Being able to engage with your participants is critical to the success of any workshop, but is especially important in an online setting where attention spans are shorter and distractions more enticing. Almost every major virtual meeting platform in the world comes with text chat and polling as standard features, making it possible to conduct Q&A and run polls and quizzes. However, using a dedicated Q&A and polling platform like Slido or Mentimeter alongside your virtual meeting platform can help you significantly boost the quality of your audience engagement. Here’s how.
What Are Q&A And Polling Platforms?
As their name suggests, Q&A and polling platforms are designed to help you do two things. First, these tools let you quickly and easily create, manage and conduct polls and quizzes during your workshop and share the results with your participants via an elegant-looking results page.
Second, they provide a space for participants to post questions anonymously throughout the workshop, as well as read and upvote their fellow participants’ questions, allowing you to easily track, manage, and address the most pressing questions from your audience.
Because these tools are web-based, your participants can access the polling and Q&A for your event on their computers, tablets or smartphones, and join the event by simply entering a meeting number or scanning a QR code.
Why Should I Use Q&A And Polling Platforms In My Online Workshop?
As an online workshop facilitator, you're probably already very familiar with the built-in polling and chat options offered by virtual meeting platforms such as Zoom, Teams and WebEx. So why would you want to use another external tool to manage your polling and Q&A? There are at least four reasons to consider.
1. They Make Audience Engagement Smoother
Dedicated Q&A and polling platforms provide smoother audience engagement by letting you do the following things:
Create Polls On The Spot
One of the keys to running an engaging online workshop is to make sure the event runs smoothly with quick and seamless transitions between activities. Setting up your polling questions in advance works just fine most of the time, but sometimes you find yourself wishing you could quickly throw together a spur of the moment poll and being disappointed at how slow and clunky it is to try to do that using tools like Zoom. This process is a whole lot quicker and more straightforward when using a dedicated polling platform, letting you run ad-hoc polls smoothly with a minimum of “dead air.”
Avoid Losing Questions In The Chat Box
Participants often prefer to type out their questions rather than voicing them in front of the group. Without a dedicated Q&A tool, they'll need to rely on the chat window of your virtual meeting platform, meaning that questions can easily get lost among all the other comments and interactions. Using a dedicated Q&A tool will not only help you keep track of the questions that need to be answered, but also send the clear message to your more introverted participants that you value their engagement and contributions to the discussion.
2. They Make Q&A Sessions More Productive
This is achieved by letting you do the following things:
Collect Questions Throughout The Workshop
Nobody likes the long awkward silence that comes after “does anyone have any questions?” By using a dedicated Q&A tool, you can let your participants submit their questions continuously during the workshop, and then address them all at once during scheduled Q&A breaks.
Address The Most Important Questions First
One of the most powerful features of a dedicated Q&A tool is the ability for participants to read the questions that have been submitted already and upvote the ones they are most interested in hearing the answers to. These upvoted questions float to the top of your list, making it easier for you to address your participants’ most important questions first.
3. You Can Review Your Polling Results After The Meeting
Dedicated polling platforms give you the ability to review the results of your polls after the meeting is over. This makes it easy to incorporate your polling results into your future presentation materials, analyze your polling results for fresh insights, compare your results to similar polls conducted across multiple different groups, and share your results with your participants in any post-workshop materials you plan to send out.
4. You Can Run Engaging Activities Using Word Clouds
Q&A and polling platforms are packed with additional functionality that let you run a wider variety of interactive activities. One of the most useful functions is the ability to quickly launch a word cloud. Whether you are using this in an icebreaker (such as by asking everyone to type in the name of the country they're joining from), to review the content you’ve been teaching, or as a lighthearted energizer, word clouds are a dynamic tool that encourages everyone’s participation.
What Q&A And Polling Platforms Are Available?
There are two “gold standard” Q&A and polling platforms on the market, both of which are excellent and have very similar pricing models:
Both Slido and Mentimeter offer a free Basic plan, but their offerings at this tier are a bit different. As of December 2020, Slido will let you create five polls and one quiz per event for free, whereas Mentimeter will let you create two question slides and five quizzes. Both platforms allow unlimited Q&A at the free tier, but restrict your ability to moderate the incoming questions.
Both platforms also offer a Professional plan for about USD$25 per month, which removes all limitations on questions and quizzes, and allows you to moderate your Q&A, add your own branding, and export your polling data.
Things To Consider
Q&A and polling platforms can add a lot of value to your online workshop experience, but before using one you will want to consider the following questions:
How Comfortable Is Your Audience With Technology?
Q&A and polling tools are designed to be as user-friendly and intuitive as possible, but at the end of the day, they are another piece of technology your participants will need to interact with during your session. It is helpful to consider whether your audience will be comfortable opening another tab in their browser to access the tool, or busting out their tablet or phone to scan the QR code displayed on their screen. Speaking of phones...
Do You Want To Encourage Participants To Use Their Phones?
As any online workshop facilitator knows first hand, smartphones are an enticing distraction for their participants (emails and texts and the web, oh my!). Q&A and polling platforms can be an interesting way to give your participants something useful and on-task to do on their phones, but may leave the door open for other distractions to pop up and steal their attention.
Polling is an important part of the online workshop experience - that’s why almost every major online meeting platform in the world offers some form of built-in polling feature. However, using a dedicated Q&A and polling platform like Slido or Mentimeter can help you significantly boost the quality of your audience engagement, as long as you feel your audience can handle using an additional tool during your workshop.
Book a demo with us today to learn everything you need to know to run game-changing online workshops on Seshboard!