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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

Our top 5 meeting trends for 2017

Our 5 top meeting trends for


Only 20 days into the new year and we’ve all hit the ground running. Strategies, budgets, venues, design, catering, meeting content – it’s all systems go.

Amid the craziness, we’ve picked our top 5 2017 meeting trends for you. These could be real game changers in your planning.

  1. Content is no longer king. It’s all about context.

Naturally content is critical but without providing your attendees the understanding of what your content means to them in their environment it is likely to be tossed aside.

Michael Dominguez, Chief Sales Officer, MGM Resorts International says “Content is not king today—it’s all about context. I don’t need the meeting to learn what I need to find out. I need the meeting today to tell me what it means to me and how I’m going to implement it. Attendees need more white space so people can have conversations about what they’re learning.”

  1. Creating certainty in uncertain times.

Holly Duckworth, CEO of Leadership Solutions International says “Meetings must create certainty in these uncertain times.” She advises a shift away from meetings being a deluge of information to a two-way idea exchange and allowing time to process that information exchange.

This two-way exchange of information can be facilitated in various ways, Audience Response Systems remain one of the most engaging and reliable options. With constant innovation in this technology providing different response options and more comprehensive reporting it is at the forefront of meeting technologies.

  1. Understanding the Attendee Journey

Only when we truly understand how our attendees journey through and experience our events, are we able to create meaningful meetings with a lasting impact.

“Leveraging technology to improve attendee engagement and drive strategy through data capture will be key for 2017,” says Cate Banfield, director of event solution design, BCD Meetings & Events

Mobile Event Aps continue to gain traction in SA and are proving to be an invaluable tool to attendees, organisers and sponsors who use them.

  1. Experiential meetings

Attendees need to be captivated by our events. They’ve all been there, done that and got the T-shirt. They’re looking for something new, something fresh. There’s a real need to look beyond the lecture theatre style meeting room to more innovative meeting spaces which allow people the freedom to decide how they engage with your content.

Providing hands on experiential sessions gives attendees the knowledge, context and experience to take your content into their environments and use it to make a difference. We would never question the effectiveness of learning to drive in a car with a qualified driving instructor vs. a theoretical presentation about driving and yet this is our go to option for most meetings. We need to immerse people in our content and engage with them meaningfully.

  1. Social media trends that you can’t ignore

The communications role that social media plays in events continues to grow. The introduction of live streaming opens new ways to be creative with our use of social media. Facebook Live, Instagram Stories and even Snapchat are increasing the reach of our events more than ever before.


Here’s to a year of engaging and innovative meetings. We look forward to sharing the journey with you.

Our top 5 meeting trends for 20172019-06-20T14:59:02+02:00

Interactive Meetings – Why should I?

The Challenge

With the ever changing meeting and conference environment, from meeting in a boardroom or large conference venue to web meetings and conference calls, it has always been difficult to ascertain the effectiveness and worth of your meetings. You can easily end up spending a fortune to gather people but often end up unable to assess their retention and understanding.

The Solution

TurningPoint, our favourite Audience Response System, offers you a solution to these problems in the form of an interactive voting device. With this audience response system you will be able to:

  • accurately measure the two-way communication between the speaker and audience
  • effectively assess the outcome of your meeting
  • gather detailed relevant data from your audience

Cutting edge technology and the durable TurningPoint ResponseCard allows the audience to choose from a predefined list of up to 10 answer options per question, with no limitation to the amount of questions to be asked. TurningPoint can be used in a variety of different question formats such as Surveys, risk workshops, game shows, formal and informal assessments, content understanding and many more, both in the corporate and education environments.

The simple to use technology doesn’t require technical know how from the audience. Instead attendees simply press a button on the ResponseCard to submit their answer option. This allows the audience to focus more on the questions and their understanding of the content being presented. TurningPoint is integrated into PowerPoint, allowing the facilitator of the presentation to decide where in their presentation they would like to incorporate questions.

Our audience response technology has been used in hundreds of events around the world. On average 82 keypads are used on a rental basis in meetings or events in South Africa every day. These events range from financial, medical/pharmaceutical, HR and training environments to educational institutions.

Overall the question is not “Why should I use Audience Response in my next meeting?”, but rather “Why haven’t I been using this Audience Response System to help me get the full potential out of my meetings until now?”.

If you would like to find out more about our products and service offering why not give us a call on 086 110 6365 or drop us a line at

Interactive Meetings – Why should I?2016-12-14T15:30:53+02:00

Deliberating the future of Education in Africa with Student Response Technology

Deliberating the future of Education in Africa with Student Response Technology

Participate Technologies were proud to sponsor the recent Distance Education and Teacher Education in Africa (DETA) Conference held at the Mauritius Institute of Education, Réduit, Mauritius 20 -24 July 2015.

David Wilson introducing the clickers for the first time at DETA 2015

David Wilson introducing the clickers for the first time at DETA 2015

The sixth of its kind, the conference was formed to offer a unique platform for educationalists to share knowledge and deliberate on educational issues. This year’s theme was exploring the role educationists could play in creating “The Future We Want” for education on our continent Africa.

The conference was attended by over 170 delegates from 24 different countries which made it the largest yet and we were privilege to be a part of it. For many of the participants this was their first exposure to audience response technology (commonly referred to as clickers in education).

The delegates’ experience of voting in the audience with their handheld clickers and seeing the live results displayed on the screens created somewhat of a spectacle. Many “oohh’s and aahh’s” could be heard from the auditorium as the participants enjoyed the gratifying experience of seeing their response choice displayed on the screen comparing it against what their peers had chosen as responses.

Using the clickers to ask questions of the audience during the keynote session transformed the passive one-direction communication of the presentations into an active two-way participative and engaging experience.The display of many responses were met with delight when consistent majority votes came showing unison in thinking around certain issues.

A polarised response displayed from the audience indicating  a clear difference in opinion from the audience

A polarised response displayed from the audience indicating a clear difference in opinion from the audience

On occasion perceptions were changed as the audience vote was met with surprise as the responses displayed a different reality, presenting polarisation in thinking around certain issues thus concluding there is much work still to be done in addressing the challenges that the African continent faces in education.

The subthemes of the conference were;
1. Teaching children in diverse African contexts
2. Pedagogies that will achieve “The Future We Want” for education in Africa
3. The role and impact of technology on teacher development
4. Quality in education as a prerequisite to establish “The Future We Want” for education in Africa
Learn more about the conference by visiting the official website

For more information about how clickers are being used in South African universities click here to view the student response system information pack.

You can also watch the presentation delivered by Professor Jan Verschoor on how teaching with clickers improves your ability to teach large classes.

This article was originally posted as a press release on IT Web.

Deliberating the future of Education in Africa with Student Response Technology2016-12-14T15:30:54+02:00