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Turn Distraction into Action - 3/17/2015 -

Turn Distraction into Action

Now you can stop fighting for your conference attendees’ attention by engaging them in your content through second screen technology.

By Corbin Ball, CMP, CSP

The mobile revolution has happened. Nearly everyone is carrying around at least one smart mobile device and checking it an average of more than 150 times a day.

Not surprising, your conference attendees are bringing their mobile devices into the meeting rooms and using them. Participants are tweeting event content, posting photos to Instagram, taking pictures of slides, fact-checking, and taking notes. However, these mobile screens are also distraction temptations and are often used for non-meeting-related tasks. The siren call of these glowing screens is hard to resist, especially if the presenter is not engaging or the material presented is boring — or both.

Association meeting hosts, meeting planners, and speakers should be asking what can be done to keep participants’ attention. The obvious answer is to provide compelling content and excellent speakers; it should be the speaker’s responsibility to keep the audience engaged. In addition, however, there are new technologies that use participants’ mobile devices to help them focus on the presentation — it’s called second screen technology.

Second screen technology refers to the use of a mobile device to provide an enhanced viewing experience for other content, usually with interactive features.This is seen most often on television, but increasingly so at events. During a presentation, speaker content such as slides, polling, video, notes, and social media links can be pushed to any device in real-time.

Here is a sampling of some interesting second screen event tools:

Lintelus (formerly NiceMeeting)

Lintelus allows a speaker to send slides to every mobile device in the meeting room. Participants can take notes digitally while viewing the presenter’s slides and can save the notes for later review and/or reporting. There are also integrated live polling capabilities, with the results appearing on the screen and on the mobile devices. Participants can also use the system to ask questions, to chat, and to tweet. In short, the mobile devices in the room are used to engage and focus the participants on the content, rather than distracting them from it.

This system is web-based and requires either internet access or a local wireless network. It can be run directly from PowerPoint and requires no app to download. Fees range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending upon the size of the event, number of sessions, if a moderator is requested, and if staffing is needed to provide an internet appliance, which secures information and provides Wi-Fi stability.

FXP | touch

Similar to Lintelus, this product 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, ask questions through the system, and amplify the social media impact by posting comments and sharing the presentation to Twitter, Facebook, and other channels. One of the strengths of FXP | touch is the analytic capabilities that measure 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. The FXP Touch platform also calculates an overall score for each presentation based on attendance, interaction, and engagement. Fees start at $15,000 per event and are based on the number of presentations and users.

Evenium ConnexMe

ConnexMe has similar features to the above products including web-based slide distribution, digital note taking on the slides, live sharing of the slides, audience response polling, and live questions. This is part of an event app that includes agendas, push notifications, private messaging to other attendees, session evaluations, and event analytics. ConnexMe is a native event app (both iOS and Android) with web applications for the interactive features. Fees start at $499 for one event with up to 200 participants and email-only support. Premium services are $2,000 for one event of up to 2,000 participants and include phone/email support and branding with sponsorship opportunities. If your organization has multiple meetings, look into $9,000/year for unlimited events.


MeetingPulse does not provide slide distribution to second screens. However, this web-based system is affordable and provides a range of options, including live polling and social Q&A, where audience members can upvote the questions they like. There are lead capture capabilities and also raffle capabilities to randomly pick a member of the audience.

MeetingPulse’s second screen feature is the real-time Pulse, which allows the speaker to see in real-time the pulse of the room. The attendees' opening second screen web app displays four buttons. Participants can vote at any time that they: 1) Like the content being delivered; 2) disagree with it; 3) state they are confused by it; or 4) ask the speaker to speed up. The speaker can see the audience sentiment immediately and react to the room’s feedback as it happens. 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. Fees range from $19.95/month for up to 100 attendees to $149.95/month for up to 10 hosts and up to 750 attendees.

Microsoft’s Bing Pulse

Bing Pulse also does not provide slide distribution to the second screens. It is primarily a web-based polling and voting tool with social media integration.However, once participants sign in, they can vote every five seconds on what is being said (strongly agree, agree, neutral, disagree, and strongly disagree). The analytics resulting from this can yield a second-by-second analysis of audience sentiment. This can be segmented by any of the demographics (such as age, gender, etc.) requested in the sign-in process.

Bing Pulse works in a meeting situation or even with large national television audiences. News media, for example, have used Bing Pulse to measure selected viewer sentiment during televised programs such as the recent State of the Union address. Currently, the trial basis is free for a person or entity located in the United States, United Kingdom, India, Australia, New Zealand, or Singapore. Once this unspecified trial period is over, the prices are estimated to range from $200-$1,000 per event.

Bottom line: The genie is out of the bottle and is not going back. Mobile devices are being used in meeting rooms. Technologies like the ones detailed above can help focus what may be a distraction to actions that engage the participants in the meeting content and help to increase the learning process for your association’s meeting attendees.

Corbin Ball, CMP, CSP 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.


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