A skilled speaker can intuitively sense whether he or she has lost the crowd or has them on the edge of their seats – but while there’s often time made for audience interaction in the form of Q&As or comments during a meeting, it’s difficult to get a true feel for what a crowd is thinking about the meeting’s content – and not everyone feels comfortable verbally speaking their mind. Audience response software aims to address that problem.
There are plenty of options (Sli.do, Poll Everywhere, Glisser, Mentimer, etc.) on the market with overlapping features, selling points, and technical capabilities. It’s no wonder why the competition is fierce: the stakes are high. Multiply the number of attendees at your next meeting by how much you (or they) value their time, and you remember the true expense of meetings, beyond the rental fees, equipment, food, and so on. Maximizing the understanding between the meeting hosts and attendees within a certain window of time is often the goal of a meeting, in one form or another.
Here, we highlight some of the modes of interaction that these technologies enable, making meetings and presentations feel like true two-way engagements.
Crowdsource Questions from the Audience
This is probably the most widely known capability of audience response software. The selling point is clear: Rather than lining up, competing for a microphone, raising your hand, or otherwise “putting yourself out there,” attendees can now pose their questions from the digital comfort of their devices. We’re all wired differently, and the thought of voicing a question out loud is terrifying to some attendees – maybe some of your brightest ones. Letting them ask questions from their phone, sorting through them, and answering the best ones unlocks hidden value.
Use Live Polls to Measure Audience Sentiment
Responses on an audience polling system come in a number of forms: word clouds, multiple choice, five-star ratings, open text boxes, etc. Depending on the context, you’ll find that one method may be better than another for a particular question. (For example, if you’re asking the audience to grade something, the five-star input method would be better than an open text box.) There are a couple key jobs that live polls can accomplish: They can inform the speaker about the audience’s opinions, and therefore, help nudge the programming in one direction or another; and two, they can inform the audience about the rest of the audience’s opinions. Sometimes, attendees are surprised at the opinions of their peers.
Share Quizzes to Test Audience Knowledge
This one will keep your audience on their toes. Whether you bake the questions into your presentation in between slides, or decide, spur of the moment, to test the audience’s knowledge of the material and create a quiz on the spot, quizzes are a natural way to keep people engaged. There’s a school of thought that gamifying learning can capture interest and stoke excitement, even when the material may not be particularly exciting. If your content is particularly dry, you could even mix in a few fun, off-topic multiple-choice questions – maybe about key players in the company, local sports, or movies.