Engaging Attendees With Live Polling/Q&A

Welcome to the last instalment of our blog series on Engaging Attendees Inside and Outside Sessions. Inspired by our round table discussions at the UK Associations Congress, we've already covered pre-event communication, attendee networking and gaming. Our final focus is on Live Polling and Q&A and how giving attendees a voice helps with engagement.

Speaker Q&A

Let’s start with Q&A, as this is such an important part of most conference sessions. When you think Q&A images of event planners running microphones around the room probably spring to mind.

Q&A with a microphone is tried and tested of course, and it can be great, but it also has some inherent problems.

Standing up in front of an audience to ask a question verbally can be intimidating for a lot of people, so you only receive questions from the few who are happy to speak publicly.

The other issue is you have no idea if these questions are of interest to the person alone or the whole audience. Unfortunately, I’ve also seen plenty of cases where someone in the audience uses the Q&A as an opportunity to convey a self serving message that’s totally irrelevant.

Cue event app Q&A!

Unlike polls, speakers don’t need to do any specific preparation for this. The audience does all of the work , submitting the questions and then voting up the ones they want answered. This totally transforms the Q&A making it relevant and engaging.

In my opinion the Q&A is often the highlight of the session. And of course there’s nothing to stop you using it in conjunction with the microphone.

Live Polling

The other tool that’s used regularly to engage attendees inside sessions is live polling.

Polling does require the speaker or event planner to prepare.  Writing an insightful and valuable polling question sounds easy, but it’s actually quite hard. When done well it is a great way to engage attendees.

Here are a few easy ways to use this tool in a meaningful way:

   - Use it to introduce the audience to each other.

   - Poll the audience before and after the session and compare the results.

   - Customise the level of detail or the direction of the session by asking attendees to rate their level of knowledge or experience on your topic.

Don’t Forget The Data

One of the benefits of an event app is that it provides the event planner with data in real time. Don’t forget to use the live poll results and interesting questions in your tweets, posts or LinkedIn updates.