Interacting with your audience is the best way to make sure the point of your presentation really gets across. Research shows that an audience that is engaged remembers more, comprehends better, and has more positive associations with the presentation. You can boost audience participation by using some of the great software below.
Why great speaking skills aren’t enough.
Although good speaking skills go a long way in keeping your audience involved, there are a number of tools available that create and increase audience interaction. These tools range from redesigns of the microphone to software that changes the static nature of the presentation by letting you add polls, Q&A, games, and more.
Use new mic software to increase audience participation.
If the microphone only stays up on stage with the main speaker, your presentation is missing interactivity. Yet passing a mic around a room the old-fashioned way or asking audience members to walk up to standing microphones takes time and creates awkwardness.
CatchBox makes the mic fun and effective, rather than awkward and time-consuming. CatchBox is a microphone wrapped in a soft box, so it can be thrown from audience member to audience member. The result is fast movement from one question to another as CatchBox moves rapidly around the room.
Crowd Mics turns your audience members’ smartphones into microphones by connecting each phone to the room’s audio system. The presenter or moderator activates an audience member’s phone, turning it into a mic instantaneously. Once the question is asked, the next person gets a turn without awkward and time-consuming passing of the mic (or having to walk around). Additional features include the ability to submit questions by text, polling, and robust post-event analytics.
Integrate participation opportunities with audience engagement platforms.
MeetingPulse is an audience engagement platform that allows you to easily integrate polls, Q&A, multi-dimensional surveys, games, and more into your presentation. Audience members use their own devices, and access the meeting materials via a simple online link. They can then submit their own questions during the meeting or even before, and they can upvote questions posed by others. This allows the presenter to weed out irrelevant and repetitive questions, gain insight into the audience’s concerns, and set the agenda for the meeting.
In addition to Q&A, you can vary your presentation further by using polls and quizzes to illustrate points or collect data for the future. You can even use features to gauge the emotional pulse of the room at any point, letting audience members report whether they are liking the content, are bored or confused by it, or are in disagreement with the speaker. It also delivers a robust analytics package for the presenters.
Apps can make networking faster and more effective.
Just as important as the presentation or conference itself is the time spent making connections and meeting other professionals who are interested in the same thing you are. Although a handshake and a business card still work, apps make networking faster, more direct, and less time-consuming. Bizzabo’s networking app integrates with LinkedIn and Twitter, allows for private messaging between attendees, and lets participants easily build rich profiles.
Brella has similar capabilities to Bizzabo, but will also suggest matches and meetings based on common interests. One advantage of this approach is that it is easier for attendees to retain information after the event, rather than looking through business cards that are easily misplaced and misremembering interests and encounters.
Whether you choose an app that matches you automatically or one that allows you to filter and sort participants to find those you’d like to meet, you can use the information to reach out and make plans for meeting in person. Collaboration will eventually move beyond the app, but attendees will access it long after the event to look up information.
Social media wall platforms build online buzz.
Your audience won’t be very motivated to engage with your topic if they don’t see why it’s important to their lives after the presentation. Publicizing the event on social media, and doing so in real time, shows your audience its relevance to their lives and raises their motivation to stay engaged. Tagboard lets you show off your audience’s tagged posts across major social networks, display them in a number of formats, and easily choose which posts to display and promote.
Walls.io is another similar tool, with more customization options and powerful moderation options (including creating blacklists and whitelists). By using these tools, you encourage your audience to create new relevant hashtags as they talk about the event on social media. Attendees will want to tweet about the event because of their natural desire to be seen by others. This is a win-win because it keeps them more engaged with the presentation while fulfilling their desire to be active on social media. It’s a win for the presenter as well, because it creates new content about your meeting for free, expanding the reach of your event.
Slide sharing makes for better information publishing.
The content of your presentation is just as important as how well you present it. A number of services allow you to transfer the slide you’re presenting on the big screen to attendees’ devices in real time. Distributing slides electronically rather than on paper makes it less likely that they will be lost, and cuts down on paper waste. Audiences can take notes on their own slides on their devices, as they would on paper, and save the annotations. By distributing the slides electronically, the attendees don’t have to go back later to download the slides, and instead have a handy reference to all the relevant information.
MightyMeeting allows you to share content with your audience (or with collaborators in a virtual meeting), control when the slides are pushed to participants’ phones, and encourage audience participation via annotation and note-taking on the slides. The ability to push information from the presenter’s big screen to attendee screens maximizes the amount of information you can communicate to the audience. Audiences are becoming increasingly comfortable processing information from two screens simultaneously. Plus, presenting secondary or supplemental information on the large screen both draws your audience more effectively into the presentation and communicates more information.
The cost of incorporating new technologies is always a tough pill to swallow — but it’s worth more audience participation. Use these five software ideas, and you’ll make a lasting impact that keeps you at the top of attendees’ minds.
Want more great tech tools you can use to boost your event? The possibilities go far beyond interacting with the audience! Check out our free eBook below for 73 ideas that make events even easier.
Paul is partnership director at Meeting Pulse, a live audience interaction platform with features, such as real-time audience polling, Q&A, surveys, quizzes, raffles – all available in anonymous mode. Paul’s writes on eventtech, employee engagement, and audience interaction.