Adding in an interactive element to a large meeting or event can add a more personal touch. Audience polling equipment is designed to give each member of an audience the ability to provide the organizer with their opinion regarding certain aspects or questions regarding the subject of the gathering. It can be used to vote for a winner in a competition, or it can be used to gauge the feeling for a large group of investors in a business meeting. While many will initially think of the large applause-o-meters commonly found on television sitcoms and game shows, the technology involved with modern audience polling equipment is very stream-lined, easy to set up, and even easier to use and calculate results from.
Audience response equipment normally comes in several pieces, with each piece essential for the operation of the system.
- Computer – Some kind of computer is needed, and with advanced laptops and netbooks, audience polling software can be quickly moved in and out of a meeting room.
- Remote Hand Set – Each audience member who is meant to have their opinion counted will need to have an operational remote handset for them to keep on their person. Most resemble a mix of an old calculator and a TV remote control. The only buttons on most of these remotes is a numeric keypad. All will need to be charged (most use and on-board power source) for each individual member.
- Reception Box – This hooks into the computer via a USB port and is designed to receive the remote signal from each remote. Once the information has been received, it is then sent into the computer for analysis.
- Software – There is software designed to display the visual aspect of the polling and to record and tally the result of the audience polling. Once the software is installed, presentations can be created focusing on the audience’s participation, and at certain times during the event, the audience will be allowed to press a button and vote, which is then tallied and calculated through the program.
- Visual Projector – If there is a visual aspect to the event, then a projector or similar visual display will be needed to display it. Most of these can run directly off of the computer.
There are two distinct ways to get audience polling equipment, renting and buying. Renting the equipment is common if it is only going to be used once or twice, but owning audience polling equipment will give new options for future meetings. If purchasing a machine of this style, there are certain things that need to be understood. Is the machine’s software compatible with all operating systems, and will it comes with customer support? While many of the computer programs that are designed for this purpose can be easily used, more advanced programs will require more detailed instructions for their use, especially with advanced features. Another major aspect are the remote controls. How many will you get, what kind of range do they have, and how do they charge? Granted, most people will not need too many, but it is hard to get the response from 100 audience members if there are only 20 remotes. Plus, if they have a low range, those on the outer edge of the meeting may not be able to register their responses. Also, batteries are expensive, so make sure the audience response system comes with internal batteries and a recharger.
The standard audience response system will run between $500 and $1,500, and will come with all the equipment needed, outside of extra remotes. Most standard packages come with in between 30 and 50 handsets. With the cost of equipment rental, if you use the machine more than three times, buying is the better options. Rental companies offering audience polling equipment tend to charge very high rates for use of the equipment.
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