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Interacting with your audience using an audience response system

Image of turning point keypad and dongleEngaging and getting interaction from a small audience is relatively easy but what about when you are speaking to larger groups? That’s where audience response systems can be a powerful tool. By issuing everyone in the audience with a little wireless keypad you can take audience involvement to a whole new level.

I was recently lucky enough to witness a demonstration of one such system in Winchester, Stephen Lucas of Soundbite Productions showed us how such devices can increase audience participation and therefore engagement.

There were no wires, just a box of little keypads, each about the size of a pocket calculator and a USB “dongle” that plugs into you laptop. This captures the delegates’ keystrokes and feeds the data straight into PowerPoint via a small plug-in called Turning Point. the result is almost instantaneous visualization of the audiences’ views in graphical format.

The uses of such audience polling systems are many and varied:

  • To simply involve and engage the audience
  • To survey audience opinions on preferred options, policies and priorities
  • To assess learning after a training programme
  • To assess attitude change by comparing scores pre and post presentation
  • Team games and quizzes

Afterwards I asked Stephen some questions about the system and He has given my permission to reproduce his answers here:

Q – How many keypads can the system handle? A- up to 1000 per USB dongle.

Q – what is the range of the keypads? A- 100 meter radius of the receiver.

Q – how easy is the Turning point software to setup? A- it’s pretty straightforward. If you can create a slide in PowerPoint, you can set up to display the data.

Q- can you analyse the data by demographic groups? A- Yes, if you ask a question where the audience press a number to indicate which demographic they belong to, you can then analyse their subsequent responses by sub group as well as by the whole audience.

Q- how is this technology different from systems available a few years ago? A-today’s systems are much smaller, have a longer range, are easier to set up and are much more reliable.

Q- what’s the biggest audience you have used the system with? A-1,700 delegates at a Local Authority Conference.

So there you have it. The technology is there and can help us engage with and collect meaningful data from our audiences. I’d love to hear from any of you that have tired this type of technology. What has been your experience and how have you used it?

Gavin Meikle

The Presentation Doctor.

1 Comment

  1. TJ Walker on 17/10/2010 at 13:17

    I love gadgets like this–anything to make presentations more interactive. but there is a real danger that presenters focus so much attention to the gadgetry that they forget to tell interesting and compelling stories regarding success with clients and colleagues.

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