Sometimes, even the most stellar presenters can set off a yawn fest if they’re not interactive enough. As presentation experts, we know how difficult it can be to hold your audience’s attention, much less send them off with any sort of meaningful takeaway. And the margin for error narrows drastically at large conferences, where audiences may have paid hundreds of dollars and travelled a great distance to attend.
Fortunately, technology makes it easier than ever to create a one-of-a-kind experience that your audience won’t forget. At the end of this post we have shared a number of different interactive apps and platforms to try out, but first let’s look at five interactive presentation techniques for your next conference.
5 Innovative Ways to Make Your Conference Presentation Interactive
In the age of social media, audiences expect to be entertained through interactive content. And using a traditional slide deck alone is not going to cut it. Let’s take a look at some of the latest techniques presenters are using to make their conference presentations interactive.
1. Invite your audience to ask questions in real-time
Many conferences will allow time for a Q&A session but not everyone is a fan of this format. Some people will be reluctant to raise their hand and then shout out their question in front of a room full of people.
Instead, why not crowdsource questions and display them on the screen behind you? You can clump similar questions together and then answer all of them. This is a great way to make your audience feel heard and accommodate everyone. For more, read our blog post on 6 steps to answer audience questions confidently.
2. Use audience polls to engage and converse with your audience
Audience polls can really enhance your presentation. You can use polls to many different effects such as:
– Setting objectives for your presentation. Example: Of these 5 priorities, what are you most looking forward to learning from today’s presentation on Cybersecurity for Financial Institutions?
– Shining a spotlight on your audience profile. Example: How long have you been working in the finance sector?
– Garnering your audience’s opinions. Example: What is the single most important trait of a successful leader?
– Getting your audience thinking. Example: What percentage of CEOs in the Australian finance industry do you think are women?
– Gathering live insights to enhance the content of your presentation. Example: What is the biggest cybersecurity risk financial institutions will face in the next decade?
You can even use a poll as an icebreaker to lighten up the mood in the room by asking a question like “Can anyone remember, from the last speaker’s presentation, how much cyber security breaches cost the financial services industry globally last year?” Polls also work well for engaging audiences during a teleconference.
While polls can certainly be a great way to make your next conference presentation engaging, conversational and memorable, there are a few things to be mindful of.
Most real-time polls almost entirely rely on technology working perfectly (unless you decide to use the good old show-of-hands!). So ensure that you’ve explained things such as the app people need to login to vote. It’s also important that you do a test poll before your actual presentation to confirm everything works as planned.
3. Quizzes are a great way to encourage audience participation
Similar to polls, real-time quizzes can be used for a variety of different purposes. Quizzes are great because they create a sense of competition between people and this can encourage them to pay full attention to your presentation.
There are numerous quiz tools that you can use to gather votes from attendees in real time and then reveal the correct answer. These tools also allow you to create a live leaderboard if you’d like to use more than one quiz in your presentation.
Here are some ways to use quizzes in your conference presentation to up engagement levels:
– Test your audiences’ knowledge about a topic. You can do this either before or after the presentation, or both! Example: Which country has recorded the highest number of cybersecurity attacks since 2010?
– Test whether your audience has understood your content. Example: Which of these steps should you take first in the event of a data breach?
You can also add a quiz in as a fun activity to prepare them for the next speaker or even to open your presentation. And just like polls, quizzes provide your audience with a mental break which will keep them more interested and engaged.
4. Live-tweeting can take your conversations beyond the conference
Live-tweeting is an effective technique to engage with your audience before and after the conference. When used before the conference, live-tweeting can be a great way to boost awareness about the event and create excitement for those already attending.
During your presentation, you can have someone on your team live-tweeting to connect with your audience by mentioning them or by using hashtags to help people outside the conference follow your talk. People can share their opinions or biggest takeaways from your presentation, which you could even share on the screen during your presentation.
But the conversation doesn’t have to end with the conference. You can continue to engage with your audience by having a Q&A session or by highlighting your attendees. And of course, make sure you’re using a branded event hashtag so your live tweets are easy to find and follow.
5. Using sentiment barometers to evoke emotions
This audience engagement technique works really well with a presentation that involves strategic storytelling. Knowing how your audience feels about a topic – in real-time – can help you create the right setting or atmosphere for your talk.
For instance, you can ask your audience members how they feel, on a 5-point scale, about something. For example: How up-to-date do you feel regarding the changing face of cyber attacks on the industry? Or: Do you believe this new legislation will make cybersecurity compliance easier?
Platforms to Make Your Conference Presentation Interactive
Using powerful and emotive visual aids and audience involvement techniques has always been a great way to make your presentation interactive. But with presentation tech rapidly becoming more sophisticated, here are some platforms that you can use to bring your next conference presentation to life:
– Mentimeter: Mentimeter is online presentation software that uses quizzes and polls to make your presentation more engaging. You can gain feedback in real-time and you can even change it to match your company’s branding. The Limited version of this software is available for free.
– Glisser: With Glisser, your audience can view the slides on their mobile devices during the presentation. This allows them to like and comment on the slides during the presentation. And when the presentation is over, attendees can download the slides and save them for future reference. Their Entry package, which includes digital Q&A, live polling and real-time slide sharing, is available for free.
– Buzzmaster: This audience interaction app comes with journalists and event managers who sort through audience responses in real-time. They pick out the best comments and ask the audience engaging follow-up questions.
– Catchbox: Catchbox define themselves as ‘the world’s first throwable microphone’. Unlike conventional handheld mics, their product is enclosed in foam so you can throw it even to the back of a large conference hall to help anyone in the audience participate.
– Loquiz: Loquiz is a gamification tool that allows you to create your own games and scavenger hunts. You create these games online and attendees can play them on their smartphones.
– Tap to speak: This web-based tool allows audience members to interact with conference speakers in real-time by turning smartphones in a room into microphones, and allowing for text and audio comments.
Things to Remember About Using Interactive Technologies at Conferences
There are downsides to everything and interactive technology is no exception. When done right, it provides a number of ways to make your presentation memorable. But there are potential problems that you should be prepared for:
The biggest downside to watch out for is technology glitches. An example of this would be if you’re trying to conduct a poll but something isn’t working right. You try to crowdsource audience questions but the questions aren’t showing up on the screen behind you.
In both situations, this has the potential to frustrate and annoy your audience.
With real-time engagement, you’re also exposing yourself to negative comments or feedback. Think through these potential issues before your conference so you’re well equipped to field any uncomfortable questions!
And no matter how flawlessly the presentation goes or how well the technology works, there will be some attendees who won’t like your new approach. Continue to gather feedback from attendees so you can see what works well and what doesn’t.
Related reading: Expert Presentation Tips for Your Next Industry Conference
Ready to Refresh Your Conference Presentations?
With the right planning and preparation, interactive technology can improve your presentation and help your audience have a more positive experience. Don’t go overboard but why not try one or two of these creative audience participation ideas at your next event and see how your attendees respond. And if you need help preparing for your next keynote speech or business presentation, the experts at secondnature would love to help.
Written By Belinda Huckle
Founder and Managing DirectorRead Bio
Belinda is the founder and managing director of secondnature. With a determination to drive a paradigm shift in the delivery of presentation skills training, she is a strong advocate of a more personal and sustainable presentation skills training methodology.
She believes in a training approach that harnesses people’s unique personality to build their own authentic presentation style and personal brand.
Belinda is currently helping to transform the presentation skills of people in organisations such as BBC Worldwide, DHL, ESRI, Heineken, MARS Inc., Moody’s, Pfizer, Roche, Triumph and Walmart – to name just a few.