Joining a presentation

Making it easy for presenters to instruct participants on how to join their presentation.


How do we improve engagement?

The catch-22 of Poll Everywhere’s product is having a room full of people pull out their phone in order to participate in a poll.  As we know, phones are distracting and can pull the audience's engagement away from the presenter.


Seizing opportunity

I saw an opportunity to expand on some previous research done, while building on the company’s goal of acquiring more customers.

Leading the research team and backed by our Director of Engineering, I championed improving instructions on how to join.

The goal was to have this project researched, designed, and implemented into production by the end of the quarter.



Fitting into our presenters workflow

Every project comes with their own set of unique challenges, here were ours.

  • Functions on the web and all slideware applications
  • Flexible to fit into a branded slide deck
  • Supports both web and text methods of joining
  • Considerate of the audience joining at different times
  • Projectors and monitor support
  • Make audience participation less reliant on hand raising
projector vs monitor-comp

An example of a projector set up in a theater and a monitor in a conference room.


Radio silence

Imagine being up on stage with radio silence.  It’s one of our presenters worst fears. Which happens during an empty poll as the audience gets set up. 

These 30 seconds could feel like hours.

Everyone hates the dead air, so presenters start thinking of hacks to reduce it on their own.


Experimenting with instructions

The design needed to be able to work with a variety of screen sizes and displays, and we needed to think about people sitting at the front or back of the room, which can affect engagement levels.


Brainstorming exercises with the team.


Guerrilla testing in the lobby.

I facilitated cross functional brainstorming and user testing to inform different directions the design could go in.  A few design iteration highlights:


Rotating through information

I looked at how the audience might engage if the display rotated through the instruction screen.

Toggles or Multi select

I looked into toggles and multi-select interactions

Built into the poll

And I looked into what happens if the instructions were built in and automatically displayed with the poll.


Flexibility and simplicity

While the different versions all had their advantages, I went back to my original focus of helping more participants join through increasing comprehension.


Breaking down the experience

Our first goal is to get them to pull out their phones, get them in the room, so they have the opportunity to participate in the first place

The design accomplished this by avoiding mistyping the URL.  I added steps to get them in the presentation. and shortened the URL, then gave a code to join.

I introduced “Join on your device” so it's clear what the participant should do.


How do presenters know when to move on?

With our old instructions, presenters and participants were unable to see feedback on the big screen.

Through transparency and blurred effects, both the audience and the presenter can receive feedback without revealing responses prematurely.


What else do the instructions affect?

Changing the instructions screen affects other areas of the experience.  Especially anywhere we surface how to join.

I chose to focus on the full screen join instructions opposed to on-poll instructions because If the audience understood those new instructions, we could improve the highly visible on-poll instructions.

light bar – wide screen – classic theme

Moving it to the top would change its visual hierarchy and allow participants to more easily access the information.

This also allowed the poll question and the responses to strengthen their relationship with each other without the Join instructions getting in the way.



4 Point release

How do we start learning? I put together a working release plan with our engineering lead which involved 4 Release Points.

  1. Get Join instructions in front of customers. 

  2. If it tests well, roll out On-poll instructions and PowerPoint app compatibility. 

  3. Address implementation feedback, including uncommon poll states. 

  4. And lastly, polish Join instructions and handle any uncommon cases from the on-poll instructions.


Out in the wild

This is a customer using a version of the Join instructions for ~100 or so people at a session in the SF Moscone Center. They had this slide at the beginning of the session while they were introducing the topic and panelists and were able to customize the screen with the title of the session.


Expanded projects

After 3 months, the Join instructions shipped into an early beta state.

Two projects that were part of my release plan received the greenlight to be worked on.

One is a dedicated project to on-poll instructions and the other is giving full compatibility to integrate with our PowerPoint app.