Audience polling is a great way to drive effective audience engagement at conferences, and enhances the opportunity for information exchange between you, the speaker and your audience. Running a poll with an audience for the first time can be a daunting experience, especially if your audience size is large.
Preparation is essential to implementing a successful audience poll. If you are presenting on behalf of a client or at a conference, work in partnership with your client representative or conference organiser at each step of the process.
This guide will help you get the maximum engagement from your audience and avoid common pitfalls, making your presentation a memorable event that stands out from the crowd.
1. Define Presentation Objectives
Define the objectives for your presentation/session. What are you aiming to achieve? What do you want the audience to do following the presentation? Identify opportunities to use polling to achieve the set objectives within the content/slides.
2. Create Polling Questions
Your polling questions should be finalised prior to your conference or meeting. Consider these points when creating polling questions:
- Consider the time allocated for the session and the content being covered.
- Audience polling should be an enhancement to your presentation, hence do not overload the presentation with polls so it becomes a distraction.
- Keep the questions simple and relevant.
- Use images, videos and graphics where applicable.
- If you are testing knowledge, follow each polling question slide with additional slide(s) highlighting the content that supports the answer for each question. Hence if the content needs to be revisited you can use these slides or skip over them accordingly.
- Consider language proficiency if your audience is international.
- Use simple language. It should be very clear to the audience what they need to do to vote.
3. Technical Considerations
Prior to the conference, check the hardware and software set up available at the venue, and ensure you have met the requirements in Figure 2. ParticiPoll polling operates from a low bandwith website, and is able to cope with up to 2000 concurrent connections. On the day, run a “test poll” at the venue to check everything is working.
4. Brand Your Poll
With ParticiPoll, you can upload your organisation logo, and change your voting URL to reflect the event. Login to My Account > Customise at www.ParticiPoll.com to add your customisations.
5. Manage Your Audience
The more audience members that participate, the more likely the message/learning objectives will be met, the more likely the session with be a success and the more memorable the experience will be. To increase audience participation, tell them to bring their mobile devices (charged and ready) so that they can take part in the polling session (have this information in your communications prior to the event). Make it something they look forward to!
At the event, have a placeholder slide on the screen notifying the audience that an interactive session will be taking place (Figure 3). Provide them with your branded URL and QR Code. Emphasising the poll is anonymous can also help drive participation.
6. Run An Ice-Breaker Poll
To ensure you have the audience ready and online to participate, run an icebreaker poll, to familiarize your audience with the polling software. This can be based on anything of interest and appropriate to build up the anticipation for an effective session. From this poll, you can establish how many audience members are participating and nudge them further to drive up the numbers to the maximum.
7. Presentation With Live Polling
With everything in place you should now be ready to start the session and invite your audience to participate. Remind your audience they are working together with you, and they co-own the session with you. If your audience is participating in a live polling session for the first time, they naturally are curious to see how it works.
When voting starts and the answers begin recording on the screen, the audience excitement begins as they watch the evolving pattern of responses on the screen. Your audience is now engaged!
8. Share Your Experience
You may wish to share the outcome of your polling session. If you are presenting at a conference or on behalf of a client, consult with the conference organisers, or client representative to discuss this. Remember your audience can become ambassadors for the content you are sharing, and are a vehicle for sharing the message further.
Sharing results or their experience of the session on social media for instance can ensure your message can live long after your presentation is over and gain you important earned media. Ending the presentation and session with a slide reminding the audience to tweet or post their experiences, and provide relevant hashtags (Figure 4).
Arrange for photos/videos to be taken of your audience polling sessions and share this interactive element with others. At ParticiPoll we are always excited to hear about your experiences with audience polling, so keep us posted! #ParticiPoll