Two Ways to Let Your Audience Co-Create Presentation Content

By Laura Bergells on

Your audience has the technology. They’re carrying smart phones. They have net books or note books.

So why not let them use their snazzy tech tools to co-create presentations? Here are two tech-driven ways to let your audience co-create presentation content.

PollEverywhere. Audience interactivity is a big part of the draw of PollEverywhere. You ask your audience a question; they can answer using Twitter, text messages, or the web. The PollEverywhere online service instantly tabulates audience survey results in chart form in your PowerPoint presentation.

PollEverywhereI used PollEverywhere in class earlier this week — it took me only a few minutes to craft a few cheeky surveys using the service. Downloading the poll as a PowerPoint slide (ppt or pptx) was a smooth, one-click operation. When students took the poll, results weren’t exactly immediate — I estimated a 15-20 second lag time before the graph started moving and changing before our eyes. Not bad at all.

PollEverywhere also allows you to ask open-ended questions as well as create bar or column charts. You may download survey results in CSV format, tweak colors and font sizes, and embed polls in web pages. This tool is very simple to use, yet fun and potentially quite powerful. Free for a small audience of 30 or less, PollEverywhere also provides more robust options with its paid services for use with larger audiences.

Twitter Hashtags. In the 1990’s, I would often moderate candidate forums during election years. To keep these town hall meetings civil, we would pass out index cards and ask the audience to write out their candidate questions. Audience members passed their written questions to volunteers who made sure that the most popular and well-framed questions were brought forward to my lectern.

Today’s audience may warm to a similar approach that is more transparent than using index cards. Why not ask a modern audience to Tweet their questions with a special Twitter hashtag for panel discussions? This lets a tech-savvy audience easily see the most popular and well-framed questions, while preventing boors from hijacking the Q&A portion of the program with tiresome or poorly-framed questions. Services like Tweetchat and Twitterfall let the panel and audience easily visualize the scope of questions surrounding the topic at a larger meeting, forum, or conference.

How else have you used technology to encourage audience interaction in your presentations? What works well? What doesn’t?