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September 24th, 2009

Researchers question the effectiveness of a ‘lecture-style’ business presentation. In fact, some have demonstrated that audiences in a “passive” role acquire and retain less. Other findings indicate that an audience member’s attention falls precipitously after 20-30 minutes, and the average participant’s knowledge retention is quite low.

Interactivity is the key to better knowledge retention. In fact, effective “active learning” encompasses multimedia components, discussion groups and teaching activities, all of which result from the use of a very powerful tool, an Audience Response System (ARS) from CRE.

Audience Response System (ARS) rentalWhether you are training company employees, making a conference presentation or testing product ideas with a focus group, an ARS will create an interactive, collaborative environment in which the “teacher” arguably learns as much as the “students”—and learns even more when all the responses are later tallied and analyzed. In fact, the “teacher role” is merged into each participant, which maximizes audience input and feedback. If you are going to be using an Audience Response System (ARS), these tips will help you make the most of it.

#1: Check the session location at least a day before the event. Not only do you need to get “the lay of the land,” you need to investigate possible logistical problems.  Is the room the right size? Will you need  extension cords for the base station power, your projection rental equipment, laptop, etc.

#2: Set up your ARS equipment at least an hour before start time (even the day before, if you have access to the location). Make sure everything is working right, and well before your audience begins arriving. Have our phone number handy in case you need more keypads or have a last-minute question or concern. It may make sense to get a laptop rental from CRE to have a backup of your presentation files.

#3: An ARS is fairly simple to operate but you may need some practice to familiarize yourself with how it works. You will also need to coordinate your timing for a glitch-free presentation, so practice your presentation beforehand, as many times as you can. A MicroTrack digital recorder rental is a great way to practice speeches and presentations. Hearing yourself speak is a powerful aid in refining your delivery.

#4: Give the audience members clear, concise directions. Tell them what is expected, and advise them that registering their response at the right time will ensure that it is properly recorded. Concise directions, both spoken and printed, should be given before the session to maximize the number of registered responses.

#5: Keep your questions short and sweet. This is important for several reasons, the first of which is screen legibility—the questions need to be read quickly and easily, even when you are also reading them aloud. If you make the questions too long or unnecessarily complex, your response rate will suffer and the pace of the presentation will be out of your control.

#6: Limit your answer options to four, if possible. When five or more options are displayed and/or read aloud, they can be difficult to read or remember, respectively. Be succinct. This is particularly important if you are making a small-group presentation on a table-mounted LCD or plasma screen rental.

#7: Don’t present your audience with too many questions, or too many in a row. Build some “relief” (comic or otherwise) into your presentation with non-text screen images, occasional pauses and discussion time (see #8, below). If the session becomes tedious you can expect your audience’s interest to wane.

#8: Among the biggest benefits of ARS sessions is the frank discussion that results from them. As the presentation proceeds, audience members get progressively more involved (that’s your goal, at any rate) and the discussion that ensues from the questions and answers gets progressively evolved. Always factor discussion time into your presentation plan.

Following this simple advice, as well as learning as much as you can about ARS technology in advance, will help you achieve the best results from your interactive presentation. There is no reason that large group polling sessions have to be dull, dry, lecture-hall experiences. Fill out a Quick Rental Quote form if you know what you need, or use our Contact Page to ask us whatever you need to know. Our friendly, expert Account Executives will gladly help you turn your next marketing test, training class or presentation into a truly interactive (even fun) experience for you and your audience.

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