaints of workplace harassment and a “toxic work environment” at Rideau Hall. Some noted Payette’s mirroring of Prime Minister Trudeau’s language when he faced accusations of sexual harassment. “We all experience things differently, but we should always strive to do better, and be attentive to one another’s perceptions.” Trudeau famously remarked that in such interactions, others may experience things differently.

How much does the Governor General make and what’s the retirement package look like?

Julie Payette gives up a well-paying job in Canada’s public service. According to the Library of Parliament, the salary of the Governor General is $288,900. However, Access to Information documents obtained by the National Post in 2019, retired Governors General may claim up to $206,000 per year in office expenses after they’ve left Rideau Hall.

Who takes over vice regal duties when the Governor General abruptly resigns?

According to the law, this falls upon a special administrator. And that person is the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, Richard Wagner. From the Prime Minister’s statement on response to Julie Payette’s resignation:

“On an interim basis, the Chief Justice of Canada will be fulfilling the duties of the Governor General. A recommendation on a replacement will be provided to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and announced in due course. ”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Annamie Paul is the new leader of the Green Party of Canada

Elizabeth May‘s tenure over the Green Party of Canada has really come to a close. The leadership for the Green Party of Canada was announced this evening and the results are official. Annamie Paul is the new leader of Canada’s 5th party in Canada’s Parliament. Paul officially takes over the party from interim leader Jo-Ann Roberts.

Paul won, narrowly besting Dimitri Lascaris winning 54.5% on the eighth and final ballot. She led the field of candidates from the first ballot. Over 24,000 votes were cast. The Green Party claimed a 69% voter turnout of members.

Annamie Paul is a lawyer by profession and is from Toronto. She holds a Masters in Public Affairs from Princeton University and a law degree from the University of Ottawa. She is a former advisor to the International Criminal Court and served as a political officer to Canada’s mission to the EU.

Paul must still win a seat. She has the opportunity to run in one of two Toronto area by-elections, currently underway. Elizabeth May did not run a candidate against Jagmeet Singh when the NDP leader was looking to land a seat in Parliament, however, it is unclear at this time if the NDP will reciprocate and likewise allow Paul to run uncontested (at least by them).

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole offered his congratulations,

as did New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh.