There are things that go together perfectly. Like gin and tonic or fish and chips. It’s hard to imagine that they can exist without one another. Presentations and live polls are like that – they perfectly complement each other and make the audience experience much more interactive.
Sticking to the culinary analogies, the audience is hungry for more interaction. At SXSW EDU, we witnessed 500% year-over-year growth in a number of polls that the speakers used during their sessions.
But it’s important to set the right expectations. It is unrealistic to expect that the polls themselves will save an unprepared speech. Like we cannot blame PowerPoint for a poor presentation.
These are just the tools to help us better convey our message or reach the meeting objectives. It is still up to our skills as speakers how well we leverage these presentation technologies.
And this is exactly what we’ll address in this article.
We will take you through tips on how to integrate Slido into your presentation and, importantly, we will discuss how to facilitate their use. Let’s get started!
Every time we’re about to present or host a session either internally or externally, we look at the storyline and think where we could insert some interaction. To us, engagement is as important as content.
We like to think of these spots as interaction points where you purposefully insert the activities that stimulate engagement.
There might be obvious points to throw in a poll in order to raise curiosity. For example, before revealing research findings or business results, the questions could be:
“What do you think, how many respondents consider/do…?”
“What was the main challenge the companies indicated…?”
“How many people found it difficult to..?”
In general, we try to follow the human attention span and use a poll every 7-10 mins to rekindle it.
This strategy will allow you to (1) break the long content deliveries into more digestible chunks, (2) regain audience attention, (3) ignite conversations based on the results.
As for the overall number of polls, you cannot go wrong with 3-4 polls for a 30-min talk and a maximum of 5-6 polls for a 60-min talk.
You know where to insert your polls; now you have to decide which type you need.
Multiple-choice: They are quick and easy to use and work great for gauging the opinion or knowledge level in the room. They are also ideal for warming up the audience at the start.
Pro tip: With multiple-choice polls where you expect people to select a correct answer, it’s important to set the right difficulty level.
Harvard Professor Eric Mazur, also a huge fan of polling, suggests that ideally, 30-70% of the audience should get the right answer.
Less than 30% means the question is too difficult and the learning won’t happen as people are not familiar with the topic.
Over 70% of correct answers, the question was too easy.
Open text polls: Here, you give the freedom to your audience members to submit their answers and ideas without any restrictions. They are really effective for crowdsourcing suggestions, challenges, or areas for improvement. Make sure to give people more time as they need to type in their answers.
Word cloud: Word clouds are a cool-looking variation of the open text. They work particularly well with one- or two-word expressions, as the most common words enlarge on screen. To optimize their use, start your questions with “In one word, what do you..?”
Rating polls: As the name suggests, these polls let your audience rate things. You can use them to rate what you just presented. For example, at our quarterly offsite, our CEO lets us ‘rate’ the business objectives and then encourages the team to share why they had voted the way they did face-to-face.
Once you have your flow thought-through, it’s time to align the polls with your slide deck.
With Slido, you don’t embed polls directly into your presentation. Instead, you activate them remotely with your smartphone. Once you activate a poll, it appears on top of your slide until you deactivate it and move on with your story. It gives you lots of flexibility.
As a solo presenter, you can do it easily from one computer.
Technically, you’re ready to rock the stage!
The moment to shine is here! The last thing you need to do before firing up the polls is to give people instructions.
From experience, it’s more effective and seamless to introduce Slido at the start of your talk.
Just tell them to:
1. Go to slido.com
2. Enter the event code
3. And send their votes (and submit questions if you’re using a Q&A feature too)
A great practice is to run a warm-up poll to get people to open the app so they are ready when you fire up your first “real” poll. As people will already be in the app, it will only take a few seconds for the results to start appearing on the screen.
Pro tip: To increase participation, you can follow the vote count in the top right corner to see how many people have already sent in their votes. You can encourage more people to participate by saying: “We’re on 85, let’s try to hit at least 100.”
Live polling brings real value only when it’s facilitated. As our dear friend and seasoned moderator, Jan-Jaap In der Maur said:
“The moderators or speakers need to move beyond the mere act of voting. What’s really critical is the follow-up on the results of the vote.”
In other words, there is very little meaning in just collecting the votes if we don’t elaborate on the results or trigger a discussion afterward.
So don’t just move on once the voting is closed. Make sure to share your thoughts on the results and set them in the context of your talk.
You can also take it a step ahead and ask the people in the audience what they think about the results. Encourage the volunteers to share their comments and insights. This way, you create a conversation that flows both ways.
While commenting from the stage is a good practice, the real magic happens when you use the results to trigger the conversation with or among your audience.
That’s when the polling gains deeper meaning.
At the IMEX Sharing Economy session, Padraic Gilligan used multiple-choice polls to reveal to what extent the event organizers in the room use services like Uber or Airbnb to cater to their clients.
With the participants seated at round tables, he encouraged the groups to discuss why they voted the way they did and elaborate on their position with the rest of the group.
The spatial arrangement might now allow you to create groups, but you can easily achieve similar results by pairing the people who sit next to each other.
You can also reverse the technique described above and get people to talk before they vote. As Jan-Jaap mentioned in another part of the article: “start with a 100% human-to-human conversation” before you move to the tech part.
At Conventa Crossover, Jan-Jaap put the participants into groups of five and got them to discuss the future of the workplace for five minutes. After the group conversations had taken place, he conducted an open text poll and displayed their ideas on screen for everyone to see.
Internally, we use a similar technique. At our monthly all-hands meetings, our CEO Peter puts people in pairs and lets them discuss top highlights of the past 4 weeks. Then, he crowdsources the achievements and gives praise to those who made them happen.
With the tips mentioned above, live polling can generate a lot of discussion, which is great! At some point, you might want to wrap it up. Before you move on, make sure that you include some summary slides to stress the most important points or draw a conclusion.
Live polling is one of the key drivers that are pushing talks into the area of conversational presenting. But the technology is not enough. If we hope to leverage its full potential, we need to learn how to facilitate conversations that arise from the dynamic content co-creation that live polls enable. We hope that the techniques described above will help you turn your next talk into a resounding success.