Audience Response Systems
Audience participation has come a long way in today’s high-tech environment. With the latest interactive audience response systems (ARS), attendees can use a keypad or clicker device, or even their smartphones to provide immediate feedback to a presenter. The benefits of using the technology are numerous: It keeps attendees actively engaged in a presentation, it creates a democratic approach to discussions because the least-shy person no longer has the upper hand, and anonymity enables discreet discussions and feedback about sensitive topics. Plus, it’s a greener approach than the old paper-and-pen method, and responses are more candid because you’re gathering impressions in real time.
Poll Everywhere gathers live responses in any venue, and it’s free for audiences of 30 or fewer. Attendees use a mobile device or laptop to participate via text, Twitter or the web, and the presenter can get the data within seconds. Results are reported easily and quickly via a PowerPoint slide that is cut and pasted from the website into the presentation before the session. There are several plans available with cost based on audience size. The $375/month conference plan is a solid option for meetings: It has unlimited use throughout the month, allows up to 10 users, and 2,500 people can respond to a poll at any given time.
TurningPoint by Turning Technologies fully integrates with PowerPoint to create interactive presentations. Attendees use their smartphone or laptop, or a specialized keypad to respond to interactive questions during a presentation. PowerPoint then becomes a single point for data collection, assessment and reporting.
IML provides interactive meeting services using a range of specialized keypad devices. The IML Communicator is a particularly useful one: In addition to voting and texting functions, it has a built-in wireless microphone — when an attendee pushes the microphone button, it locks everyone else out. IML software can display poll results using 3-D animation or show them over a graphic; there are plug-ins for PowerPoint and Flash. .Costs for the technology are higher (as much as $20 per device per event), but a flexible pricing model depends on how many events and how many attendees.