How to engage an audience: organize an interactive debate!

There are many more methods to engage your audience then only the good old “Q&A” sessions. The Dutch Contactlens Congress [NCC] is a living proof of this! Every other year 1500 optometric professionals gather from all over Europe. During the congress, attendees reflect on the latest trends and developments with regards to contactlenses. Sendsteps audience response system contributed in several ways to improve the audience interaction. Indeed, by supporting Q&A sessions, evaluating the sessions through surveys and by enliven presentations with help of multiple choice questions. However, the ‘interactive debates’ were truly the best way to engage an audience!

Woman giving presentation

Interactive Debates: the audience favorite!

The NCC wanted to use “debates”, as a mean to further develop a shared vision on the developments within the industry. Here’s how it went:

  • After several rounds of short debates, a small number of debaters entered the debate arena for the final round;

  • Before a debate took place, the audience decided which specific statement should be discussed between two debaters [A, B or C]. The audience could vote through Sendsteps;

  • Based on the specific outcome, one debater was asked to debate “in favor” of the statement. The other debater would debate “against” the statement;

As the debate took place, the audience could vote for who of the debaters got most of their trust. The bar chart behind the speakers would change as the audience casted their votes. The more trust earned, the brighter the lights would turn green. Or red, if trust was lacking! As such the debaters were challenged to adapt their reasoning and tone of voice throughout the course of the debate in order to win the vote of the audience.

True audience heroes

Through this way of debating, the debates not only became very lively; but almost as in Roman times [where the audience was entertained with bread and circuses], the finalists were received as true heroes during breaks and networking opportunities. And the audience? They not only enjoyed the entertainment, but also got a great chance to further develop their vision!

Your next interactive debate?

Use Sendsteps to facilitate a debate 2.0! Setup an interactive PowerPoint session and add statements to your slideshow. Formulate statements that will spark a lively discussion. Challenge your debaters, entertain your audience and help to further sharpen opinions. Good luck!

Robert Daverschot

Robert is a professional moderator, presenter and speaker coach. Robert has years of experience at home and abroad and works for a broad range of industries. He has interviewed ministers, captains of industry and even His Holiness the Dalai Lama. In his dealings with the audience, he always uses Sendsteps. With it, an audience is able to voice their opinions, whereby attendees can cast votes or send in comments to speakers and panels on stage. As such, events turn into lively dialogues with everyone being able to speak up!