When an election of your representatives needs to be accurate and fast, or when your students are gazing at you in hope to learn something and engage in the conversation, or if you’re just hoping that you can entertain your attendees with a few trivia questions you worked so hard on last night, your electronic group feedback system simply MUST WORK!
Therefore, we’d like to provide a few tips on how to cross your “Ts” and dot your “Is” – the MUST DOs in setup, test and operation of an audience response system (ARS).
Most users think that simply connecting the ARS receiver into the computer and having the keypads in everyone’s hands will make their event successful. However, if you don’t prepare for your show and don’t take precautionary measures, many things could go wrong. For audience response service providers that could be a matter of losing and never seeing a client again. For the presenter or meeting planner, it is the most deafening silence you’ll ever (not) hear from your audience.
Almost all problems can be avoided ahead of time. Proper preparation and testing of the ARS content is critical, but so is the hardware setup on-site. Larger rooms, or large number of attendees require that you definitely think about this before you start:
- Most quality ARS are based on radio frequency (RF) and thus require that they can accept interference. Systems with Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS) technology can avoid the interference by ‘hopping’ from one channel on the 2.4GHz spectrum to another until a free channel is found and a vote can be delivered. With this in mind, it is highly advisable that you disable any RF devices in the room where ARS is going to be used, including Wi-Fi routers and Bluetooth.
If your audience size requires using multiple wireless audience feedback receivers, being familiar with the advanced setup of your audience response software is critical. Also, the location, positioning and linking the receivers must be done in such way that they don’t interfere with each other, but at the same time help eliminate or overwhelm any extraneous RF signal that you were unable to eliminate otherwise.
Propping your receiver well above the people’s heads and positioning it within the center of the room where the audience is sitting is the best way to achieve the best speed, reliability and accuracy of voting.
But that’s not all. Once you have your hardware set up and tested, you need to make sure that no one can interfere with it even by accident. Protecting the area where the the ARS equipment is located is just as important as its configuration and testing. You won’t have time to troubleshoot and fix a complex system in the midst of the meeting.
- “Base-Controlled” ARS also has the incomparable advantage of being able to request a vote from the keypad, rather than accepting a barrage of votes from keypads and then dropping them, thus making sure that every keypad in the room has a chance of delivering one. You see, if the polling keypad only sends the vote and does not require a confirmation of delivery, the receiver could be busy with other keypads and never receive that vote.
“Base Control” is a feature that saves the votes and should be the one feature that you need to ask for. There’s no doubt about it.
When you are purchasing or leasing a system for your elections, or when the crowd you’re trying to get involved tends to be competitive, you don’t want the voters and players to turn against you and claim that the system is not working, or that “the game is rigged.”
Next time, we’ll talk about the ways you can secure the event’s success by tweaking and configuring your software the right way…