Published: 21 June 2016

In the last few weeks I’ve been with a client providing live event digital support and I can tell you that there is a real dichotomy in emotion about such a thing. On the one hand you’ve got international travel and the buzz and excitement of being at a live event, not to mention the great feeling that comes with being part of a show team - all working together, getting stuff done to make it a fantastic event. The flip side is that its live and that after months of preparation, planning and rehearsal it all comes down to one live performance and, quite literally, anything can happen!

However, all the planning and preparation paid off combined with the collective skills and experience of the whole team and the two day live event was a great success, mixing music, presentations, video content and live audience interaction seamlessly into a fantastic visitor experience.

Sagittarius has been tasked with perhaps the most risky of all the production elements - sourcing, executing and supporting the live audience polling system. The live polling needed to support a number of important features, including:

  1. Live Q&A - the ability for the audience to send questions to the current speaker and for the speaker to have these curated and presented onto a device in their hand, on stage.
  2. Live Opinion Polls - the speaker would ask a question and present a number of options. The audience would then have 30 seconds to make their selection known
  3. Live Results - following a live poll the results then needed to be fed into the VT system so that the speaker and the audience could see the results come in on a giant video screen, in real time
  4. The ability to run multiple polls and Q&As in a single speaker session via the individual audience members mobile devices
  5. To be accessible to 99.9% of the audience who would be using a mixed bag of mobile devices

The solution we chose was PollEverywhere, a relatively new SaaS based solution from a company in the USA. It ticked most of the client's boxes in terms of functionality and was web based, rather than native app based and so removed some of the concerns around supported devices and operating systems. Also, it allowed for custom branding and, as this was a corporate event for one of the world's largest law firms, it could be made to look in keeping with their strong brand and event branding.

How it worked

In reality, to use this live voting platform was quite easy.

  1. You create a question, or a poll in the language of PollEverywhere
  2. You decide if it will be a free text, multiple choice, ranking or other type of response - we ran a combination of the three over the two days
  3. You decide how people can respond - through the web based app, via SMS or through Twitter
  4. You set a few other things including whether users needed to be registered and if this was to be run between specific times
  5. You activate the poll

The web app that the audience navigated to then presented the current live poll and allowed them to send in their answers. It used peer-to-peer technology to then move to the next poll whenever the controller published the next live poll and this worked very well, with only a 1 or 2 second delay between the next vote being activated and all the audience devices updating.

But did it work?

The short answer is ‘Yes’. The speed with which questions and answers could be created and published, coupled with the quick response times of audience devices updating, plus the API that allowed us to grab the results, in real time, and display these on large video screens at the event meant that it was a good solution, all in all.

Of course, there are always things that happen during live events but ultimately ‘the show must go on’ as someone rather famous once said and, in this instance, in certainly did with the audiences live, interactive participation - a great use of digital adding an extra dimension to a tried and tested format and media.

Nick Towers

Managing Director


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