Audience participation is the bane of many a public speaker’s life. You try and make it interesting by asking the audience’s opinion – a mere show of hands perhaps – but only a few people in the auditorium actually bother to respond. In a group situation, many people are simply not confident or motivated enough to share their views. Rather than enlivening the debate or get people engaged in the subject matter, the whole thing falls flat as an uncomfortable silence fills the room. If only there was a clever, subtle way you could ask for audience participation without causing embarrassment all round.
Luckily, technology has come up with the perfect solution. What’s more, anyone who has ever watched ITV’s classic quiz show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? will tell you that asking the audience couldn’t be simpler.
Audience response systems are a great way to elicit sensible answers from your audience, and no-one is forced to share their views with anybody else in the room. Each person is handed a small remote and registers answers to specific questions by discreetly pressing corresponding buttons on the little clicker. It’s quick, it’s easy and it’s private.
Audience members love it because no-one is forced to go public with their opinions, and participation rates soar as a result. And the presenter is able to collect valuable and much more robust data than was every possible before. It’s a win/win situation.
The handsets, also known as personal response systems or electronic voting systems, are available for hire or purchase, and are a great way to transform all manner of events, from university lectures to business conferences, workshops and training sessions and a host of other applications.
Adding an element of interaction between the presenter and the audience is an important technique for many large speaking events. It keeps the audience involved and makes them feel part of the experience. You could use audience response systems to keep your delegates attentive, or test them at the end of the presentation to see how much information has been retained.
As any good public speaker, presenter or teacher will be only too aware of, it’s essential to keep coming up with new ways to help people connect with the material that you are presenting. Listening to a speaker talking at length gets boring for everyone sooner or later, meaning the audience will disengage at some point. However, mix up your presentation with different interactive tools and media and you stand a much better chance of your audience remaining focused and alert. The best presenters are those who think about their audience and how to reach them.