Virtual events including masterclasses, training programs, seminars, and conferences have become popular after the expansion of internet services. It is more convenient and cost-effective to organize virtual events than live events. The COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown has created a situation where people hesitate to participate in events where people gather. This has led to a spurt in the number of virtual events. Businesses are organizing virtual events online successfully and this trend is likely to continue for some time. The secret behind a successful virtual event is ensuring participation interaction.
In a live event, the speaker can see the participants and gauge their interest levels. The speaker can ask questions and invite participants to interact. This is difficult in a virtual event. This is where polling can be of help. Virtual polls can be held in the event where questions are put with options and participants are asked to choose one of the options. The result can be displayed once the poll is completed. Such polls allow for interaction and make the event lively.
This kind of polling can be done easily by using SMS or Short Message Services.
Using SMS polling
SMS polling involves the use of text messaging to conduct polls during an event or a conference. All participants would have mobile phones and would have registered for the event with their mobile phones. The use of SMS is simple, easy, and convenient. SMS polling brings in an interactive element into a virtual event. It ensures everyone is alert since they need to answer poll questions. It allows the speaker to get the views of participants, which can be helpful as the event proceeds.
If you are organizing a virtual event or conference, then here is how you can use SMS polling during your event:
Allot a dedicated phone number and use it for the poll
A dedicated phone number is needed to make SMS polling in virtual events easy to manage. If a common number is used, then there would be many messages creating confusion. You would then need to use a keyword or shortcode, which may not be convenient for participants. Using a dedicated number allows participants to send a response from one of the answers displayed on the screen. All the participants have to do is send the option number to the given phone number. It hardly takes a few seconds for this to be done.
The following example explains how this can be done. A speaker may put up a question on the screen like:
Which social media site/app do you use first in the day?
SMS your choice (1, 2, 3, or 4) to 9xxxxxxx now. Poll closes in 60 seconds.
You can even put up a timer on the screen to let the participants know how much time is left.
Now let’s assume a participant’s selection is Instagram. All that the participant needed to do is open the mobile phone, compose a new message, and send 1 to 9xxxxxxx. It is as simple as that! The participant’s opinion is now recorded.
The moment the timer ends, the texting software would have the results of the poll. This can be displayed on the screen in the form of numbers or as a graph. This is easy to implement and allows the speaker to use the result of the poll immediately to continue the session. This is interesting even for participants as they can get to know the views of others on various topics.
Manage settings to organize it well
Various settings can be used in your texting software to organize the poll in the best way. Some of them include:
• Restricting participation only to those who have registered earlier. Since participants would have registered for the event, only their mobile numbers can be allowed to respond.
• Limiting one vote per person. This ensures the poll has authentic results so participants do not spam the poll with multiple votes.
• Setting a time limit for the poll to coincide with a timer you show on the screen.
• You can even send the results to the participant’s mobile if you wish.
• You can even allow participants to vote using Whatsapp in the same way.
• You can even use the poll to get instant feedback from participants during the program.
Where to use?
SMS polling can be used in virtual events like:
c) Master class sessions
d) Corporate training
e) Corporate meeting
f) Marketing presentation
g) Online contests
SMS polling is easy to use. All that is required is texting software and a dedicated phone number. It is easy to send polls and instant results can be obtained. These results can be used by the speaker during the event to make it more interactive and focused.