Imagine you are required to give a one-hour keynote talk to around 500 people at an International e-Learning Conference in Geneva, Switzerland. This is the biggest moment of your career. You are super nervous at the beginning of your talk, but you manage to capture the audience’s attention initially with a funny and relevant joke.
However, 15 minutes into your talk, you notice that a few people in the audience are actually sleeping, others are playing with their phones (probably Pokemon!), some are chatting, and even worse some are even leaving the hall. What went wrong?
ENGAGE & GAMIFY
Let’s face it, today with so many social media and online distractions on our mobile devices, our increasingly shorter attention span, and urge for instant gratification, we need to rethink how we give talks (and facilitate training).
Let’s now explore five awesome online tools, which we can use to engage both large and small audiences through their mobile phones, tablets or notebooks:
Interestingly, two of these online engagement tools are still totally FREE (Todaysmeet and Kahoot), while three have a free and commercial version (Padlet, Formative and Poll Everywhere). If you use these tools appropriately, you will have the opportunity to engage, have more fun, and transform your talks and training to another level without requiring much effort, except for a bit of practice, imagination and courage. Are you ready?
As all these five tools require you and the audience to have Internet access, it is crucial that the hall or training room has good Wi-Fi. Ideally, the Wi-Fi hotspot should be able to support the number of people attending your talk or workshop. However, to be on the safe side you can always connect your notebook (or tablet) to your own smartphone hotspot. If the Wi-Fi connection in the hall or training room is poor, you can still have fun using these tools, because today most people have their own smartphones and Internet packages, and these tools will not consume a lot of bandwidth when used.
Now, let’s explore the five recommended online engagement tools to get you started!
TodaysMeet is a great online backchannel tool to encourage discussions and Q&A sessions during lectures, talks, panel discussions, meetings, and so on. You can access TodaysMeet chatrooms with any kind of mobile device (browser-based), and it gives everyone a chance to participate at any time, and even the quietest ones will often be encouraged to express themselves.
It basically looks like a chatroom (view screenshot), and interestingly requires no account or password to create or join a chat session. Though, if you use Todaysmeet regularly, I would recommend creating an account (Free), so that you can get a few more useful features, and it will be easier to manage your past chat sessions, too.
Overall, It’s extremely easy to set-up a Todaysmeet session, and participants just need the link (URL), which you could share with them before you start your event. If you are using it for example during a conference talk, I would recommend that you run it using another projector and computer. As such, the speaker and participants can view the stream of questions, comments and thoughts live as they come through. Although, it could be distracting a bit, it usually encourages more participation by the audience, and the speaker can pick up without hassle some of the questions and reflections as he or she is presenting.
If you want to conduct live polls with the audience during an event, Poll Everywhere is a great alternative. It empowers you to ask both multiple-choice or text-answer questions. As participants answer through their mobile devices, live streaming of results can be viewed (projector/screen) within seconds.
This is a great way to engage and get everyone in a crowd to participate. Also, it has some awesome features to summarize visually text-answer questions, such as the Word Cloud (screenshot).
However, the free version is limited to 25 respondents per poll. Though, if you are planning to use it often for large events or talks, you should consider investing in the commercial version.
Padlet (wall) is a great online tool for ice-breaking, getting to know one another, brainstorming, collaborating and sharing ideas. Once the participants have the link to the Padlet wall, they simply need to double click anywhere on the digital wall (using any device) to add a posts. You can add images, files, videos, embed social media items (through embed scripts) and links. Everyone's activity can be seen on the wall instantly.
Personally, I always use it for getting to know the participants in a workshop or class better. For example, I would e-Mail the Padlet Wall link to all participants a week earlier, and request them nicely to say ‘Hi’ (with a picture of themselves), what they want to learn and share something interesting about themselves. So, even before the workshop starts, participants can get to know a bit about the other participants attending. Even better, I get to know more about them and what they expect to learn from the workshop.
Finally, you can spice up the backgrounds with all sorts of cool designs and images, and once the activity is done you can easily export your Padlet wall to PDF, Excel, or CSV formats with a single click.
If you want to run a quiz, or some form of assessment during a live session to a group of people through their mobile devices, Formative is simply amazing. You can test them with multiple choice questions, fill-in-the-blanks, short answers, and even ask them to draw or submit images. The results are displayed as they answer. Even better, you can even give customized online feedback to every single respondent (commercial version).
Kahoot is limited to only multiple choice questions, but it is the most powerful and fun tool to light up, excite and engage an audience to participate.
Usually, you prepare your Kahoot quiz game (e.g. 4-7 questions) before the training or talk. When the time is right during the live event, you launch your Kahoot. For participants to join, they simply need to go to the Kahoot join link (https://kahoot.it/), key in the 4-7 digit code (auto-generated), and then add their name to join. Once everyone has joined the Kahoot session, the facilitator starts the Kahoot game.
Kahoot adds to the excitement by using game mechanics, which include music, a countdown timer for each question, time-based point-system (more points for early answers), ranking, and so on. Participants usually love the fun, competition and drama that Kahoot empowers.
We have just explored five awesome online engagement tools, which you can use to engage and spice up your talks, meetings and training. My final recommendation is to encourage you to explore one tool at the time, and see how it goes. Just, make sure that you and the participants have good Internet access, and also have a backup plan with non-tech activities (flying paper planes, juggling 3 balls, etc.) should things go wrong.
For those of you who want to explore more tools to engage and gamify... CLICK HERE!
Finally, if you want to know more, including organizing specialized training workshops to train you and your team to use these tools (and much more) to engage and gamify learning to another level, please feel free to CONTACT ME.
All the best, and don’t forget to relax and have fun (like a kid), while exploring these online engagement tools :)