In today’s multitasking environment where event participants are regularly on their mobile devices, presenters and meeting planners are often faced with several dilemmas:
How do you capture your audience’s attention?
How do you keep attendees engaged?
How can you best measure their interests and engagement during a presentation?
An excellent solution for these issues is second screen technology. This is an area with lots of options and varying degrees of capability and costs. This article will cover several options with a close look at specific features, costs and analytics capabilities.
What is Second Screen Technology for Events?
The first screen at an event is the stage, presenter and the presentation screen. The second screens are mobile devices (typically dedicated tablets or users’ smartphones) that are used by the audience members to see and interact with the presentation content. This usually requires a second screen app that can provide some or all of the following features:
- Slide sharing where audience members can see, save and annotate the presentation slides on their individual second screens
- Polling and surveys
- Text-based Q&A with audience up-voting (other audience members can see questions and vote them to be answered first)
- Games and quizzes
- Analytics that can gauge individual and collective audience participants’ level of engagement, specific slides of interest and, in some cases, much more
Second screen technology can keep audience members engaged while providing lots of useful data on attendee interest levels, questions, and learning achieved.
Below are a number of second screen event tools divided into three categories:
Second Screen Technology Categories
- Second screen technology as a service option
- Stand-alone second screen apps
- Event app-based second screen technology
1. Second screen technology as a service option:
On the high end, there are a few companies that provide second screen technology as a service. Typically, they will provide the engagement platform, all the hardware (tablets/mobile display devices and wireless network), and the setup and onsite support for all attendees.
The key benefits of these event technologies are:
- Rock solid networking that does not rely on venue wi-fi: This often is more reliable and can be substantially more secure than hotel/venue wi-fi systems.
- Standardization and ease of use: All the participants need to do is sit down and everything is set and ready to go. Everyone is working on the same type of device and the applications are very intuitive to use. Every audience member is included which would not be the case if the system relied upon participants using their own smartphones.
- Tablet computers offer larger, easier-to-read screens as opposed to relying on attendees’ smartphones with smaller screens.
- Branding: These systems can be branded with the event host’s logo and colors.
- Advanced analytics: If the event hosts’ goals are to get responses for everyone in the room and to get very detailed analytics about their interests, responses, questions and engagement level, this is where these products shine.
Due to the equipment and labor provided, these services are more expensive than an app alone, but in many cases, are well worth the cost. Two large players in the space include Sync by Freeman and Educational Measures:
Educational Measures (EM) positions their Array® product as an “all-in-one audience engagement and analytics platform.” They provide the on-site set-up, support, hardware (including iPad tablets), and technical infrastructure for networking capabilities with their second screen technology service.
Features include slide sharing, polling, attendee annotation and slide saving. Meeting participants can rate all slides and content individually, take notes with a stylus or keyboard, participate in surveys/simulations/contests, ask and answer questions, dialogue with the presenter/presentation team, capture/save all slides/selected resources, and continue the dialogue after the live meeting.
EM is a highly secure system. IWPA2 encryption is used with its wireless network. The system is compliant with SOC 2 standards for safety and security and is fully GDPR-compliant.
This product provides very detailed analytics, tracking attendees who ask questions through the system, how they respond to polls, what specific slides were saved and what notes were taken. It gives very detailed analytics of participant engagement measured minute-by-minute throughout the presentation. Meeting stakeholders can understand detailed audience response to content as it is presented. They can dialogue with the audience in real-time and compare meeting impacts across multiple meetings or events.
In addition to the above services, EM supports virtual and hybrid meetings on almost any tablet, smartphone or computer allowing the engagement of virtual and live audiences in one application with the same analytic capabilities listed above. The ability to record and stream live video is also available.
The improvement figures claimed compared to conference apps are impressive: 95% of participants improve knowledge, 92% increased engagement, 70% boost in response rates, and 52% more data captured.
Fees range between $50-$250 per person, per event and are based on the number of days and users.
2. Stand-alone second screen apps:
There are also individual second screen apps, often times web-based with no download required, for participants using their smartphones or other connected devices. Two examples include MeetingPulse and Glisser:
Glisser is an inexpensive second screen option for events. The real-time screen sharing works by the presenter uploading a PowerPoint, Keynote, Google Slides or other presentation program to the Glisser portal. The system allows for animations, transition and embedded video. In addition, the product provides for digital Q&A, live polling, interactive quizzes, twitter feeds, audience note-taking and analytics. Attendees access it through a web app with a custom short web address (no download required). Good quality wi-fi access for attendees is required for the system to work properly.
The app can be custom branded with color, background images, and more. Data security includes ISO 27001 Grade Data Security and is GDPR complaint.
Analytics include number of users, engagement level, percentage of attendees asking questions, percentage of attendees responding to polls, number of posts to social media channels. The names and email addresses of participants can optionally be captured as well.
All of the above features are included for free. More features, including custom branding, Q&A moderation, live slide tweeting, event agenda, multiple rooms, full PowerPoint integration, full account management and more for a full-day event is about $700.
3. Event app-based second screen technology:
There are more than 100 event app companies that provide a “Swiss Army knife” array of features for event attendees to download to their smartphones. However, only a few of them provide second screen capabilities. Event Pilot by ATIV and Evenium ConnexMe are two that do:
ConnexMe provides web-based slide distribution, digital note-taking on the slides for many presentation tools (PowerPoint, Keynote, PDFs, Prezi). There is no need to upload slides in advance, no special hardware, and no software plug-ins. There are multiple audience response polling options (ranking polls, word clouds for open questions, quizzes, pie/bar charts for single or multiple-choice answers and session evaluations). Additionally, there are many engagement tools such as audience-generated heat maps in response to polls, presenter and attendee annotation of slides, the ability for speakers to advance the slides using his/her smartphone or tablet.
The system provides text-based Q&A with audience upvoting raising the questions with the most votes to the top. Presenters can push questions to the screen one at a time full-screen, show them as banners, or as a question wall. Questions can be moderated, sorted and filtered. Questions from Twitter can also be incorporated. Photos can also be sent by participants for view on the screen.
The presentation can also be recorded and live streamed with slides within the system.
Good quality wi-fi access for attendees is required for the interactive components to work well.
However, in addition, it is part of an overall event app which includes agendas, push notifications, private messaging to other attendees, session evaluations and event analytics.
ConnexMe provides native apps (both iOS and Android) as well as HTML5 with web applications for the interactive features.
A single event license starts at $999, but with the full range of features for up to 1,000 participants and premium support include is $2,000.
Annual fees with unlimited events start at $4,800-9,600.
Bottom line, event participants are using their smartphones in meeting rooms. The products listed above can help focus your audience. They can turn what could be a distraction into actions that engage participants in your meeting content and even increase learning. These products also provide significant insights into attendee interests and engagement.
Corbin Ball, CMP, CSP, DES, MS is a speaker and independent third-party consultant focusing on meetings technology. With 20 years of experience running international citywide technology meetings, he now helps clients worldwide use technology to save time and improve productivity He can be contacted at his extensive web site Corbin Ball & Co. - Meetings Technology Headquarters (www.corbinball.com) and followed at www.twitter.com/corbinball.