Picking the Audience's Brain With ResponseCard Anywhere
Instant data taken directly from the audience can add a new level of interest to speeches and presentations. Turning Technologies ResponseCard Anywhere system provides an easy-to-install and easy-to-use system for finding out exactly what members of the audience think, writes reviewer Jack Germain.
08/26/08 4:00 AM PT
Anyone looking to make a decent presentation, speech or lecture in front of an audience needs the ability to perceive, judge and play off viewers' reactions. Sometimes that can be done just by keeping one's ears open. (Are your jokes bombing? Then perhaps stop trying to be funny and just get to the point.)
In other circumstances, though, the presenter wants hard numbers. The audience must be polled to find out exactly how many people like or dislike a certain idea, what their top choice of a given set of options would be, or which of a given set of responses they most agree with. When that happens, one can either break out the paper and pencils for a drawn-out voting process, or one can turn to technology.
Turning Technologies' audience response system brings a new dimension to polling responses. It can add additional life to a presentation and make gathering opinions from workers or visitors at a meeting quick and simple.
The ResponseCard AnyWhere is a handheld receiver for presenters with an LCD screen. It's about the size of a deck of cards. The system also includes participant transmitter cards, each about as big as a few credit cards stacked together. Both units work without an AC power source.
This system puts instant audience response capabilities into the hands of presenters without a bank of high-tech equipment. For anyone who has to gather participant input, the ResponseCard AnyWhere system offers features not found in other audience polling systems. Perhaps its best feature is the ability to take it anywhere without a staff of technical experts to make it work.
How It Works
With the press of a button, presenters can carry out a comprehensive audience poll. The most typical users are teachers, trainers and meeting moderators. Just ask a question of the group and press one button on the radio frequency (RF) receiver to open polling.
Audience members respond to the question via ResponseCard RF keypads, selecting from up to 10 multiple choice options presented with the question. The handheld receiver tabulates and displays the results via the LCD screen as soon as the user closes polling.
The RF receiver has a range of up to 400 feet and holds the polling responses in its memory for later analysis. If the presenter has a computer available, the receiver unit can plug into the USB port for analyzing results using the companion software.
The beauty of the process is that the ResponseCard AnyWhere system can generate results on the spot for large screen display through a projector, if desired. Depending on the purpose of the group, the system can be used for interactive discussions or traditional data gathering.
The ResponseCard AnyWhere wireless receiver measures 4.5 x 2.4 x 0.875 inches. It has six buttons and stores up to 5,000 votes or 100 polls. Its display controls resemble a DVD remote control.
The Response Card RF measures 3.25 x 2.25 x 0.25 inches. Its face has four rows of three buttons labeled with numbers and letters such as 1/A. The button row includes Login/GO and question mark buttons.
Two AAA batteries are sufficient to power a unit for more than 80 hours of operation. This is enough juice to last for over 21,000 15-second polls.
The ResponseCard AnyWhere system supports up to 250 ResponseCard RF keypads and offers 82 separate RF channels. This provides dozens of different sessions to be conducted in close proximity without confusion. The presenter matches the response units to the receiver device by matching the selected frequency through the menu options viewed on the LCD.
Users can configure their ResponseCard AnyWhere system to meet audiences from a half-dozen to 250. The ResponseCard AnyWhere is also available as a rental option, ideal for conference breakout sessions or short-term use.
Responses to multiple questions and sessions can be wirelessly stored in each ResponseCard AnyWhere receiver. One very useful feature with this system is the ability to have more than a few responses to each question.
Some presenters may never need more than three or four multiple choice options. But much more comprehensive polling can be done with a total of 10 responses available for some or all questions.
Working the Buttons
On the receiver unit, the buttons are arranged in a circular pattern. Four arrow keys provide up, down, left and right navigational commands to the LCD screen. This allows the presenter to move through the questions without having to check extraneous notes.
The center button accesses the menu options and confirms the selection. A Display on/off button is situated in the upper right edge of the front surface.
Using the sending unit, audience participants only have to press the button indicating their multiple choice response -- either a number or a letter -- by pressing the appropriate button.
The ResponseCard AnyWhere receiver is US$299. This price does not include the purchase of ResponseCard RF keypads. The ResponseCard RF keypads cost $69 each. Government, GSA and volume pricing is available.
Rental pricing is based on the number of users. The first day is $5 per person. Additional days tally at a reduced cost. In addition, an event fee costs $495. The rental fees include software and receiver unit.
A Trial Run
I put the ResponseCard AnyWhere system through its paces during a recent seminar I conducted for high-schoolers on a topic about subliminal messages in media outlets. I built in an audience polling section to incorporate a round of responses without using a show-of-hands strategy or a fill-in-the-card approach.
Because I only had five sending units to play with, I had to poll the audience of 35 students in seven mini-sessions in one room while the rest of the attendees completed another phase of the seminar. Despite that logistical inconvenience, the electronic polling clearly added a level of high-tech professionalism to the seminar. That reaction especially impressed me because my presentation was filled with lots of large screen displays in a lecture hall.
Conducting training sessions and doing group surveys at focus sessions is old hat to me. However, the ease of preparing questions and responses using the software made my adapted presentation much easier and effective. Being able to share the polling results with the audience before the seminar ended was a really cool way to wrap up the presentation.
The real benefit to using the ResponseCard AnyWhere system comes from the convenience of the easy setup and follow-up. Other polling devices require much more overhead in terms of cost, training, preparation and equipment. Turning Technologies' flexible, portable method really gives presenters an out-of-the-box solution.