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About David Wilson

Husband, Father, Event Professional, Presentoligist and Problem Solver passionate about life, people, education, and South Africa. Currently busy overseeing participate.co.za and working on another 2 start ups. I live in a wonderful city called Johannesburg and am blessed to be surrounded by family and friends who I love.

Harness the Energy of a Good Coffee Break at your Next Conference

Harness the Energy of a Good Coffee Break at your Next Conference

We collate a number of event survey reports. You may be surprised at how many traditional conferences the coffee break is voted the best part!

On the odd occasion the coffee is just that good! More likely though, it’s that the delegates have the freedom to chat and converse about what interests them that they enjoy the coffee breaks that much more.

Achieve better engagement by moving past standard presentations and rethinking content delivery.

Harness the value of unexpected coffee conversations and invite your delegates to create a participant driven agenda. This can be done for with the full meeting or just a section of the program depending on the objectives of your meeting.

The concept of ‘un-conference’ has been around for some time. In short this methodology allows participants to decide discussion topics, the highlighted speakers and the sessions offered.

Want to give it a try? Here are 6 quick tips:

1 Pre-plan: 

Send out polls and surveys allowing participant to vote on topics, speakers and sessions. Based on the results then form the agenda.

2 Focus on facilitation: 

Appoint strong facilitators to assist in fleshing out questions, comments and conversations.

3 Reward contribution: 

Offering incentives for contribution will increase the number of participants who contribute.

4 Embrace debate and accept disagreement: 

Unless you do this, you will limit delegates willingness to contribute.

5 Provide group note taking: 

Make use of the right technology to record the activities, presentations and actionables. Consider online wikis or shareable digital documents such as Google Docs.

6 Allow space for the unknown: 

create space for flexibility and the unexpected, sometimes this is where the greatest ideas come from.

Why do this?

  • You will tap into the power of your people! Some of the best ideas never make it to the surface because we are not given an opportunity to share them.
  • Allowing your audience to participate in the creation of the agenda will increase learning, engagement and ownership. Delegates who participate more actively in the creation process will have higher levels of retention and contributing to the process create will a natural sense of ownership.

Other great ideas:

  • Use a fun game to break the ice: Start by giving participants an opportunity to let loose and get their minds to wander. Try a “snowball fight”. Provide paper and pens and ask the participants to reflect on a topic or idea, write it down, and then add their name to it. Once they are done, everyone can ball up their piece of paper and start a snowball fight! Spit the room into two halves, have one side throw first, get them to pair up with whoever picked up their snowball, and allow some discussion of the topic or idea. Afterwards, repeat the process with the second group.
  • Consider a ‘facilitator on the floor’ idea. During workshop-style sessions, appoint a strong facilitator to walk the floor with a microphone and continually engage with participants. This works best when participants are seated at tables. It  will improve interaction and engagement.
  • End your program with a time for reflection. Give time for the audience to determine the most resonating points of the day, and then let them submit their own responses and collectively vote for and prioritise them. This is a great way to have your audience actively participate in summarising the day’s activities. An Event App or wireless keypad will do this well.

Here are some helpful posts about un-conferencing you may enjoy reading:

How to run a great unconference session.

How to Run an Un-Conference.

At Participate we offer several technologies that will support various aspects of ‘un-conferencing’, if you are interested contact us and we’d be happy to share our experience and expertise with you.

Harness the Energy of a Good Coffee Break at your Next Conference2019-06-20T14:20:22+02:00

Calculating Event Return on Investment

Calculating Event Return on Investment

Creating great events begins with clear event objectives.

The challenge – how do we measure this?

As an event planner, understanding the strategic value of an event and how to measure its return on investment (ROI), will set you apart and position you as more than just an event planner.

If your event is set up exclusively for sales, it may be as simple as income less expenditure. But there is so much more to ROI than just profit. Measuring profit alone may overemphasise the value of money and overlook many of the actual factors that made it successful.

True success in events is measured by its ability to generate more value for the organisation than what was spent on it.

There are many more metrics to consider if you want an event that will grow year by year. In today’s digital age analytics are no longer a nice to have but expected. Guess work can be eliminated when using the right technology. For example,  event apps offer a number of detailed analytics which can be used for reporting.  You can measure progress in real-time.

Start by considering each stage of the event:

“True success in events is measured by its ability to generate more value for the organisation than what was spent on it.”

– David Wilson

1 Pre-Event

Here you need to create demand and effectively promote your event. Using the right technology normally a combination of registration software, email CRM and your website you will generate the data you need to measure your effectiveness.

2 At the Event

After profit, engagement is the next most important metric. The experience you create for your delegates is what they are left with and what they will speak about long after your event is over, great engagement makes great events. Ask your clients what is important to them, make sure you have mechanisms in place at the event that capture the data you need.

3 Post-Event

This is where you will consolidate the data from the various tools you have used and create a clear picture of all your efforts with an event report for your client and hopefully meaningful data you can reference in planning your next event.

Calculating your success you need the right metric and the right technology.

It requires some planning and the discipline to do it.

Here is a list of common event objects that you are welcome to refer to when planning your next event:

  • Achieve a profit
  • Close sales
  • Build awareness
  • Gather leads
  • Market research
  • Influence brand perception
  • Launch a product
  • Recruit new partners, distributors or employees
  • Build and retain customer relationships

Then to assist further here are some metrics you can consider using to measure your efforts:

Primary Objective Associated Metric for Measurement Tool or Mechanism
Achieve a profit
  • Calculate Return on Investment ratio,
  • Expense vs Sales ratio
Accounting Software, Ticket Sales Software
  • Number of sales closed,
  • Number of purchase orders signed,
  • Number of new customers signed
Order Book, CRM Software, Event App
  • Number of Invitation emails opened,
  • Number of delegates attended,
  • Pre-post survey questions that measure awareness levels before and after,
  • Number of mentions in the press
CRM Software, Event App, Audience Response Technology, Social Media Monitoring, Printed Media
Gather leads
  • Number of qualified leads,
  • Or the cost per qualified lead
Event App, Audience Response, Registration Software, QR Codes
Market research
  • The number of surveys completed
Event App, Audience Response
Influence brand perception
  • Pre-post survey questions,
  • Number of customer appointments scheduled,
  • Increased revenue from existing customers
Experiential Marketing, Event App, Audio Visual effects, Social Media Monitoring
Product Launch
  • Number of products ordered,
  • Number of press mentions,
  • Number of qualified leads,
  • Number of meeting requests
CRM Software, Event App, Self-reporting from Sales Reps
Recruit new partners, distributors or employees
  • Number of recruits, Cost per recruit
CRM Software, Self-reporting
Build and retain customer relationships
  • Number of customer appointments scheduled,
  • Sales from existing customers
CRM Software, Self-reporting

If you need help measuring your event ROI or want to learn more about how to do so and what technology to do it with, reach out to us.

We’ll be happy to help with a complimentary in-person consultation.

Calculating Event Return on Investment2019-06-20T14:21:05+02:00

Clickers or mobile? Or should you use both?

Clickers or Mobile? Should we use both? 

Statistic show for 2017, the number of smartphone users in South Africa is estimated to reach 18.48 million and is expected to reach over 25 million by 2022. According to the Pew Research Center, 94% of adults in the United States ages 18 to 29 own a smartphone.

It is not surprising, then, that the debate over allowing students to use phones and other types of electronic devices in the classroom is as passionate as ever.

Interestingly though just last year, a New York Times op-ed encouraging instructors to completely ban laptops and other electronic devices during lessons provoked numerous spirited responses ranging from enthusiastic agreement to vehement opposition. A study recently published in Educational Psychology asserting that in-class cell phone use results in lower test scores has prompted similar reactions.

Over the years Turning Technologies has partnered with instructors whose opinions on this topic span the entire spectrum. Those experiences taught us an important lesson: A response solution that offers both clickers and mobile responding options serves the needs of everyone in ways that mobile-only systems cannot.

Lesson 1 Learnt – Build a System to Accommodate Both

Turning Technologies has considered what they’ve learnt partnering with instructors whose opinions support both arguments when creating the new TurningPoint 8. The requirement was a response solution that offers both clickers and mobile options while serving the needs of everyone in ways that mobile-only systems cannot.

Lesson 2: Suprise, the Demand for Clickers Remains!

So far in 2017, Turning Technologies analysis of its TurningPoint 8 users show some interesting results.

  • 74% of TurningPoint sessions used only clickers
  • 15% used only mobile
  • 11% were hybrid (both mobile and clickers).

This means that instructors used clickers in 85% of their sessions.

Despite the continuing growth in mobile usage, the data shows that most instructors are still more comfortable with clickers or prefer to offer students the option of using clickers.  Accordingly, usage of response technology will be higher at institutions that support both clicker and mobile environments.

ResponseCard RF LCD Keypad

An Advocate for Clickers 

Meshagae Hunte-Brown, a teaching professor at Drexel University, uses TurningPoint to facilitate not only engagement, but also frequent testing in her large biology classes. This allows her to test students every week, rather than only a few times every semester.

Hunte-Brown does not let students respond with web-enabled devices, and instead requires them to purchase one of our full-featured clickers.

“There are mobile options, which I no longer use because I can’t have a student on a cell phone during a test,” she said. “Now I have the security of this device that allows for automated grading, but also really cuts down on opportunities to cheat.”


An Advocate for Mobile

On the other end of the spectrum, Jim Mitroka, an associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences at Palm Beach Atlantic University, elected to use a fully mobile solution in his classes. This choice was primarily a matter of convenience, since students at the university’s Gregory School of Pharmacy already have tablets available to them.

Mitroka was less concerned with high-stakes testing, and more focused on engaging students in his classes with active learning approaches like the flipped classroom model.

As he puts it, “Getting students engaged is the problem that is solved by using TurningPoint student polling.”

An Advocate for Both

Finally, some instructors choose to empower the students themselves to decide which response option is best for them. Senior Lecturer in Music and Director of Learning and Teaching in the School of Arts at the University of Surrey Christopher Wiley, for example, always offers students the choice of using either the TurningPoint app or a clicker simply because “with the higher student fees, students cannot always be expected to own a smartphone.”

How do I choose?

You should consider a number of factors when deciding whether to use mobile devices, clickers or both.

  • IT infrastructure: First, consider the IT infrastructure where you will be running your polling sessions. Can the Wi-Fi network reliably handle simultaneous responses from hundreds of students? If not, clickers may be the way to go.
  • Affordability: Cost is another significant factor to consider. As an initial step, standardizing on one response system acceptable to all instructors is the best way to save students money so students do not have to purchase multiple subscriptions or clickers.
  • Access to web-enabled devices: Beyond that, do all of your students have smartphones or laptops? If not and you are interested in a mobile-only solution, do you have a plan to supply web-enabled devices to those students?
  • Faculty opinions: Finally, faculty opinions should be weighed carefully. If everyone agrees on using mobile devices or clickers, the choice is easy. If there are opposing views, then a hybrid option is an effective way to decrease conflict and increase usage, whether for simple engagement or high-stakes testing.

At the end of the day, every organization’s situation is unique, and its administrators and faculty members have to decide which response option is best for them. Clients are not shy about telling us what they want, and we have heard you loud and clear: A response system should not limit your choices, but instead provide the flexibility to support you and your organization’s needs, both today and into the future

Chat to us today we are already working with 14 universities in South Africa, we want to see you succeed.

The original article was published by Turning Technologies and is available to read here.

Clickers or mobile? Or should you use both?2018-09-13T15:52:04+02:00

The Secret Weapons of an Event Organiser

Do you have the Event Organiser Secret Weapon?

Whether you are an experienced event organiser or just starting out as an event professional I don’t need to tell you how many moving parts there are when it comes to successfully orchestrating large-scale conference or events.

Simply put the best events I have been involved with share the following core ingredients:

  • An dynamic and passionate team of orgainsers
  • Knowledgeable and experienced service providers
  • A fantastic venue
  • An investment in the right technologies

Most event organisers have all been there, doing everything on your own, juggling too many balls, eventually dropping one or all of them resulting in failure, unhappy customers and disappointed audiences.

Is technology enabling or disabling you? Could it become your secret weapon?

Just over a decade ago I identified that we could help. We could provide technology that could become the event organisers side-kick, their secret weapon. Our company uses technology to relieve some of the greatest challenges events face and allow organisers to focus on what matters most, creating those amazing events.

Having serviced thousands of events across 12 countries with hundreds of customers and walking alongside many event professionals we have learnt a lot about what works and what doesn’t at events.

Some food for thought around typical challenges faced by every event organiser.

Delight your Audience with Real Engagement

So, the event starts, uh oh, your speaker is dull, now what? Your audience begins fidgeting and looking at their phones, they are bored, can you do something? In the words of Obama, Yes you can! Avoid this situation by using the right technology.
Make dull speakers seem brighter and great speakers rock stars using technology. Connect them with their audience using audience response technology or an event app. Change the one directional monologue into an engaging multi-directional conversation, it’ll make a HUGE difference, I promise!

Most people fear public speaking, roving mics are only really used by the small minority who are comfortable to do so. Consequently, you lose many potentially valuable insights and conversations. There are better other ways to create engagement.

Live Polls to the Rescue

The standard modus operandi in a presentation is for a speaker to ask questions and then three or four roving mics dart around. What if you could level the playing field and make participation fun?

How about inviting everyone anonymously to participate and answer questions where their responses are instantly displayed? Using an event app or wireless handheld devices your whole audience can respond in real-time, compare their answers, reflect on the experience and perhaps even start debates.

Real-time Comments and Questions for the Win

What about those who don’t have the confidence to ask the speaker questions directly? Using the ‘ask a question’ function in an event app can help. Using it the whole audience can pose questions and comments anonymously. The really cool feature of this is the option to ‘up vote’ your favourite comment or questions. This creates a really dynamic experience for everyone! By voting the audience organically prioritises what they feel is most important and the speaker can then address the actual most burning issues rather than assuming what’s important or unknown to them.

The Million Dollar Questions

How was your response rate to the last event survey you created? You’re lucky if you got 30% of the audience to actually complete are return the survey forms. Beyond that, someone still has to collect them all and begin the time consuming and costly exercise of data capturing, collating and building a report. Some don’t even bother as the required effort outweighs the value. With an event app, you can have active surveys running all the time, you’ll find some participants will complete them whilst exploring the event app on their own. You can also use automated direct notifications or emails with direct links to the surveys, this will increase your completion rate because it’s effortless and easy to do. Even better you can incentivise the completion of the feedback with surprise giveaways or run a competition for those who complete the surveys.

Give the Event Life before its Begins and long after it Ends

Have you ever calculated the cost of your event per hour? It’s a sure way to raise your blood pressure and anxiety! When you use an event app you automatically extend the longevity of your event. Firstly, you begin communicating way before it starts. Develop your pre-event strategy, communicate and publish what’s most important and be sure to track open rated and page views. Once you send out the first communication everyone installs your event app, effectively placing your brand on every participants personal device. How’s that for exposure!

Post event the event app remains on everyone’s device as a point of reference and a great resource. It becomes a digital directory of all who attended, photos of newly made acquaintances and business prospects. It contains the presentation content, records of conversations, photos and shared memories of the experience.

Your Event Ninja, One Stop Solution and Secret Weapon!

The Event App isn’t purely to engage with an audience and collate data, it’s far more useful for you as an event organizer. Think of it as your program on steroids with a truly interactive functionality, a mobile information kiosk customised for each person that fits in their pocket that makes everything easier, it is your ninja sidekick, your secret weapon!

Let’s look at some key benefits:

1. Event Registration and RSVPs are all efficiently managed digitally with integration into the event app, from the moment you first connect with your audience you can already start measuring their interaction with your meeting and driving behaviours.

2. Digital Agenda, Speaker Bios, Maps and all pertinent Event Information is conveniently accessible on everyone’s personal device. No more delegates desperately looking for the event organiser to ask them questions, they just consult the info kiosk in their pocket!

3. It’s good for the environment. No need for those expensive printed programs! For just about the same print budget you can have an Event App! The horror of a last-minute changes are eliminated, no more printing inserts, just update the Event App and send out a notification!

4. Gamification. Use a strategy that taps into some of the core drivers of our human behaviour that revolve around status, achievement, and rewards. Create games that help you achieve event objectives. Use the event app to draw attention to certain sets of information or content. Create games and competitions based on the need of the particular client such as scavenger hunts, quizzes and networking activities which promote communication amongst delegates. Download our Ultimate Guide to Gamification here to learn more.

5. Communication. Delegates can use the app to connect with other delegates, join chat rooms to discuss topical issues and participate in live polls, ask speakers questions, answer surveys and read material ahead of time at their leisure. Event alerts notify guests of any important information when they need to know it.

6. Your Digital Business Card. It becomes a digital business card for them and everybody else who’s there, just like a phone book but now with photos! After the event, you can continue conversations, with the ability to direct message participants and speakers.


If you are in the business of planning events, there is no better assistant than a reliable piece of technology to keep track of all these moving parts. It becomes your one-stop-list where every single piece of the puzzle is collated and allows you to put together the memorable and flawless events your clients crave!

Chat to us today to be your technology partner to great events.

This article was first posted here and titled ‘ The Secret Weapons of an Event Organiser’

The Secret Weapons of an Event Organiser2018-09-11T17:42:26+02:00

Student wish list 2018

Student wish list 2018

As we start wrapping up a long year, papers are set and students are writing exams it is the best time to focus on the year ahead and the Impact you can make on your students of 2018.

Students of today thrive on engagement 

Students are online most of the time and the best way to learn is to get involved alongside them. Even the shyest of students, want some level of participation. We offer a technology that will facilitate this process in your classroom.

Teaching by reading from a text book or writing some words on a board are methods from before the industrial revolution and your class will soon deflect their attention to their mobile screens for more inspiration.

Get instant feedback on the material being shared, get students to engage with each other and the lecturer, using the latest in Student Response Technology (commonly referred to as clickers).

Students want a voice in the class, 80% of what we retain in our minds is what we’ve experienced in class.

Using clickers you’re able to immerse your students and create a collaborative learning environment, one that students are craving. They can be used for individual work or in group activities.

Teaching with clickers, Lecturers are more agile in their teaching methods, as they’re able to accurately and immediately gauge student understanding of the topics being discussed whilst tracking individual performance and keeping the whole class engaged.

Make 2018, the year your students get their wish.
Involve them don’t just teach them.

Chat to us today and we can assist you in delivering truly engaging lessons in your classroom.

Student wish list 20182017-11-21T17:38:18+02:00

7 Tips To Make Sure Your Event Doesn’t Suck

7 Tips to Make Sure your Event Doesn’t Suck

No event organiser wants the only memory of their event to be the food, unless it’s a food event that is. What we all want is a memorable event that delegates continue to talk about long after its finished and if the event is repeated that they all come back for more.

Based on our experience in supplying over 1,000 events with our services, we’ve summarised seven key tips on creating memorable and valuable events that will keep your delegates coming back:

1. Answer the 4 ‘W’s – Why, What, Who, Where and When?

Many events fail because they are created based on a ‘wonderful idea’ without much thought as to a purpose. Without a clearly defined purpose, objective or a clear business reason you will be doomed for failure.

Consider the type of event that will best achieve your objective and engage with your audience.

Who is your audience and what will appeal most to them? Where do they live and how will they access your event?

Where and when?
Location, location, location! Research shows most declined RSVPs are due to an inconvenient date, time and location. Be sure to select a location that is easy to access and will meet the physical and technological requirements for your event, have a ‘plan B’ in the event of any unforeseen circumstances.

2. Planning – say what?

Pay sufficient attention to planning! Plan ahead and create a timeline from start to finish. Your plan should include budgets, logistics, content and promotion. Identify and manage your risks and where possible account for any unexpected situations that may arise in your budget.

Use the cloud! There are numerous online collaboration tools, many free, where you can create and share all the resources linked to your event. This way you can collaborate with your team, delegate tasks effectively and ensure everyone is always up to date.

3. Metrics, Metrics, Metrics, did I say Metrics?

The devil is in the details! If you want to evaluate, you must first measure. The fundamental metrics that should be tracked are: budget, performance, return on investment, and client satisfaction. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback.

4. Engagement, no seriously they need it!

‘Tell me and I forget.  Teach me and I remember.  Involve me and I learn.’

– Benjamin Franklin

If your event has no plan for engagement don’t bother having it. Engagement is no longer a nice to have but rather an imperative and your delegates will expect it. Allow time for meaningful networking. Participate Technologies are experts in audience engagement, Contact us today to explore the best ways for you to engage with your audience.

5. Content is not king. QUALITY CONTENT is!

In a shallow world of distraction and vast amounts of data, your key differentiator should be the value you offer. Be sure to research your content well, find the best professionals to share their knowledge and secure them well in advance.

6. Calm Down! Chill out…

It may sound silly, but it is essential. Try to be one step ahead; something will not go according to plan and you need to be ready for that. A fit of panic or rage is not going to help the situation and only add more stress. If you are able to stay calm you can respond and think clearly, rather than react irrationally. You thereby minimise the impact of the crisis and your delegates and stakeholders will be none the wiser to the mishap.

7. COMMUNICATE! Yep it’s that simple.

Make sure delegates can get the information they need – when they need it. If potential delegates have a question, you want to make it easy for them to get the answers they need quickly or even immediately, before they forget their question or move onto the next one.

An Event App is a fantastic way to ensure everyone has the information they require, which will make the event organisers life a lot easier! The Participate Event App can guide delegates to the venue, provide any necessary details, as well as host the agenda and information about speakers. They can manage their catering preferences, earmark speakers and use the app to facilitate great networking opportunities with other delegates.

In Summary

Ensuring that your delegates keep talking about your event brings the audience and speaker closer together and guarantees a better experience for all concerned.  Keeping delegates in touch with the content on the day and engaging with them in real time is truly beneficial to your business and to them personally.

Participate Technologies has found a way accomplish this, using innovative technology.

Post event, all material used or presented can be digitally delivered to delegates, creating an opportunity for delegates to engage with each other and speakers to encourage cooperation and develop new business opportunities.

Chat to us today to be your technology partner to great events.

7 Tips To Make Sure Your Event Doesn’t Suck2018-09-11T13:21:20+02:00

What Students Want

What a student wants

The ONE thing every student wants from their lecturer

Technology is embedded in a Millennials daily life and often treated as an extension of their bodies. It makes sense then, that technology would play a vital part in their learning habits. The traditional methods of training are no longer effective for millennials, in fact we don’t even think they would know what an over-head projector was.

The truth about Millennials:

Learner attention spans are shorter, lecturers are completing with Facebook, Snap chats and messages from friends. The ideal learning environment involves less lecture time but demands more collaboration with peers. Using an authentic assessments and group project work are ideal for Millennials. This group of learners have been raised in a less authoritative environment, where decisions and actions have been constantly justified. Learners thrive on personal relationships and they expect the older generation to show more interest in their lives and not just teach. Millennials are experts at multitasking so their learning environment should enable this.

Engagement is what they want. Millennials want to be taught, not lectured. They crave participation, not parrot fashion learning.

In many of the classrooms and lecture halls we have observed the unfortunate reality of a massive disconnect remains between the teacher and student in the classroom.

One of the best technologies we have seen addressing the lack of engagement is Student Response Technology (commonly referred to as clickers).

Using clickers lecturers can engage, measure and create a collaborative learning environment where millennials will actively participate, learn and thrive.

Student Response Technology is a stimulating and affordable technology that allows all students to participate equally whether they are confident or shy in class contributing in a fun yet measurable fashion. Students can use clickers for individual work and participate in group activities. Consequently, lecturers can be more agile in their teaching, accurately and immediately gauging student understanding of the topics being discussed whilst tracking individual performance and keeping the whole class engaged.

Let us help you change the four walls of your classroom into an engaging environment that promotes learning and sharing. Complete the below and we will get in touch

What Students Want2017-09-11T16:33:10+02:00

Do you scare your clients with event technology

How to Scare Away Clients with Event Technology

We regularly read the Event Manager Blog along with over 11000 others event industry folk from around the world. Reading this post we figured we had to repost it as it really is solid advice our clients could benefit from.

The post How to Scare Away Clients with Event Technology by Editorial Team appeared first on http://www.EventManagerBlog.com

Being on the cutting edge of technology gives you a leg up on the competition, unless it’s scaring your event clients.

Technology should be a tool, not a tyrant.

According to market research company Frost & Sullivan, event technology can increase event attendance by 20%, decrease costs by 20-30%, and increase productivity by 27%. Those numbers can make a big difference in your budget and be well worth the technology investment. However, these numbers only pan out if your clients, and attendees, embrace the new #eventtech. If not, your new technology can cost you more than just it’s going price.

Know Your Audience

Before embracing, or introducing, any new technology to your clients – know your audience. This includes your client and the attendees of their event. Ask yourself:

  • What drives them?
  • What are they looking to accomplish through their event and by attending the event?
  • How old are they? What do they do for a living?
  • Where do they fall on thetechnology adoption scale?
  • Who will train them to use it?
  • What benefit does the adoption of this technology bring them?
  • Do you need to share the technology with them or is it something just for you?

The last question is very important because often there is technology you use as an event planner to increase your efficiency. If you use technology that you love, is it necessary that your client use it too? What are the benefits of doing so? Does it outweigh the hesitancy they might have in embracing it?

After you’ve done your research and decided to push forward in sharing it with your client here are a few things to be aware of to keep them from running.

Things about Tech that Scare Most Clients

Change isn’t easy for anyone but if you have clients that are tech phobic, being sensitive to these most common concerns can help you convince them the technology is exactly what they need to be more productive and grow their event.

Too Many Moving Parts

Seamlessly integrated tech is one thing. Tech that requires a lot of jury-rigging and manipulation, gives everyone pause. If you make sure your new tech integrates nicely with some of the other things they currently use, they’ll be more apt to get on board.

It’s Too New for You

Convincing someone to use technology is easier to do if you are a power user. If you have a proven track record of successful uses and implementations, and data to back up your claims about the benefits of the eventtech, clients will trust you. If, on the other hand, you “heard” it was “cool,” and have never used it, most clients won’t want to be your test subjects.

It Didn’t Work When You Unveiled It

If you unveil technology in the hopes a client will embrace it and it goes wonky, you better have a backup plan or a joke, like Bill Gates had when the “blue screen of death” appeared during an unveiling of Windows 98.

They Don’t See the Connection Between Your Technology and Their Needs

You never want to adopt technology for technology’s sake. There aren’t any event planner gold stars for who has the earliest adoption. Sure, it can set you apart from your competition but only if they trust in it. To trust in it, they must first trust in you and then understand the business reason behind adopting it. The business reason should never be your portfolio, at least not as it’s understood by the client.

You Seem Hesitant

You must be confident in your presentation of the technology. You’ll present why you like it; why it works well for them, their needs, and their event; and what problem it solves for them (not you). If at any time when you are talking about these points, you seem hesitant, or you answer one of their questions with, “Well, let’s just see if this works. It’s bound to be better than what we have.”, you’ll scare your client. Confidence is beguiling. Hesitancy is halting.

It’s Very Expensive

Expense in itself is not a deal breaker, but expense without return, or expense and a murky return is unacceptable to most businesses, even those with deep pockets. Whenever possible, share projections of how they will see a return on investment.

You Don’t Know Your Client

It’s important to know who you are pitching to because this often brings up its own set of cautions. For instance, in a 2009 report conducted by the AARP and Microsoft, they found Boomers expect technology to:

  • Be safe and easy to use
  • Work the way they do (they don’t want to recreate established processes for the way the technology works)
  • Give them ways to connect
  • Not take the place of other forms of engagement. (This is important to know if you think putting in technology between you and the client is a good way to cut down on those long status calls, you may come to realize they want both.)
  • Be a tool but not a tyrant. Boomers have no desire to become dependent on the technology. Keep that out of your sales pitch.
  • Do your research so you know how to present your tech with a personalized approach.

It Does Too Many Things They Don’t Need

When you are presenting the possible tech, don’t show them everything. Show them only what they need and what will help solve their challenges. After all, if you don’t like coffee, you won’t care that the new technology can make you the perfect cup in under a minute.

They Already Feel Overwhelmed

If you’re asking them to learn yet another platform, you’ll automatically have people running, especially those whose current workload seems unsurmountable. Make sure they know what you’re asking and you’re clear with them about the amount of time it will take on their part. Being honest upfront will help allay fears and avoid feelings of being misled.

In Conclusion

Change and the unknown are two of the scariest concepts for adults and embracing new technology calls on them to face both. While there are a lot of self-help gurus talking about facing fears these days, it’s difficult to persuade a client that this concept also covers technology adoption. But with a personalized approach and tying the technology into their goals for their event, you’ll be able to help them see why the new tech is a boon, not a bust.

Do you scare your clients with event technology2019-06-20T14:38:24+02:00

Get the most from your Audience Response System (clickers).

Part 2 – Get the most from  your Student Response System (clickers).

If you missed the first part of this article you can read it here

This article covers some of what I believe to be the fundamental principles to gaining the most out of using a clicker (or audience response/ student response system) system in class.

There are 4 steps we refer too:

  1. Establish objectives for your lecture.
  2. Determine the context for interactive slides.
  3. Create the questions.
  4. Integrate questions into your lecture.

In the first blog post I covered the establishing objectives and determining context for your interactive polling questions.

This post covers the remaining 2 steps, creating questions and integrating them into you presentation and lecture.

I’d also recommend reaching out to other lectures you may know at your university who have taught or teaching with clicker for their advice, they may have some great tips from their experience at your institution. Having said that now that you have set your objectives and contexts (the occasion/s at which you plan to ask the questions) we can address creating your interactive slides.

Creating clicker questions for class

The below is a compilation of suggestions found in books, articles and interviews with different lectures teaching different subjects across the world:

Do not make questions overly complex.

Keep questions short to optimize clarity. Most studies suggest offering no more than five answer options. Avoid requiring lots of complex calculations that may encourage students to guess rather than think through the question. 6

Simplify your sentences and questions.

A question should be easy to read and understand in a short period of time. Questions that have too many unnecessary words may create confusion, slow down the pace of the class, and produce unreliable results. Most educators agree that clicker questions should never display more than 25 to 30 words. 6

Keep slides easy to see and uncluttered.

Don’t get distracted by all the different objects, backgrounds, and graphics you can place into a slide or presentation.  Using too many of these objects and graphics can create confusion, distraction, and even difficulty reading the slide. Use only the objects that are necessary for students to understand the question and for you to feel comfortable with the results. 1

Include extra answer options.

Consider adding a “Not Sure” or “Abstain” option to True/ False, multiple choice, or even discussion generating questions. This will add interest and increase the percentage of students who respond to the question, as well as give you an idea of how many students may not truly understand the topic. 1

Enhance questions with images.

Images can add an important dimension to a question, and offer the class another point of reference in selecting a response. Turning Point has a capability that will even allow you to use images as possible answers.

Survey opinions and feelings.

Offer questions that do not necessarily have right or wrong answers. Likert questions, for example, can provide an important outlet for a class to express opinions about controversial topics. Students also like to see how their opinions compare to the rest of the class. These questions generate great class discussions.

Intersperse questions throughout your presentation.

Students enjoy having the opportunity to provide input, and can provide you with valuable feedback as to how they are absorbing the material. Therefore, if you place questions strategically throughout your lecture, instead of lumped together at the end, you can not only keep the class engaged, but also gather the information necessary to see where a class might start going astray. 1

Use a “warm-up” question.

Insert a question at the beginning of class, to “warm-up” the students. This allows them to get situated, and to quickly focus on class material, during the time that they might usually sit idle or socialize.

Connect question topics together.

Questions are often effective when logically linked together with the solution to the previous question. This helps to promote continuity and dialogue with the class. 1

Pose questions with no clear answer.

A University of Massachusetts study suggests, ‘There is less need for rigor when questions are low risk. Questions may include deliberate (or accidental) mistakes, be ill-posed, invalid, or ambiguous. E.G. a multiple-choice question, for which only one selection is required, may have more than one correct choice, no correct choices, or choices that are only partially correct. These “unsound” questions may provoke discussion and support better.” 2

Consider delaying the answer choices.

Questions may be better delivered in “hidden” mode, in which answer choices are delayed until after the question has been attempted or discussed. For example, if a student can verify the correct choice by working backwards, it is appropriate to hide the possibilities until an answer has been worked out. You can do this by using custom animations on your answers, and setting them to appear after the question. 1

Try asking questions more than once. (A modification on Peer Instruction)

Ask a question, show the results but not the correct answer, and ask students to discuss with neighbours or in groups, then re-poll the question with TurningPoint. This will allow the class to reconsider the answer, as well as see how that changed the responses. 5

Let your audience know what is going on within the slide.

Increase responsiveness by adding a “Correct Answer” indicator to visually identify the appropriate answer, and/or a “Countdown Timer” which will close polling after a set amount of time. 7

Integrating your interactive (polling) questions into your presentation


Just as there are many strategies for creating questions, there are multiple approaches to integrating questions into a lecture. Below are suggestions, but be creative and use methods that work well for you!

Use a question cycle to develop a plan for lecture.

Ask a question via Turning Point, then allow students group discussion and answer time. After the students respond, show the chart and use it to generate class discussion, this time asking for reasoning. Based on ideas generated during discussion, you can follow up with general observations, a brief micro-lecture, perhaps another related TurningPoint question, or any necessary materials for closing, as well as final responses. Be sure to allow time for discussion when planning your lesson. 2

Ask demographic questions to allow for more in depth analysis.

Assign demographics to track how specific student groups respond. For example, looking at basic results, you can see that 75% of students understood the material. However, by viewing responses grouped by demographics, you may find that 75% were all subject majors and that non-majors were confused, allowing the opportunity to change the way you may explain the material

Allow the students to steer the lecture.

Modify your lecture in real-time, based on the students’ responses. Use on-the-fly slides or conditional branching to allow for various answers. See more from Derek Bruff on Agile learning.

Create slides and questions to add to regular discussion.

Use your slides to emphasize a theme, incident, or character that is important to the day’s lecture. Include students in the discussion of the results.

Use for review.

Studies show that students benefit most with a combination of review questions and opinion questions. Try asking review questions that cover similar material and ask questions similar to what will be covered on the test. This helps to develop the students’ processing skills, as well as familiarity with material.

Ask a question to create the discussion for the day.

Try asking a controversial question (or just a question the students will have varied and strong opinions about), and use the results to create the day’s class discussion.

Use for participation or attendance.

Assign point values to answers instead of simply setting them as right or wrong and award attendance and/or participation points.

Create competitions and teams for review or discussion.

Add a competitive element by tracking individual teams, groups, or students with Turning Point. You can then view individual or team scores from your session, or even see who answered the fastest by adding a “Fastest Responder” slide to your presentation. 7

Additional Considerations


Provide clear instruction to the class.

Make sure everyone understands the process and how to use the technology. This may require extra time during the first couple uses. Be sure to allow time for instructions when planning your lesson. 4

Test everything ahead of time.

Check out the classroom location in order to identify any potential technical problems. Allow plenty of time to set up and test the system before class. Rehearse the question presentation to ensure that it will run smoothly. 4

Do not over use the system.

Ask questions sparingly to highlight the concepts you most want to emphasize. Think carefully about the main points of a lecture and create questions to target them. 4

Allot extra time for your presentations.

Question slides take time to ask, as well as to answer. Allow enough time in your lesson for interactive questions and student discussion (if applicable), especially if the students are working in teams. 4

Resources and references

  1. Banks, David. Audience Response Systems in Higher Education: Applications and Cases. Information Science Publishing: Hershey, PA. 2006.
  2. Beatty, lan D., William J. Gerace, William J. Leonard, and Robert J. Dufresne. Designing Effective Questions for Classroom Response System Teaching. University of Massachusetts. Retrieved on October 23, 2006. http://umperq.physics.umass.edu/library/Beatty2006deq/download
  3. Columbia University Effective Use of the Audience Response System: A Primer. Centre for Education Research and Development. Retrieved on October 23, 2006. http://Iibrary.cpmc.columbia.edu/cere/web/facultyDevIARShandout2004tipsheet.pdf
  4. The Ohio State University Clickers in Practice. Technology Enhanced Learning & Research. Retrieved on October 23, 2006. http://telr.osu.edu/clickers/teachinq/index.htmnq/bestpractices.cfm
  5. Peterson, Geoffrey D. To Click or Not To Click: The Impact of Student Response Systems on Political Science Courses. University of Wisconsin Eau Claire. Retrieved on March 5, 2007. http://www.apsanet.orq/tlc2007 / TLC07Peterson.pdf
  6. Robertson, Lorraine J. (2000) Twelve Tips for using a computerized interactive audience response system. Medical Teacher, 22 (3), 237-239. Retrieved March 5, 2007. http://cidd.mansfield.ohiostate.edu/workshops/documentation/twelvetips.pdf
  7. Turning Technologies, LLC Best Practices Retrieved on October 23, 2006. http://www.turninqtechnologies.com/hiqhereducationinteractivelea rninq/bestpractices.cfm
Get the most from your Audience Response System (clickers).2019-06-20T14:40:05+02:00