May 8, 2018

Facilitating audience engagement is a top priority at educational meetings, allowing them to network between themselves as well as with your speakers and educators. Today, there are more resources than ever that allow for HCPs to create the kind of authentic peer-to-peer networking that drives value for the life sciences company as well as the participants.

The ubiquity of mobile technology — WiFi and smartphones, in particular — has made it especially easy to construct an environment where everyone can share their opinions and create meaningful dialogue.

Here are a few tools presenters and facilitators can use to achieve those ends, even if you don’t have a particularly tech-savvy audience base.

Throwable mics:

Get the ball rolling, so to speak, on a Q&A session with a “throwable mic.” They might look like toys, but these devices reimagine the usual wireless microphone that gets — often clumsily — passed around for audience feedback. Being able to toss the mic to the next participant who wants to make their voice heard is a fun way to foster engagement and keeps the exchange of ideas flowing. There are a few different versions: Catchbox is a soft cube with colorful covers that can be swapped out, while “Shark Tank” contender Qball is a foam ball that looks like a playground kickball; both are lightweight enough for even non-athletes to enjoy the interactivity.

SMS polling tools:

Technology that lets a presenter or facilitator survey HCPs in real time is a double win: It delivers benefits to the audience by increasing engagement, and it gives the organizer the opportunity to collect data that can be used to help determine program ROI. The premise is simple: Services like Poll Everywhere and Polldaddy let make setting up and conducting a poll in real time simple; either yes-or-no answers or write-in options can be accommodated, and the program can be integrated into presentation platforms like PowerPoint and Google Slides. Participants just need their phone to respond, which they can do via text or online — some even have the capability to collect responses via social media.

Slido is a web and app-based tool that also includes live audience polling, but it goes further than that, letting presenters or facilitators crowdsource questions, solicit feedback and engage in more free-form dialogue. This has the added advantage of drawing out even the more reticent audience members, since questions can be asked anonymously. Its dashboard can provide organizers and clients with a wealth of analytics — who’s engaging with you, and which keywords or conversation topics spark the most interest. Slido integrates with most presentation programs as well as social media and messaging platforms like Prezi, Twitter and Slack.

The best part about all of these tools is that they don’t make demands of your HCPs: They don’t have to create accounts, master new skills or jump over any of the other hurdles that can inhibit the adoption of other kinds of technological solutions, while still delivering to you high-tech solutions to age-old communication challenges.

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