How to Fuse Talks, Polls and Q&A in the Ultimate Interactive Session

Juraj Holub
Slido Sharing Economy Session at IMEX America

For so long, presentations, panels, and Q&A have been fixed and standard items on the average conference menu. As event planners committed to shaking things up we often set off on that elusive search for creative ideas to wow our audience. But sometimes we don’t need to look so far or try to re-invent the wheel.

Sometimes the pieces are already there, we just need to mix them in a new way.

This is exactly what Padraic Gilligan from SoolNua did with the session Why the meetings industry should care about the sharing economy which was part of Smart Monday at IMEX America.

Padraic blended short, Pecha Kucha-style presentations and a panel discussion into the interactive mix that kept the audience sitting on the edge of their chairs for 90 minutes.

The secret ingredient that made this work was facilitation. Padraic is one of the most innovative facilitators that we know and he once again succeeded to balance all the critical elements:

  • Hot topic
  • Expert content
  • Audience participation

Let’s take a look at the goals and meeting design now.


Padraic Gilligan invited five company directors to present their companies and share their take on the topic of the shared economy. The goal of this session was to explore the disruptive possibilities of the sharing economy and their impact on the events industry as we know it.

True to its title, Padraic designed the meeting in a way that over 70 attendees present in the room got the chance to share their opinion and experience with the panelists as well as with one another.


Setting the scene for the session, Padraic ran a series of polls to reveal how US buyers and suppliers viewed sharing economy services.

In the first poll, a startling 88% admitted that they had personally used the sharing economy, with Uber and Airbnb leading the list. Interestingly, the second poll revealed that 50% already used the sharing economy for their clients and another 36% plans to do so in the future.


The middle of the session consisted of 6-minutes presentations during which five company directors each described their respective business models, history and opportunities.

Each round was then closed by a poll question that revolved around the challenges that their business aspired to solve.

Collecting feedback with live polls allowed Padraic to check the pulse of the room and also ignite mini discussions. For panelists, real-time results represented a valuable feedback from their target group.

Poll questions that kicked off discussions:

  • Have you booked a non-hotel sharing economy style venue for a meeting over the last 6 months? (87% No)
  • Will local immersive food experiences become mice events? (48% Yes)
  • On a B2B level, how likely would you trust these sharing economy consumer markets like Airbnb or Uber? (3.9 out of 5)
  • What would be the primary driver trying a sharing-economy company? (Open Poll: Experience)
  • Who will benefit most quickly from the shared economy? (Attendees 81%)

Mini discussions

As soon as the voting was over, Padraic encouraged participants sitting in groups of 5-8 at round tables to elaborate on the poll results and share their experience and know-how.

Facilitating these 5-min long mini discussions, Padraic was able to create a buzzing peer-to-peer learning environment and trigger networking among the delegates.

Sharing Economy session at IMEX key topics


The closing was traditionally dedicated to the Q&A. To tailor the discussion to the needs of participants, Padraic let the audience submit and upvote their questions throughout the session.

With a list of almost 40 prioritized questions, Padraic ensured that the session ended with a bang.

How to replicate it at your event

Below, I propose a few practical steps on how to design a similar session at your own event. 

Intro: Introduce the topic to set the tone and use polls to bring people in right from the get-go (5-10 min)

Presentations: Pecha Kucha-style presentations (6-10 min each)

Interactive discussions: After each presentation, dedicate 3-5 min for discussion in small groups so participants can share their knowledge on the presented topic. To gauge aggregate opinion and help ignite the discussion, use a live poll beforehand. (3-5 min each)

Wrap-up panel:  bring everyone back on stage to address audience questions and wrap things up (15-20 min)

For more inspiration, read how to create an immersive experience with event technology

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