Institutions have long employed lectures as the typical way of teaching, with the assumption that they are an efficient method of imparting great amounts of information to large groups of participants. Recent research, however, rejects the effectiveness of standard lecture formats on participant understanding and knowledge retention. When the audience takes a purely passive role, their attention falls off after 20 to 30 minutes with most people incapable of recalling more than three facts from an hour long lecture.
Using audience response technology improves lectures by promoting more efficient acquisition and retention of knowledge through active learning.
The following tips will make your interactive audience response sessions run smoother:
Tip 1: Keep questions short to improve legibility
Keep your question stem and answer options short and simple so that the audience can read them easily and respond quickly.
Tip 2: Have five (or less) options for answer choices
If more than five options are displayed to read. Also, when results are displayed, they become cluttered and difficult to interpret.
Tip 3: Ask simple questions
Do not make your questions too complex. If you give your audience too much text and expect them to read it, digest it and make a quick decision, either the response rate will decrease due to the difficulty of the task, or the presentation will slow down a lot to allow time to provide meaningful answers to the questions. Neither of these situations is ideal – the purpose of using audience response systems is to create a non-threatening environment which encourages the participation of all audience members, and for the session to be active and fun.
Tip 4: Allow time for discussion
Once the presentation is underway the audience quickly becomes involved and a great deal of discussion evolves as their responses to the questions are displayed. When preparing your presentation, therefore, you must plan time for such discussion.
Tip 5: Don’t inundate participants with too many questions
Use questions sparingly to highlight the points you most want participants to retain. Vary your presentation with other slides. Giving your audience with a series of one question after another becomes tedious and their enthusiasm will diminish.
Tip 6: Inspect your meeting location ahead of time in order to identify any potential technical problems
There are some technical issues to bear in mind with regard to venue. For example, certain types of lighting can interfere with the signals of infra-red (IR) handsets and receivers. Radio-frequency (RF) units may have trouble if the range between base stations and keypads is too far, or if separate interactive presentations are held simultaneously in adjoining rooms. It is therefore advisable to test the system in the proposed venue so that any such problems can be identified and rectified before the polling session begins.
Tip 7: Set up and test the system prior to the start of the meeting
It takes some time to connect the various hardware and lay out the handsets – depending on the size of meeting room and audience. Allow plenty of time to set up the system and ensure all the components are working before your audience arrives, and plan for some extra time to resolve any issues that may unexpectedly surface during the setup process.
Tip 8: Practice your presentation to ensure that it will run smoothly
interactive group response systems are simple to use but require initial practice to get familiar with them and to co-ordinate the timing for a smooth-running presentation. Practice your presentation several times, especially the first few times that you use the audience response system technology, until you are confident with it.
Tip 9: Give clear directions to your audience
Inform your audience on what is expected of them. Unless they register their response at the correct time, their response will not be recorded. Clear directions should be provided before the session begins in order that the maximum number of valid responses to each question is registered.
Tip 10: Encourage active discussion
One of the most beneficial features of interactive polling sessions!presentations is the sincere discussion that results from the audience polling format. The anonymous nature of the responses creates an informal, non-threatening environment, which encourages spontaneous debate between the audience and presenter.
Adhering to the above practical advice will help you achieve the benefits of interactive group response systems, which can turn large group polling meetings into a truly interactive – and fun – experience for both you and your audience.
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