How to Win Audience Engagement with Mobile Apps

We’ve all been there- eagerly going through a presentation, only to look up and find half the audience neck-deep into their phone screens. Nowadays fighting the pull of the phone for attention is a losing battle for audience engagement. Don’t fight it, use it! By bringing a mobile aspect into your presentation you’ll harness the power of the phone to enhance engagement with your content.

Mobile app basics

When looking for mobile apps to integrate into your presentation, think about their utility and usability for audience engagement. You don’t want to find the perfect app for your audience, only to find that it will cost them each $8 to download. Free is key. You also don’t want to include an app for the sake of including an app- it’s a waste if you don’t commit the time and energy to leverage the app for its usefulness. And don’t ask your audience to spend time downloading an app that you’ll only use briefly.

When using an app in your presentation, let your participants know ahead of time. Include the app link in your emails and other messaging about the meeting or presentation. This way, the app will be downloaded and ready to run when you need it. While setting up, again make the link available for any stragglers who forgot to download it beforehand. The first time using an app will require some investment in terms of time to walk through the functionality for your audience. Ideally, you’ll have incorporated some slides into your presentation on how the app works so everyone feels comfortable using it.

How to use mobile apps

For those new to the world of mobile applications, think about what you need first. What asset would enhance your materials? Would a survey help? What about a way to poll your audience or to give an assessment? Apps can even be used as a source of supplemental information for audiences with diverse levels of expertise in your presentation topic. But don’t drown your attendees in all of the above- pick which tool(s) works best for you. Then take a look at what tools are available on a mobile platform. Some great apps to start with include:

  • Poll Everywhere: a real-time mobile polling tool, along with Q&A and T/F responses
  • Socrative: an educational tool for assessments, exit surveys, & T/F responses
  • Padlet: a real-time collaboration tool, like group brainstorming meetings or supplemental presentation info
  • Haiku Deck: a mobile tool for access to presentations and to easily share content
  • 2Shoes: an engagement tool for access to curated audience questions and feedback responses

For regular presenters, whether you’re a professor teaching to a classroom of students or a manager conducting monthly meetings, you should have one or two apps selected that are used regularly to increase audience engagement. There is a learning curve with every piece of new technology, and you don’t want your audience to constantly be in a state of adjustment to new platforms.

Finally, incorporate your selected apps into your presentation preparation. It’s important to both practice using the apps yourself and to practice presenting your information while balancing the app’s use. Also prepare an alternate activity in the case that the technology is unavailable, like if the Wi-Fi is suddenly down, to keep up the audience engagement in any scenario. With confidence and preparation, you’ll be ready to dive headfirst into the world of mobile presentations.

How do you incorporate mobile technology into your presentations? Let us know in the comments below.