July 23, 2023

What is an Audience Response System

Web-based audience response systems have swept aside traditional in-person methods of soliciting audience feedback. While this technology is hardly new (after all electronic voting with keypads has been around for decades), many organizations have been slow to adopt the online solution which is faster and more accurate than outdated and inefficient engagement strategies like call-outs and paper and pen feedback.

In this article, you'll learn what web-based audience response systems (ARS) are, how they work, and how they can make your organization more efficient and productive across your organizational stakeholders by conducting safe and secure polling sessions for voting, training, education, and sales and marketing engagement efforts online, in-person, or hybrid. Continue reading to learn how you can integrate online audience response systems like VPOLL into your meetings.

What is an audience response system?

Audience response systems let speakers and audience members  interact in real time by getting immediate results to questions that are asked to the audience members and the results can be presented in a variety of easy-to-understand visual charts and reports.

There are a few platforms that provide audience response technology.  Traditionally, audience response systems used wired or wireless handheld devices, also known as keypads or clickers. And while keypads are still used today, there has been an evolution over the last several years towards downloadable and online, web-based apps to record answers to questions, polls, and quizzes. Results from these questions can be displayed on a  projection screen, and/or the audience’s devices, allowing for real-time sharing of the results in a format chosen by the meeting organizers.

What are audience response system features?

Many audience response systems have similar features:

  1. They can be accessed using wireless keypads or mobile devices: ARS typically use wireless keypads or mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, or laptops to allow audience members to respond to questions or polls.
  2. They allow for real-time feedback: ARS provides real-time feedback to the presenter or facilitator, allowing them to see how many people have responded and how they have responded.
  3. You can customize questions and surveys: ARS systems allow presenters to customize their questions and surveys, making them specific to their audience and topic.
  4. ARS systems allow for data tracking and analysis: you can track audience responses and provide data analysis tools for presenters to review the results of the questions and polls.
  5. Integration with meeting software: Some ARS systems can integrate with popular meeting software such as Zoom, allowing presenters to incorporate polling questions and feedback into their hybrid and online presentations seamlessly (you can integrate VPOLL into your next Zoom meeting).
  6. Multiple choice and open-ended question formats: ARS systems allow presenters to create multiple-choice or open-ended questions, depending on their needs.
  7. Anonymous or identified responses: ARS systems allow audience members to respond anonymously or identify themselves when responding, depending on the presenter's preference.
  8. Gamification features: Most ARS systems offer gamification features such as polls, quizzes and leaderboard scoring to make the meetings more engaging and interactive.
  9. Some ARS systems also include election features: they allow running various types of elections. VPOLL election features stand out from the pack because it offers advanced elections features beyond plurality voting, such as group-based voting, weighted voting, min/max voting, split voting, and required majority voting. 

What are audience response systems used for?

You can use audience response systems to gamify aspects of your presentation, ask for audience feedback, conduct elections, and more. One common reason for using this technology is to foster a deeper level of engagement among the meeting participants. When audiences feel heard, they're more likely to pay attention, and they'll walk away with a greater level of understanding of the meeting topic and personal satisfaction in making a contribution to the meeting outcomes.

Many different types of organizations use audience response systems. These include:

  •  Public and private schools and universities
  • Unions
  • Professional associations
  • Corporations
  • Faith-based organizations
  • Homeowners associations
  • Fraternity and sororities
  • Volunteer organizations
  • Government bodies

Within these groups, you can use audience response systems like VPOLL to vote in organizational elections, or solicit and analyze participant feedback via: 

  • Surveys
  • Polls
  • Quizzes

You can use these audience engagement methods to conduct ice-breakers, gauge the temperature of the room, check audience understanding, crowdsource information, and foster engagement through competition. Audience response systems can turn audience members into meeting participants.

What are examples of audience feedback?

VPOLL is an example of online audience response software that lets you interact with your audience in several fun and interesting ways. 

For example, if you're a professor, you could send out a poll at the beginning of class to assess your students' knowledge. You'll receive the feedback in real-time allowing you to alter the course of your lesson to spend additional time on areas where your students are struggling. 

Or, if you are a pastor in a faith-based organization, you could use the quiz function as a fun interactive tool to gauge the congregation's familiarity with a certain section of the Bible and test them before and after the sermon to foster maximum engagement. Participants will definitely pay extra close attention to find what they missed!

A fraternity or sorority could integrate the quiz function into their pledge week by testing prospective members on their history of the institution, or more importantly, vote on which pledges to extend an invitation to your fraternity/sorority during rush.  

Any organization or association can start their next meeting with a series of fun ice-breakers and insert energizers into the meeting flow. For greater audience participation and buy-in, divide members into teams by using VPOLL's team-building function, and conduct a quiz. This will encourage team-building and get the creative juices flowing even more (especially if you incentivize the winners)! Read about more ways to engage meeting participants in our blog post How to Use Surveys To Make Meetings More Engaging

For certain meeting activities, you can use meeting analytics functions like word cloud generation for added fun. For example, you could ask your audience members to log in spots they like to go on vacation - the whole group will then see what the most popular destinations of the group are, finding many spots in common, and even learn about some obscure locations, which organizers then can ask those who wrote those in to share all about them! See an example of such a word cloud below.

Word Cloud Image of Audience's Favorite Vacation Spot

VPOLL also offers solid functionality for elections big and small. From electing the board of your homeowner's association to corporate governance, our secure online voting system with advanced election features makes it easy to select the right persons for the job.

Conducting Elections with Audience Response Systems

As mentioned above, you can use some audience response systems to conduct elections. If you use VPOLL's online election tool, for example, you'll be able to conduct your group's next election online in real time. Our secure authentication system makes it so that you don't have to worry about hackers or data manipulation. You can also ensure that only voting members are able to vote.  Don't just take our word for it though.

COVID-19 forced the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina to shift from its traditional paper ballot voting system to an entirely electronic system. With over 350 attendees, including many less than tech-savvy older individuals, meeting virtually through Zoom, the Diocese needed to retain its traditional voting structure without sacrificing integrity or efficiency.

Making matters more complicated was the fact that only certain attendees had voting privileges. VPOLL solved this problem. Not only did VPOLL make it easy to assign voting privileges only to select group members by authenticating them, but it also integrated key voting features like required majority and quorum to match the exact needs of the Diocese.

Our comprehensive system makes use of advanced techniques, such as weighted, proxy, and split voting. You can change your election setup depending on your organization's unique needs. VPOLL automatically calculates your results and declares a winner regardless of whether you're using a plurality, simple majority, or supermajority voting system.

The Episcopal Church of Minnesota's adoption of VPOLL for their annual convention saw a similar shift in efficiency. Event organizers saved hours counting individual votes, and with VPOLL's authentication software, the results couldn't be safer. Diocese members praised VPOLL for its intuitive and simple-to-learn user interface.

Gamification with Audience Response Systems

ARS systems like VPOLL can make meetings more engaging and fun by gamifying the meeting proceedings with quizzes and competitions.   

You can use VPOLL quizzes to cover the most important meeting takeaways. By gamifying knowledge retention, you’re ensuring that meeting participants walk away with the information they need. You can also build a sense of team spirit and camaraderie by splitting your audience into multiple groups before you start your quiz.

VPOLL lets you record and display correct answers in real time, keep score, and even use speed-scoring. This fun game element adds extra points to faster correct answers. You can also run multiple games simultaneously for different break-out groups. Consider offering a prize to your winning team or individual (it could be something as simple as a $5 Starbucks gift card, or special privileges like the right to take a half-day off). Your participants will walk away from the meeting with positive feelings toward their team members and the organization as a whole.

Best of all, you don't need to purchase special hardware for your audience members. VPOLL is mobile-friendly and usable without any additional hardware (like keypads). Your participants can record their responses with their smartphones or laptops making setup a cinch. If your organization does require the use of keypads, contact Vistacom, VPOLL’s parent company. Vistacom Information Systems specializes in providing audience response solutions with keypads.

What is the average price of an audience response system?

Comparing audience response system plans can be a little tricky since most systems have a free starter plan before bumping you up to a paid plan tier. Depending on the company, the technology, and the range of features selected, and the size of your audience, you may pay as little as $72 a year up to $12,000 annually for some enterprise plans.

More expensive pricing tiers generally come with a wider range of features, such as polling, multiple choice quizzes, team game-play options, and the ability for audience members to submit custom answers. Many plans cap your total number of users at a certain level. Typically, the more participants, the more expensive the plan. Your total number of meetings may also be limited according to your plan tier.

VPOLL lets you get started for free with one user and up to 25 participants and all plans offer an unlimited number of meetings. Our paid plans range from $72 billed annually for the Basic Plan with up to 100 participants, our most popular Professional ($540) and Premier ($720) Plans with up to 750 and 1,000 participants, respectively, to the Enterprise Plan that costs $2,400 a year and allows you to support up to 5 users and 4,000 participants. Premier and Enterprise plans offer advanced features, such as ranked-choice voting, game competitions, and voter authentication credentials.

Many audience response systems offer less and charge more. Regardless of the plan option you choose, VPOLL is always accessible anytime from anywhere. 

Take VPOLL out for a test drive! Even with our Free Plan, you can still conduct polls/surveys and hold Q&A sessions. Or, upgrade to a paid plan to hold secure elections and receive detailed insights into your event analytics.

VPOLL is a trusted audience response system

When you go with us, you gain access to more than 25 years of offline audience response system experience that started with Vistacom Information Systems keypad solutions. Now we've brought our decades of experience to VPOLL a complete online audience response system solution.

Integrating an audience response system into your next presentation doesn't have to be difficult. VPOLL offers over-the-phone customer support for both free and paid plan holders and email support exclusively for its paid plan users. Let us take the setup process off your hands. When you use our full-service solution, you'll receive access to expert guidance and assistance when setting up your next meeting. Schedule your free demo today!

More from the blog

July 29, 2023

Why Use Online Voting

Read now

July 25, 2023

What Makes Online Elections Secure

Read now

July 23, 2023

What is an Audience Response System

Read now

July 11, 2023

Voting Technology

Read now

July 11, 2023

Types of Voting Systems

Read now

June 24, 2023

Interactive Presentation Ideas

Read now

June 22, 2023

The Best Icebreaker Questions and Quizzes for Meetings

Read now

May 23, 2023

How Word Clouds Can Increase Engagement and Collaboration in a Workplace

Read now

May 19, 2023

How to Incentivize Meeting Engagement With Gamification

Read now

May 8, 2023

How to Use Surveys to Make Meetings More Engaging

Read now

January 18, 2023

Advocating for the Values of the Architectural Community with VPOLL Survey Feature

Read now

January 18, 2023

Securing a Smooth Transition to In-person Voting at the Annual Church Convention

Read now

January 18, 2023

Turning Compliance Training Into a Fun and Interactive Game Competition

Read now

November 3, 2022

What We Learned Using E-Voting For The First Time At Our Diocesan Convention

Read now