Audience response systems can add a great deal of value to your conferences and events. Mark Kisby explains how…
During the recent ‘Credit Crunch’ organisations were under pressure to cut their conferences and events budgets. What they saved by reducing the size of the stage or by going to a cheaper venue shouldn’t have effected the basic content of the day or the goals for staging the event in the first place. Audience response systems (ARS) were often cut early in the budget review but this can be a mistake as an audience response system will add tremendous value by giving tangible results and feed back from delegates attending.
An ARS can show whether or not the key the aims of staging an event have been met or not, it can reveal any sticking points. This allows your event to measure its effectiveness during the day and give evidence of its success to all the stakeholders.
Audience response can also maximise the available time at an event by asking delegates which themes are of most interest, so allowing you to apportion time appropriately. It costs a lot to get every one in one place so it makes sense to ensure their time together is as productive as possible.
Using these systems also sends a clear message to the attendees, that ‘we are listening and your opinion is valued’. Presenters in the dreaded post lunch grave yard slot will appreciate the regenerative powers of asking a flagging delegate a question on which they need to ponder before responding. ARS has been proven to increase retention on the subject polled and certainly your chair person will marvel at the ARS’s capability to break the ice during Q&A sessions and promote delegate interaction as they begin to discuss options with their neighbour, so leading to improved networking.
Asking post event evaluation questions at the end of the last session will save your staff days of data input from a paper based questionnaire.
So how do they work? In its basic form an audience response system comprises of a display to present the question and a range possible options / answers, and a ‘keypad’ to allow the delegate to select the option / answer which best matches their opinion.
The results of the poll are displayed immediately after the close of the 10 second voting slot. The equipment is usually radio based and wireless so allowing free distribution amongst an audience.
Some systems also offer the ability to communicate directly with the presenter through the ’free text submission’ of questions so allowing the delegate to ask their own question, or submit an idea, rather than just responding to predetermined options.
All in all if the budget is being trimmed it pays not to cut the one item that can prove the days effectiveness and show value has been obtained for the spend. If you are still looking for ways to save, go for the cheaper dessert option, cut the sparkling water and have a smaller lighting rig!