Have you ever heard of “Death by PowerPoint?” This generally refers to a presentation that makes poor use of slides. But what it really means is that the speaker bored the audience. However, even if the slides are well made, a lack of crowd interaction can result in disinterested attendees. Most meeting planners are well aware of this phenomenon and go to great lengths to alleviate its effects.
Traditional techniques often involve cumbersome methods such as someone walking around with a microphone receiving questions from the crowd. Other variations including a line of people behind a mic or someone collecting index cards with written questions. While these approaches do allow some interaction, it is usually reserved for the end of the presentation, often for logistical reasons. Consequently, the resulting attendee engagement is still low.
These attempts to increase user interaction ignore the Godzilla in the room. At your average meeting, people are tethered to at least one internet-ready device, usually their smartphone. Why not use this to your advantage? Since people are often on their phone anyway, an attempt to engage the audience through these devices is bound to have better results.
Fortunately, there is a great technology called “Session Question and Answer” that lets people with smartphones and tablets interact with the presenter(s) at a given session. Here is how it works:
- Someone is designated before the session to be a “moderator.” While this person could be the presenter, it is best to designate someone else to minimize distractions.
- Attendees use their mobile event app to get to the appropriate session information screen. This should then link to an area where questions can be asked – the “Session Q&A” page.
- The primary feature of the Session Q&A page is to let attendees post questions to the presenter. This is done through a simple text field.
- If the session has many attendees, there may not be time to answer all the questions. To make sure the most important points are addressed, attendees can “vote” on which questions they want answered. One example of this voting is to give a “thumbs up” to a question of interest, and a “thumbs down” to what should be ignored. This is also a great way to discourage “spammers” such as over-zealous vendors.
- The moderator has a Session Q&A screen designed for the specific purpose of answering questions. The system ranks those of the most interest and the moderator can then present those to the speakers.
- Attendees will receive extra value if the moderator can write down some notes about the answers to the Session Q&A screen. These can then be retrieved for future reference.
- Added features will help in managing the session. In particular, the moderator should be able to delete or mark as inappropriate those questions that are unworthy. He or she can also archive answered questions.
The role of moderator has an added benefit to the show planner. Being named as a moderator is a great way to recognize people who help your organization, such as sponsors and board members. Consequently, Session Question and Answer will not only increase audience engagement, but can build loyalty with your stakeholders.
Click here to find out more about mobile event apps that can increase audience engagement.