Is the Voting Keypad dead?

Voting Keypad

As most people use smartphones these days and more and more voting apps being available, is this the end of the road for the basic voting keypad (voting pads) you see at conferences and events?

For the last 10 – 15  years these simple multiple choice voting keypads have become extremely popular at conferences and events to create more interactivity amongst delegates and presenters. The idea of using voting keypads has perhaps been partly due to programs such as ‘Who want to be a millionaire’. They are reliable, cost effective, simple to use and can add enjoyment to a conference while at the same time generate some valuable data.
However more recently, voting apps at events that run on peoples smartphones have become more popular. Perhaps this is partly down to the X-factor’s downloadable app!

Why do we need to use dedicated keypads at events now that people have smartphones? Is this now the end of the keypad? We don’t think so (for the time being at least). We have listed below what we believe are the benefits of both Apps vs Keypads to help you decide your best options.

Benefits of Keypads:

They work straight out the box and no need to rely on Wifi and internet access.
Very simple to use, no need to download apps or enter a URL into web browsers.
All pads should come pre-tested for reliability.
Personal mobile devices can distract delegates who are tempted to get distracted by emails or social media.
Presenters may find it off-putting seeing delegates using their mobile devices.

Benefits of using voting app. on mobile phone:

They offer much more functionality, such as the ability for delegates to send questions to the presenter.
They offer opportunities to promote company branding.
There is no need to distribute keypads.
It is more cost effective especially with large numbers of delegates.
Most app systems don’t require users to download an app. It can simply function in a standard web browser.

Audience participation level

What is ultimately important when providing interactive voting systems for events is that your audience simply use the technology but not get distracted by it.

Audience use the technology:

A key benefit of  keypads over mobile apps is the participation rate amongst the audience. When your audience pick up their keypads they will just work straight away. This may not be the case with mobile apps simply because delegates have to get their devices out their pockets and type in a URL or download an app. This could be be a hassle especially to non tech savvy delegates. Many could be very impatient so the moment they type in an incorrect URL or passcode they may tend to give up!

Audience don’t get distracted:

Another factor against voting apps on personal devices is the danger of them doing the complete opposite of what they should be doing. Engaging with their device but not the conference and presentation  Having a mobile device in your hand gives enormous temptation to check emails, twitter or BBC news! It can also be off putting for presenters.

Features &  Functionality:

Features of some voting keypads can be limiting to just multiple choice questions or basic text functionality (depending on the system) so if you want border functionality of a voting app (i.e. messaging, branding etc) and happy with more of a snap shot of opinion amongst your audience then voting apps can work very well for your conference or event.

There are of course many other more expensive and comprehensive tablet based systems that offer an endless amount of interactive functionality. These are often pre set to operate from their own dedicated network and have no internet access.

In conclusion we believe voting apps will become more popular over time especially in smaller meetings and conferences as they develop and more features become available. We are also seeing more reliable Wifi and faster cellular networks which will help. That said we will always see some kind of dedicated keypads or more advanced smart devices at events.

For advice and consultation with planning your next event or to review how our audience response system can help you create an interactive event, please contact our London or Hampshire offices on 01962 867759 or email