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polltogo: Conversation with Ralph Baddour

Friday, November 25, 2011
posted by Geetesh on 9:30 AM IST





Ralph BaddourRalph Baddour is a Canadian engineer, scientist and former biomedical researcher who's given talks at several international conferences. A part-time entrepreneur for the last decade, he has recently left academia and is now working on a several web startup projects, most notably polltogo as co-founder & CTO of Inspirapps Inc. You can visit his startup's blog here.

In this conversation, Ralph discusses polltogo.

Geetesh: Tell us about polltogo, and what does a presenter need to add a QR code onto their PowerPoint slide so that it works with polltogo?

Ralph: polltogo is a new web-based platform that facilitates mobile interactions with a targeted audience. Although there are many sectors in which polltogo is being used, it is particularly well suited in the context of presentations as it can help a presenter better engage an audience.

At its simplest, polltogo lets you ask a question and poll your audience for their answers, ratings, feedback, comments, or even their own questions. The audience will be able to answer using any cell phone or mobile device with a data connection (WiFi, 4G, 3G, EDGE, GPRS, WAP) and the results compiled automatically, ready for you to display on-screen.

To add a polltogo to a presentation, you must first sign-up on polltogo.com, and create a poll! A unique QR code and short web address is generated for each poll created. The easiest way to share the poll with your audience is to include both of these on the same slide when you create your presentation. If you’ll be presenting in an auditorium, make sure to make the image of the QR code large enough to scan from the back of the room.

Presentation slide with a polltogo

When giving your presentation, when you reach this slide, make sure to give your audience enough time to take out their cell phone/tablet/PDA/laptop and type the web address shown or scan the QR code, but also time for the poll to load on their device and time to answer your query. Ideally, factor in a pause of at least 90 seconds on this slide so as not to rush your audience, more if you are asking for textual responses or comments.

After submitting their vote or answer, each audience member will see the interim results of the polltogo from their device (this option can be disabled when creating the poll). To be able to present the final results on-screen, for all to see and for you to discuss, when preparing your presentation place a link somewhere on your slide (in PowerPoint, right-click on any text or object and choose "Hyperlink…") to the results page of your poll -– it will just be your poll's web address with a plus (+) symbol added on at the end (i.e., http://p2.gg/me+). In the example I provided, I made the question text itself be the hyperlink. When the presentation is being shown, clicking this web link in the slide will open a web browser with that URL.

When you’re done discussing the results, just close the web browser and you’ll be back where you left off in your presentation.

Sample polltogo Results

There are more advanced methods to directly embed web pages, such as the polltogo results page, into your presentations. If you feel adventurous and are using PowerPoint on a Windows-based machine, you can try the LiveWeb add-in available here.

Geetesh: Can you share some user experiences of using polltogo on a PowerPoint slide – just some customer reactions or responses?

Ralph: To date some of the early adopters of polltogo have been university professors. In this lecture hall setting, the typical use we've seen is to quiz a class to gauge how well newly introduced concepts are being understood. Professors have reported back that students enjoy this added use of technology in the classroom. What we didn't expect to hear is that polltogo is being used in ways we hadn't anticipated. A popular use is simply to create an open-ended "Any questions?" feedback poll to prompt students to ask questions anonymously, without fear of sounding stupid. This use of polltogo could be replicated in all presentation contexts to combat audience shyness, give presenters an honest assessment of their performance and provide topics for further discussion.

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