The Audience response system (ARS) has been a fixture at events for decades. Before Smartphones and tablets, audience members used colored paper or numbered paddles to respond to presenter questions or vote. Today, software has replaced hand-raised objects as a more valuable, flexible and impactful way to connect with an audience. But using an ARS sparingly or only to collect simple responses is the definition of underutilization. There are better reasons to deploy an audience response system.

What is a modern audience response system?

Modern ARS solutions combine software and hardware—usually a Smartphone, tablet, keypad or clicker to allow audience members to respond to questions posed by a presenter. They can be a standalone system, embedded in a mobile conference directory app or a feature of second-screen presentation software. Some systems only permit limited responses to pre-formulated speaker questions. Others allow open-ended questions to be sent from the audience to presenters. Besides events, business use cases for audience response systems include training, onboarding, team building and market research.

Collect content

ARS solutions are perfect for uncovering gaps in audience knowledge, which can form the basis of an organization’s blogs, articles, white papers, even educational videos. Designing poll questions to elicit a wide range of responses, gauge enthusiasm for specific topics or cause respondents to answer, “I don’t know,” provides content marketers with clues.

Stimulate engagement

Let’s face it. There’s a reason why the phrase, “Death by PowerPoint” exists. While the software is effective in delivering information to large numbers of people, it takes audience interaction to weaken the blow of a dull presentation. One way to do so is to incentivize respondents with prizes for correct, solution-oriented or unique responses chosen through audience votes.

Gather feedback

One of the most valuable aspects of gathering together customers, employees or shareholders is the ability to obtain quick, real-time feedback on, for example, ideas, products or designs. Use the audience response system to get reactions to topics as varied as casual Fridays, the next sales incentive destination or the new company logo.

Educate participants

Questions delivered through ARS solutions can educate as well as stimulate an audience. Researchers say it’s because good questions can “be more attuned to the way human learning and memory works.” Examples of good questions include:

  • Presenting a new concept and asking which ideas (or categories) it is most closely related to
  • Showing an example of a new concept and eliciting audience feedback
  • Applying a mastered concept to a new situation[1]

Onboard employees

Large firms that onboard hundreds or thousands of people at a time can use audience response systems to help orient new employees and field questions from newbies. An ARS helps employers meet the needs of the incoming workforce, bring employees aboard more quickly and give shy workers a way to ask important questions. It also reduces redundant questions, as questions and answers can be shared with the group.

Audience response systems, especially those combined with slide-sharing, Q & A capabilities, interactive quizzes and digital note-taking, have become an integral component of live gatherings. Their effectiveness depends on the software and features of the specific solution; however, solutions like Glisser elevate the impact of meetings, provide participants with opportunities to learn and contribute and give organizers valuable data and feedback.


To learn more about the creative ways to make events more effective and memorable using an audience response system, contact SmartSource.