It’s pretty clear we are all addicted to our smartphones. They are always by our side and we spend a large part of our lives staring into their screens. And why wouldn’t we? Since the release of the iPhone in 2007 we now carry around more computing power in our back pocket than NASA had available to them for the 1969 moon landing. They are indispensable for business and essential for our social lives. So if everyone at your event is carrying around a tiny touchscreen computer, why not use it to your advantage?
The concept of ‘Bring Your Own Device’ is permeating quickly through the corporate and IT world. Employees already own the IT technology necessary to do their jobs and they’ve made a personal choice to invest in a particular device and are familiar and comfortable with it. Savvy businesses have realized the potential of allowing employees to use their own technology which they have spent time becoming comfortable with.
Considering your whole audience is carrying around interactive devices, why not use them to enhance your brand and message? Any opinion, impression, suggestion or question can be collected, collated, displayed and acted on at a moment’s notice. You can gather audience data through snap multi-choice polls, geographical mapping (e.g. ‘What’s your postcode? Answers displayed on a map) and questions from the audience to a speaker or panel.
Audiences that actively engage with a presentation are more attentive and will retain more information. Presenters that are adequately prepared to deal with crowd-directed structure will deliver content that is more relevant and interesting to their audience. Also you gather invaluable data for your company for either internal improvement or marketing material.
The key is simplicity. Yes smartphones can measure your heart rate while telling you what song is on the radio but the more complex the task the less your audience will engage with it. All smartphones have an internet browser and SMS capability, the quickest and easiest way of getting your audience interacting is to use those universal gateways.
Again, keep it simple. Questions should have one part only. For multiple choice questions each option should be distinct with no ambiguity. Buzzwords, acronyms and any other wording that isn’t universally understood should be avoided totally.
At Staging Connections we run a web-based BYOD platform called Event Poll. Delegates open their browsers log into a specific URL, vote on a question or write their own. These results are instantly displayed via a branded template on the event’s screen. Even attendees with a 90’s Nokia can still vote via SMS.
With multiple-choice questions, you must prepare a response to each possibility. If you are doing a product launch and ask the audience how likely they are to buy this product and the answer comes back ‘not at all’, you have to be ready to do some fast-talking.
Have you ever experienced the ‘elephant in Denmark’ mental trick? It is a classic example of how to make engagement and interactivity with your audience work towards your purpose. Make use of leading questions to bring someone to understand your point/product. Sales professionals have long used the technique of ‘yes’ questions to close a deal; Do you hate having bad hair? ‘Yes’ Is it hard to fix your hair on the run? ‘Yes’ I’ve got combs here – would you like a red one? ‘Yes’.
BYOD methods allow you to introduce solutions to problems that your audience may not have realized they have. Interactivity helps people internalize the reasons behind changes to processes. On the other hand it can help you gain insight into barriers or objections to adoption your employees have, which you can then address specifically.
People that cannot be physically present at your event can still experience and interact via webcast and social media. Twitter is a particularly useful communication tool for your event. It is free and available on all operating systems and devices. You can aggregate your event’s tweets using an appropriate hashtag. This way audience members can comment and ask questions of the presenters.
Staging connections run a software platform called Event Tweet that integrates all Tweets to a specific account and specific hashtag with the event’ AV system and webcast feeds. A moderator controls the display within the venue and on the webcast feed of all the content, screening out any offensive or off-topic material. It has a branded, customizable framework for the Twitter content so that you can even run sponsorship images and video at specified times, turning your AV from a cost centre to a revenue generator.
Lively events entail a lot of probing, pushing and polling so it is important to let your audience have a bit of fun too. If you are running a gala dinner, awards night or any other less formal event, there’s a great range of playful uses for real-time polling and live Tweeting. Do you have a red carpet entrance? Poll the audience for best dressed. Are you running a charity auction? Use the app for bidding. Who’s got the best joke about the CEO? Tweet it to our hashtag – but be careful! You can even incorporate the content from your main event into the games – first prize to the person who Tweets the correct answer!
Even with hundreds of audience members, BYOD interactivity is simple, low in bandwidth and easy to roll out in almost any venue. Tiny packets of data are required to vote on a multiple-choice question, so low network coverage is not a problem and what you gain from your audience is well worth it. Your audience will be more than happy to share information that is usually hard to get from them if you approach the use of BYOD with insight, care and attention to detail. New software and applications are being developed every day catering to this market. Talk to Staging Connections when planning your next event to find out what your audience can bring to you.
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