During meetings and events, some of your audience's attention will inevitably wander. The key to a successful conference is managing that attention and responding to it.
For many years, industry experts have regarded audience response systems as one of the most effective methods of gathering data on attendees and participants as well as retaining engagement. Whether you're running a small-scale meeting or filling an entire conference centre, audience response systems can be tailored to provide the highest impact and give precise and timely feedback to conference organisers.
We live in an era of real-time data and instant gratification - that means your events need to take these paradigms into account, not fight them. Audience response systems deliver significant benefits to both organisers and attendees, improving information retention and engagement.
Response systems are suitable for many applications
Early applications of the audience response system began in Hollywood media studies, corporate board meetings and educational settings, but new technology has made them suitable and adaptable for a much wider variety of settings. As the cost of these solutions becomes more competitive and networking tech gets cheaper, event planners can tailor their systems to precisely the type of applications they need, whether they be:
- AGMs: AGMs require accurate and timely responses, and these systems can greatly streamline and improve these events, giving instantaneous and accurate feedback on motions and votes.
- Training sessions: Training and corporate education professionals need to ensure the information they're imparting is being absorbed efficiently across a broad base of audience members, and response systems allow them to do so.
- Public gatherings and political events: Today's constituencies are increasingly mobile- and tech-savvy, and audience response systems can greatly improve the efficacy of a town hall meeting or public comment session.
- Company meetings and conferences: When it's time to get all hands on deck for a corporate event, you want to make sure every employee is focusing on the same core messages. Audience response systems can play a vital role here.
New technologies have pushed ARS forward
Audience response system technology has advanced a long way since its origins with IBM clickers and dials. Modern solutions employ wireless technologies and can even integrate with users' personal phones via SMS, WiFi and Bluetooth.
Finding the right solution depends on the application at hand - some response systems support basic polling functions while others can integrate complex queries.
It's also important to keep your audience demographics in mind. The level of comfort with audience response systems may vary depending on the age, technical sophistication and industry of your average meeting or conference attendee. Look at your audience to plan accordingly.
Plan what you want from your audience
A meeting is, in effect, a conversation between you and your audience. You have lessons and knowledge you want to impart, and feedback you need. Conversely, they're looking to engage with your message.
Your audience response system will facilitate that conversation, not hinder or overshadow it. This means you need to plan around both your goals and your audiences'. In some cases, all you need is a simple yes-no, up-down answer. A simple clicker solution can do the trick here.
In others, you're looking for more nuanced feedback, or a way to incorporate more diverse opinions, so you might consider an SMS voting system or other web-based solution.
For more information on audience response systems or other audiovisual solutions for your event, conference or meeting, contact your local FMAV office.