Polls, Word Clouds and More: Tools to Support Hybrid Audience Engagement

What can you do to make your hybrid programs more interactive and engaging for people, both in-person at your library and at home?

Watch the webinar recording to learn more or read some of Melissa A. Wong's simple guidelines and tips for selecting the right tools and activities below.

First, select a tool that works for you

The trick for excellent audience engagement is selecting a tool that will work well for your setting and what you are trying to accomplish.

Pick tools that are:

  • Simple to use. You want the tools to be intuitive to participants. You don't want to spend time explaining how to use the tools or worry that you are losing participant interest.
  • Collaborative. You want something that will bring together in-person and virtual participants. For example, choose a tool that can help create a discussion with members of both groups.
  • Meaningful. You don't want to do an activity just for the sake of having an activity, but to instead engage participants in meaningful participation in the program. 

Let's look at some tools...

Polling tools

Polling is a simple yet effective tool for interaction that can be used to set the stage for discussion, pose questions based on the materials and share audience opinions. Polling tools allow a variety of question types, such as true or false, multiple choice, ranking and clickable images.

Some examples of online polling tools that are great for adult and teen audiences include Google Forms, Mentimeter, Poll Everywhere and Socrative. A great polling tool for kids is Kahoot!, a platform that gamifies polling and is often used as a knowledge check.

For online participants, you can share a link to the poll in the chat and have in-person participants use their smartphones or distribute tablets.

Open-ended responses

Ask participants to write their own answers to a presented question. Discussion prompts can be great for idea sharing and can also be used to collect questions for a Q&A.

Many tools will allow for open-ended responses. A popular tool with this feature includes Mentimeter but the polling tools mentioned above also have options for open-ended responses. Additionally, the tools Google Jamboard and Padlet have some creative open-ended response features.

Word clouds

Another quick and easy tool is word clouds. They are great for icebreakers, brainstorming and learning checks. AnswerGarden poses a question and attendees type in their responses to the question. Participants can enter as many responses as they would like to watch the "word garden" grow in real time.

Tips for audience engagement tools 

  • Select the right tool for your audience and for your presentation's purpose. Some tools are more oriented toward kids, while others have a more professional interface. Resist using a tool just because it's trendy.
  • Check for limits on questions and responses you can collect. If you're using a free account, for example, Jamboard is limited to 50 participants. Be aware of limits like these before you start collecting responses. 
  • Test from the presenter and audience view. What you see as a presenter might be different from what your audience will see on their polls or surveys.
  • Practice! Especially if you are using a tool that is new to you. Get comfortable with the tool to the point where you can explain how to use it, troubleshoot any issues and operate it smoothly. 
  • Paste links in the chat. Have a Word or notes document open with all of the links you will be sharing so you can easily copy and paste appropriate links when the time comes. 

See the full list of hybrid programming webinars and articles from this series.

Funding for this article has been provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as part of the American Rescue Plan: Humanities Organization Grant.