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Audience polling has been around for a while, but it’s only recently that more and more organisations have understood its effectiveness in engaging attendees and improving the overall performance of an event. Yet getting polling right isn’t always easy. And many struggle on implementing polls that successfully engage attendees, increase participation and give organisers the insights they need.
We spoke to Sarah Hill, from Seven Events Ltd – a leading UK-based event management company – who shared with us five key approaches organisers should consider when using polls around in-person and virtual events:
1) Ask the Right Questions
Polling your audience is not only about making them feel heard but also about collecting actual data and feedback that you can use. Therefore, the success of using polls in conferences comes down to the value and information that the questions you end up asking can provide.
One of the most basic (but also most important) rules when putting together a list of questions is to keep things simple and straightforward if you want to actually obtain the answers that you’re looking for.
For starters, avoid combining multiple questions into one and spread them out – this way, you will get specific insights about each aspect you want an opinion on and will avoid getting generic answers that don’t provide value. You should also make sure to be as specific as possible and ask questions that encourage the attendees to elaborate or to pick an option that is the closest to how they feel.
Be very clear in your questions and use language and words that you know your audience will understand. The worst thing that could happen is people misunderstanding your questions and providing you with false data that you might interpret the wrong way.
And finally, be sure to use different types of questions to get a wide range of data and input. Most event management platforms and apps have multi-answer polling options, which are easier to answer quickly with a simple tap of a button.
However, if you want to hear what your attendees have to say, make sure that you also include open questions that can be answered in their own words, especially if you’re looking for specific guidance on what you could improve or what to implement in the future.
2) Use Visuals
When you ask attendees to fill out a form or a questionnaire, you need to be able to grab and keep their attention if you want them to follow through and provide you with insightful answers. Make sure that you make your questionnaire look professional, and don’t be afraid to use multiple visual tools to make them look more engaging and easier to understand.
There are also many visual displays that can help make your polls more convenient to view through apps or even via direct link, so make sure that you make it as easy for your guests to fill out the form if you want high participation.
And if you want to share the results with your audience, you should use brand elements, as well as visual charts and graphs to showcase the results and make your polls more engaging. But if you’re asking questions that can have negative connotations if the results go one way or another, be prepared to confront it and provide context so that you don’t hurt your brand image.
3) Incentivise Participation
Getting people to participate in your event polls is crucial. Still, with so much going on, a large part of the attendees might decide it’s just not worth their time, at least if you don’t take additional measures to increase participation.
The easiest way to do that is to add an incentive for those that decide to participate. Obviously, you can’t offer anything too big, as that would make it hard to fulfil your promise if the vast majority of people ended up answering the polls. But at the same time, you want to give a significant enough nudge that gets people to go to your link and participate.
A simple yet effective approach is to provide an exclusive offer or a discount to a product. This way, you might actually give a boost for your sales by cleverly disguising a promotion in the form of a reward. Alternatively, you could set up a prize and randomly select the winner or winners, adding another exciting activity to your conference and making everyone want to participate.
Related read: Virtual events – how to keep your attendees engaged
4) Quiz Your Audience
While the primary use for polls is to gauge interest and gain insights, sometimes it can be just as useful as a tool to drive engagement and make sure that your conference attendees are paying close attention.
Before a speech, you could announce that there will be a quiz at the end about the subject matter and promise a reward for those that get the most answers right. This way, without almost any effort, you can increase engagement tenfold and ensure that most of the attendees will be focused and absorbing all of the information throughout the speech.
The quiz can also be useful in showing you the weak areas in the presentation – if many people misunderstood or missed a critical point, that can show you that you should reconsider your approach and look for more effective ways to convey the information.
5) Gather and Use the Feedback
Finally, when you put together a poll and get people to participate, you are likely to learn a lot of useful info about what people were happy about, as well as what might need improvement.
As you know, it’s crucial to use the information as a basis when creating a future event. Otherwise, you will not only have wasted effort in collecting that data but will also upset the attendees that expected change after giving their feedback.
Your event is only as good as the data and experience that it accumulates, so make sure that you use the polling insights to the best of your ability and continue to ask the opinion of your attendees in the future.
Considering virtual events? Eventsforce VCD is a fully integrated virtual event platform that can support you with registration, live streaming, audience engagement tools, remote speaker management, networking and virtual sponsors and exhibitors. Book a demo or get in touch with the team to see how we can help!