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Want audience interaction? This is a powerful, flexible (and sometimes free) tool.

When you're intentional about how you use technology in the training room, it can have benefits for both the participants AND the facilitator!

I’ve written about PollEverywhere in the past, but after using it during a keynote presentation last Wednesday, I wanted to draw your attention back to this easy-to-use, powerful audience interaction tool.

Here are three different ways that I set up polls for three different purposes during the course of my presentation:

Sharing Narratives

I delivered my presentation to 150 people in an auditorium, and while small group work was feasible (“turn to the people next to you…”), it was a little more unruly and more difficult to bring people’s attention back to the front of the room once they began talking amongst themselves.

In an effort to allow people to engage with one another and to be exposed to other people’s thoughts throughout the auditorium while also trying to be a good steward of how our time was used during my presentation, I took advantage of PollEerywhere’s “open-ended” poll feature.

In this specific instance, I had the audience do a 6-word memoir activity, and then publish their memoirs on the screen at the front of the room:

6-word Memoir

Word Cloud

There are times when I want to start to draw out themes from my participants’ experiences. In smaller group settings where you can navigate a room more freely, activities where you use voting dots can certainly be a quick way to visualize where trends may be emerging.

Last week I chose to use the Word Cloud feature of PollEverywhere to quickly see where themes and trends were emerging among some of the concepts I was introducing. Specifically, in this activity I wanted to know which Dialogue Education principles the participants saw as commonplace in their own training settings.

Word Cloud

I used the Word Cloud feature again to ask which principles were most often missing.

Word Cloud 2

Not only did my participants have fun using PollEverywhere to engage with my content, but these word clouds quickly enabled me to identify what the participants were already doing naturally in their sessions, and it allowed me to see where we needed to spend some additional time going over concepts that might not be as familiar to them.

In short, using PollEverywhere in this way was not just an engagement strategy, but it was also a needs assessment strategy that allowed me to refine my message in the moment.

Traditional Poll

The final way in which I used PollEverywhere during my session was to use the basic polling feature. This was a knowledge check on my participants. After discussing some principles of effective slide design, I showed this slide:

Slide Example

Then I polled the audience:


Once I knew where they stood, and once they could see that not everyone felt this was terrible slide design, I could ask for some thoughts about what was good about it and what they’d change.

While technology in the training room can sometimes be a distraction – sometimes it’s easier and more appropriate just to ask for a show of hands instead of projecting an online poll on the screen at the front of the room – technology such as PollEverywhere can be an extremely useful engagement tool that also allows you to quickly assess where the group stands. The key here, as with many elements of instructional design, comes down to how intentional you are in choosing your engagement strategies.

Have you used software such as PollEverywhere? I’d love to hear success (and horror) stories in the comment section!

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