The word “televoting” has had its reputation ruined and now it would remind people of sad TV programs for housewives. But actually televoting it’s an ideal instrument for serious and innovative conventions…
It’s powerful, flexible and easy to use. One of the most important needs in the organization of meetings and convention is to make the “stage” and the “hall” interactive, both for entertainment and to communicate more efficaciously, making everything more interesting and involving. Everyday technology comes up with new devices that allow incredible interactivities, but there is an easy, flexible and incredibly powerful instrument that weirdly enough is not very used.
The Anglo-Saxons calls it “Audience Response“, we know it as “televoting“. An ugly name, but it’s too late for that… Whatever you want to call that, this “interactive technology” is a fantastic instrument to stimulate the creativity of the congress organizers (a lot of ideas come to mind!) and to attract the attention of the participants. Thanks to an individual box-shaped wireless device, basically a remote control, the participants in the hall can express their opinion choosing among a set of given possibilities. That’s all.
Easy but with almost endless applications. For example: you could project on a screen the possible answers to a question by the speaker, a “traffic light” opens the vote. On the side there will be a sign indicating how much time has passed and how many people voted. When the voting is closed the system processes the data in real time and projects the results on the screen with a graphic or the percentages. The opinion of the public can be discussed… on the spot.
The use of interactivity has many advantages: more participation (it’s fun), easiness in learning (help during the training), memory (involvement helps it), accountability and/or honesty (will the vote be open or anonymous?), more information (to listen and react to the public’s opinions) entertainment (quiz and games), data collection (surveys or questionnaires), audience evaluation (filter questions).
To ask questions during a working session gives you an immediate feedback on the response and learning of the audience, strengthens the results of a presentation and provides an effective way to start and orientate the discussion.
Try and imagine a corporate convention, maybe held for the sales department. It is a not-to-be-missed occasion that happens only once a year: in one single room I have gathered all my vendors, why not asking them some questions to get to know their opinions?
Using a combination of questions and showing interest for the answers, highlighting the different opinions, makes the contents comprehension easier and shows consideration to the participants. In a scientific congress, the speaker could ask some questions to the public before and after the presentation to have an idea about the level of the audience (before) and the effectiveness of the speech (after).
This system is used in the ECM system (Educazione Continua in Medicina: Continuous Medical Education), where instead of the old paper questionnaire you would use an electronic vote, thus obtaining in real time the tracking of attendance, the results of the tests and the allocation of the academic credits. And you can also save the individual answers. Advantages: time savings (filling out and correcting the questionnaires), paper savings (no stacks of photocopies), staff savings and, last but not least, money savings.
The potential of this instrument to immediately obtain important information is enormous, for example on the appreciation and effectiveness of a product, for a market analysis, for surveys about research and development. The range of possibilities for the application of this method is incredibly wide and the software development can help with a large number of technical needs.
It is possible to customize the sessions with ad hoc lay-out, to obtain animated graphics, to channel peripheral votes (teleconference) on a single central server, track the audience with graphics and coloured icons to point out the single voters and so on… But despite “how” I express my opinion, this technology is at the service of the “what”, multiplying the chances and offering a system that is both easy to use and attractive.
The “little box” can be the key element for the success of a congress, for its organization, for the quality of the exposition and mostly for the appreciation of the audience in the hall. It would be more elegant to call it “interactive poll”, but it’s already called “televoting”… shame, but the important is to be on the same page about that!