How I Used Audience Response Pads at EMS Expo #EMSExpo

by on October 5, 2010

in Products

At EMS Expo I used audience response pads during my two presentations to interact with the audience. The set of audience response pads I used were shared with me by  John Dillon of C3Softworks. Using the Turning Point software, an add-on for PowerPoint, I was able to embed questions into slides. When the slide opened participants selected their answer using the audience response pads. As they selected an answer I clarified the question or added discussion relevant to the question. For example, when I asked what percentage of participants had high-speed internet access in their stations I defined high-speed as cable, DSL, satellite, or anything faster than dial-up.

Learn About Audience Demographics

It was helpful for me to know a bit of basic information about my audience. I asked them to select the primary role they play in EMS – field provider, supervisor, educator, vendor, or other. I also asked them about their years of experience in EMS. Each of my sessions had a mix of roles, but I was surprised and pleased that most of my audience participants had more than ten years of experience in EMS. I like to mix with audience members before the session to learn a few names, represented agencies, and find out individual motivations for attending or questions they hope to have answered. Anecdotal interactions plus the responses to demographic questions gave me a clear picture of who was in the room.

Assess the Opinions on Controversial Issues

I asked the audience to agree or disagree about different appropriate uses of social media. For example, I asked “Employees should be able to post pictures of vehicles or equipment on Facebook.” A show of hands is a rough way to estimate opinions, but it is not as precise as I wanted. The responses from the audience helps me determine if the topic that I expect might be controversial is indeed controversial. If most of the audience agrees with me, I have less to discuss.

Experience with Equipment, Techniques, or Processes

It was important for me to know the experience level of my audience regarding the creation of online education and social media. After asking, “Do you create e-learning programs?” and a large proportion of the audience said yes I was able to ask them specifically which types of content they produce. If most of the audience had said no it might not have been necessary to ask them what they create.

Re-Engage Attendees with Me

EMS Expo presentation sessions are seventy-five minutes. That is a long-time to present and even longer time to listen. I had audience response questions scattered throughout my slides. Answering a question cognitively and physically reconnects and re-engages the audience with me and the content I am presenting.

Have Some Fun without Wasting People’s Time

In each of my sessions I asked my audience a question with the intent of getting a laugh or at least a smile. During the Social Networking Session after a series of questions about appropriate uses of Social Networking and Social Media Sharing I asked, “Do you play Farmville?” The response choices were Yes, No, and Hell No. The display of the question and answers received a few chuckles and when I displayed the answers – an overwhelming majority of the audience answered “Hell no” there was even some clapping in the room. After this bit of brevity I refocused the audience on how they can adjust their Facebook settings to prevent the display of Farmville, Mafia Wars, and other social gaming updates. Many people were very appreciative of this information.

Lots of Uses

Have you used audience response pads in a conference presentation, training session, or classroom lecture? What techniques work well for you to use them effectively?

Learn More

To learn more about using games to teach and education gaming products visit


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