©2019 Corbin Ball, CMP, CSP, DES

Presenters and meeting planners are often faced with the following dilemmas: In today’s multitasking environment where event participants are regularly on their mobile devices, how to keep their attention? How do you keep attendees engaged? And how can you best measure their interests and engagement during a presentation?

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An excellent option to answer these questions is second screen technology. This is an area with lots of options and varying degrees of capability and costs. This article will cover a range of these options with a look as specific features, costs and analytic capabilities.


Second screen technology for events defined:


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).
  • Note-taking
  • Games and quizzes
  • Analytics that can gauge individual and collective audience participants level of engagement, specific slides of interest and, in some case much more.

Second screen technology can keep audience members engaged while providing lots of useful data on attendee interest level, questions, and learning achieved.

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Below are a number of second screen event tools divided into three categories:


1. 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. Here are two of them that do:


Evenium ConnexMe

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 use advance the slides using his/her smartphone/tablet.

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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 time full screen, or show them as banners, or as a question wall. Questions can be moderated, sored and filtered. Questions from Twitter can also be incorporated. Photos can also be sent by participants for view on the screen.

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The presentation can also be recorded and lived streamed with slides within the system. Good quality Wi-Fi access for attendees is required for the interactive components to work well.

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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.

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ConnexMe provides native apps (both iOS and Android) as well as HTML5 with web applications for the interactive features.

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Pricing: 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.


Event Pilot by ATIV Software

ATIV Event Pilot is a mobile app company designed specifically for large scientific meetings including detailed listing of abstracts, poster sessions and more. However, one of their features includes the ability to share PowerPoint presentations with bookmarking and note-taking on the slides offline.

Basic analytics include tracking the number of bookmarked slides.

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Pricing depends on the number of slides. For example, up to 1,000 files starts at $1,599 including mobile optimization for offline in app use. Additionally, second screens can be open inside the app for polling, surveys, streaming services. App pricing starts under $4,000.


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. These include:


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 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.

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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. Name and email of participants can optionally be captured as well.

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Pricing: 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.


MeetingPulse

Meeting Pulse is a web-based interactivity app with many options. However, slide sharing to second screens is not one of them. MeetingPulse’s second screen feature is their real-time Pulse product which allows the speaker to see in real-time the “pulse” of the room. The attendees' web app (no download required) displays four buttons. Participants can vote at any time that they: 1.) like the content being delivered, 2.) disagree with it, 3.) are confused by it or 4.) they want the speaker to speed up. The speaker can see the audience sentiment immediately and react to the room’s feedback as it happens.

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This web-based system provides a range of options including live polling and social Q&A where audience members can upvote the questions they like. Lead capture options are available if desired, and also raffle capabilities to randomly pick a member of the audience. PDFs and other documents can be distributed through the app as well.

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At the end of the presentation, the speaker or event host can see the spikes of audience emotions correlated to the timeline of the presentation. Poll results, questionnaire responses, questions, votes and participant profiles are all saved in the report as well.

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Analytics include a listing of all the questions asked, poll responses, survey responses, quiz responses, audio recording with a sentiment timeline, participant activity,

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Pricing: Monthly pricing for the basic version starts at free for events up to 50 persons, $149* for up to 150 persons, $379* for up to 300 persons, and $749* for their enterprise version with up to 1,000 persons.

*includes increasingly more engagement and support features.


3. 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 all the hardware (tablets/mobile display devices and wireless network), the setup and onsite support for all attendees.

The benefits 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 host’s 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, this is well worth the cost.


Educational Measures

Educational Measures (EM) bills their product as an “all-in-one audience engagement and analytics platform.” They provide the on-site set up, support, hardware (including tablet computers), and technical infrastructure for networking capabilities with their second screen technology service.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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 can also be provided.

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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.

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Pricing: Fees range between $50-$250 per person, per event and are based on the number of days and users.


SpotMe

Established in 2000, SpotMe was one of the original audience engagement products.

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Originally delivered as a handheld, standalone, proprietary engagement and networking device, they reengineered the product as a high-end app and hardware service. Attendees can download the app or use iPads or iTouch devices provided. They also provide a local wireless Wi-Fi service to guarantee voting coverage for a large group of people.

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Features include: live polling, word clouds, moderated Q&A, surveys/evaluations, slide share with annotation capabilities. A major differentiator is for delegate voting where a subset of a group with voting rights an no one else can access a private area for elections and other member voting requirements.

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SpotMe also provides traditional event app capabilities such as personalized agendas, reminders, alters, speaker profiles, note taking/bookmarks, downloadable content and interactive maps. There are also several networking modules including a participant directory with photos, instant messaging, e-business card exchange, appointment maker, lead capture and social media integration.

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Analytics include: live display of polling/survey data, content effectiveness analysis (number of views per document/page and visit duration), participant adoption metrics, and navigation behavior. Additionally, measurement of app adoption, active users, frequency and duration of app visits.

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Pricing: SpotMe does not offer pricing plans for under 500 persons. The “per seat” pricing for 1,000 is $23 per seat. This goes down to $8 for 50,000 seats with additional functionality.


Sync by FreemanTM

Sync is a full-service second-screen provider that typically provides on-site set up, support, hardware, and technical infrastructure for networking capabilities. However, it also allows presenters to share their slides to anyone with a mobile device with web access (including remote audiences). Participants can respond to poll questions and ask questions through the system with audience upvoting to show the speaker and moderator which topics are most important. The system can amplify the social media impact by posting comments and sharing the presentation to Twitter, Facebook and other channels including animated emojis to communicate sentiment. There are gamification modules to increase audience participation. Sync Cast allows presentations to be recorded for on-demand viewing, allowing attendees who missed the live session to still view and interact with the presentation as if it were live

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Analytic capabilities include measurement of real-time participant engagement, focus, and all activities when using the system. The name and email address of attendees are recorded as well as the exact moment they joined. This platform also calculates and overall score for each presentation based on attendance, interaction and engagement.

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Sync also integrates with Freeman’s presentation management system, Orchestrate, and OnlineEvent, an eLearning web portal.

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Pricing: The starting price for a group of 100 persons is about $3000. For full service, fees start at $15,000/event and are based on the number of presentations and users.

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Event participants are using their smartphones in meeting rooms. The products listed above can help focus what could be a distraction to actions that engage the participants in the meeting content and help to increase the learning while providing significant insights into attendee interests and engagement.


Corbin Ball, CMP, CSP, DES is a speaker and independent consultant focusing on meetings technology. Previously, Corbin ran international citywide technology meetings for 18 years. For the past 21 years, he has helped clients worldwide use technology to save time and improve productivity through his speaking, consulting and writing services. Corbin is a 2018 inductee to the EIC Hall of Leaders, the premier recognition program for the events industry. He can be contacted at his extensive web site Corbin Ball & Co. - Meetings Technology Headquarters and followed on Twitter

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