Event management at its core is all about people. A good audience response system can thus be central to a good event- but how can you tell if yours is a good one?

Audience response systems (ARS’s) have been around for as long as event management has existed – perhaps even longer. And if you work in event management, they’re something you should familiarize yourself with. Used properly, they can be powerful tools for engagement, and provide you with valuable information about how people are interacting with your event.

Thing is, ARS’s are hard to get right. Traditionally part of a keynote presentation or a lecture, they can often end up feeling boring, stilted, or pointless. They involve a Q&A session between a presenter and an audience, and little else.

And that’s a problem – there’s something missing from most. Several things, actually. And that’s what we’re here to talk about today.

Here are three critical elements every audience response system needs – elements that may well be missing from yours.

Get Engaged: Social ARS

I will be blunt – if your audience wanted to participate in a survey, there are plenty of places they can go for that online. In this day and age, rolling out an audience response system that’s nothing but a boring multiple choice question is unacceptable. You need to implement things in such a way that it directly encourages the audience to participate in your event.

“Traditional ARS could only collect anonymous attendee answers” writes cadmiumCD’s Michael Doane. “The speaker asked a question, the audience picked an answer, the results were shown, and the speaker said, “As I expected!” or “Huh, not the typical answer.” Then the presentation just moved along. A social ARS collects the results and lets attendees engage with each other and the presenter.”

“They can either ask speakers questions by raising their hands, or by typing a question into the ARS directly,” he continues.  

Going Mobile: Smartphone/Tablet Support

Old audience response systems generally used clickers – handheld devices that strongly resemble a pared-down remote control. These days, such tools are really showing their age. Especially when compared to modern smartphones, they look and feel downright archaic.

These days, everyone is carrying what amounts to a computer in their pocket. Allowing them to pull those devices out while they watch a keynote is a great way to pull them in and engage them. An app like mQlicker is a must here.

More Than Multiple Choice: Better Interactivity

Last but not least, let’s expand on our first point a bit. As I’ve already mentioned, you should be taking steps to make your audience response system more interactive. That means doing more than just letting the audience react and talk to the speaker. It means allowing the presentation to actually change based on how the audience responds.

To that end, a good audience response platform shouldn’t exist in isolation – it should be built into the event platform or app you’re already using at your conference or show. It should use the same profile an attendee uses to access show floor content for responses.

Not only does this allow you to see who’s responding to your questions, it also ensures a better overall experience for everyone – yourself included.

Building Better Responses

Audience response systems are often an essential component of a good keynote. However, they need to be properly-implemented in order to be used effectively. Follow the advice here, and you can ensure yours is – and that you gain better, more interactive, more informative responses as a result.

Author Bio: Brad Wayland is the Chief Strategy Officer at BlueCotton, a site with high-quality, easy-to-design custom t-shirts.