Manipulating Multiple Choice Questions for Better Information Retention

When making game show questions for a game show in a large event, many of our clients don't think much about the effect of the question in context. Questions--even multiple choice questions--can be utilized to manipulate the audiences' perception about a product or piece of information in interesting ways.

A few examples:

Let's say you have a new product introduction, and you want to design a question around the price of that new product. Which of the following questions makes it seem like that product is VALUE-priced?

1. The price of our new XtremeWidget2000 is:
A. $2
B. $11
C. $15
D. $27

OR

2. The price of our new XtremeWidget2000 is: 
A. $27
B. $32
C. $48
D. $122

Though these examples are exaggerated, the former makes it sound like the product is at a premium price and the latter makes it sound value-priced.

Other factors also affect the perception of the answers; having a huge gap between values can signal "we're priced way above/below what you'd expect". It can make a question much easier.

The price of our new XtremeWidget2000 is: 
A. $2
B. $27
C. $76
D. $122

The same perception manipulation can apply to chronology. By considering the distractor answers, one can make it seem like something is very fresh and new, or has happened a long(er) time ago.

Should you put the values in order with questions like these? 

It depends.

A question where answer options are totally randomized adds a level of difficulty--but it doesn't actually add information difficulty--the difficulty lies within the brain first having to order the options, then choosing.

The price of our new XtremeWidget2000 is: 
A. $122
B. $32
C. $27
D. $48

It also removes some of the psychological impact of price perception. Taking it out of context also removes some of the stickiness of the information. So if you really want people to remember that your XtremeWidget2000 is $27--and that's a value price compared to ApatheticWidget1000--putting the answer options in order will help your audience retain that crucial piece of information.
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How to focus your presentation with a game show.

Game shows are a phenomenal way to engage your audience. They add an element of competition and fun to a training session or large-scale event. However, game shows do more than benefit the audience--they also provide a huge benefit to the trainers; focused content.

Recently we designed a game show to run throughout a 45 minute training session with audiences of about 50 people. Three different companies were presenting content, and sessions were repeated multiple times a day, over many days. We had an opening game show round, a closing game show round, and rounds in between the presenters' content.

We analyzed the content and developed game show questions around the most important content points.

What we noticed, as the sessions continued on the first day, was that the presenters were starting to highlight those Very Important content points even more. They would refer to their content in the context of the game; "Now pay attention to this because you might need to know it later...wink-wink..."

In subsequent sessions, they pared down their presentations to have a laser-focus on the key points. The overall sessions were improved beyond the engagement of the game show.

Game shows help you focus your presentation because:

1. They show you what is nice to know vs. what you need to know. 

Obscure trivia is fun for are-you-smarter-than television shows. We're all impressed by that person who can answer with the most inane detail. However, training isn't trivia night. Questions that are difficult because they contain the most irrelevant detail (that no one remembers because it's irrelevant) not only slow down the game play, but they also are directing your trainees to the wrong content.

Maybe it's important to know a model number of a product, but it's more important to be able to instantly recall its features and benefits--you can look up the model number later.

Having to come up with a set of game show questions allows you to sort the nice-to-know from the need-to-know.

 

 2. They help you pare down your content to a limited number of points.

A training session or presentation has a limited time frame, and it's extremely common for presenters to try to pack in as much information as humanly possible. Often times, this comes at the expense of interaction ("Well, we wanted it, but we just didn't have time for it."). Having dedicated time for the game show review not only ensures that there is interaction time built in, but it also helps presenters narrow the scope of their presentation.

In the 45 minute session described, there were three discrete presentations. Each presenter only had time to reinforce 2-3 key points, so they were able to have extremely focused, relevant content and supplemental game show questions that reinforced and reiterated that content.

 

3. They highlight what is exciting about your content. 

Along the lines of finding the "need to know" and narrowing the scope of the presentation, the game show allows you to highlight what's exciting about your content. As you play through the game you discover that, apart from the reaction to the interaction and competition, the audience also reacts to content or announcements in a weighted way. You find out what's important to them, what they're paying attention to, and what is thrilling for them.
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Top 5 Mistakes That Bring Your Game Show to a Grinding Halt



Using a game show at an event can be an incredibly memorable and educational experience--and can energize the whole general session. But you want your game show to flow smoothly. Questions and game play should proceed at a steady pace without too much interruption (save for breaks in matches, content explanations or elaborations, etc.).


What you *don't* want to do is have your game show crawl along like the slow snail in the gene pool; making the experience unpleasant or awkward, and taking the natural energy of competition out of your game show event.

Here are the top 5 mistakes that slow down your game play (and how to solve them):


1. The questions are too difficult. Questions should be challenging, but not mystifying. Questions that are too advanced, or even hard to read or understand can result in the crickets-chirping phenomenon. This not only slows down game play, but it can become quite frustrating when trainees aren't able to get a taste of success.

If you're playing a review game, ask a slightly-simpler question in the competitive part of the game show, and then ask more challenging follow-up questions in your info screens (either for extra points or for knowledge alone).

Make sure that your questions are up to date (i.e. that you've covered the material in your presentation that you intend to review in your game).

If you have a long or complex question, break the question into pieces. Add an intro screen before the question and take time to explain the scenario--making the question itself fairly brief.


2. Timers are set incorrectly. If no one knows a question (no one is ringing in) and yet it takes the ring-in timer a long time to expire, there can be a lot of waiting around.

Keep your timers between 10-15 seconds each, or set them to manual mode. We find that manually controlling the timers can give the trainer more flexibility to spend time on a question when everyone is involved, or speed through a question that is less relevant to the training session.


3. Contestants don't understand the rules. Confusion is the cousin of chaos. Contestants need to know what they're supposed to do within a game show or they will: a.) Do nothing, b.) Dispute everything. ("Hey, but they didn't answer in the form of a question, isn't that against the rules?") Both of these scenarios suck time away from game play and disrupt the flow of  information.

Be sure to clearly explain the rules before the game starts--even if you think contestants will know how to play. A game doesn't have to be complex to be engaging; try simplifying the rules so that the focus is on playing the game--not HOW to play the game.


4. There's a logistical/tactical mismatch. Game shows can be played successfully in a large group. They can also be played successfully over a longer period of time. However, you have to have the right set up for your game and use it thoughtfully in a large group or a long session.

One of the most painful game show experiences we've seen was when a client wanted to use a large number of teams and then have the teams take turns answering questions (taking out some of the competitive aspect). While team 1 was answering, team 8 had no incentive to pay attention and vice versa. The game dragged for participants.

While playing in a large group, consider having fewer teams and utilizing small groups of participants to represent those teams--then switching out the contestants during game play. Make sure that the non-playing audience is assigned to one of the playing teams so they have a stake in the game.

When wanting a longer game show, be sure to add variety; switch up the game format, double the points, change participants or break the game show into smaller sections throughout the session.


5. Equipment failure. We once had a projector go out in the middle of a game show. Once we procured a new projection device, the momentum of the game show had been lost, and it was a bit of a slog to get through the rest.

Sometimes there's not much you can do about spontaneous equipment failure, but you can make sure that you practice with the equipment you're going to use. Test your av equipment, slammers (are the batteries turned the right way?) and projection systems. Run through your game to make sure everything is set and in the right order. If there's too much of a delay, sometimes it's better to save the game for another day or the end of the session.
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How to transition a breakout session game into a larger general session.


Many clients use game shows in their event workshops; in small-to-medium sized groups in a somewhat-intimate atmosphere. The energy it brings to the smaller group is undeniable; it increases engagement, participation and content retention.

But can the small workshop solution translate into something like, say, a larger general session at an event? Sure a game show is fun in training a small group of sales reps, but what about in a room of 500...1000...1500? Will it even work? How does one even begin transitioning from a breakout session game into a larger general session game?

The answers are: Yes, game shows translate into large general sessions. Yes, they invigorate a large group in the same way they add energy and interaction in a small group. Yes, it has worked time and time again.

And here are a few strategies and considerations for transitioning a smaller game into a game within a larger context:

Team selection: Whereas everyone in a workshop or breakout may get to directly participate on a team, that's not always possible in a larger group. There are three options for team engagement in a big-group game show:
  1. Use audience-response keypads: If enough are available, giving everyone in the audience an audience response keypad is the most straightforward way of engaging everyone. Audience members can individually play along, but you group individuals on teams--creating a compelling, competitive dynamic. No "stage teams" are needed in this scenario.
  2. Use a mix of keypads and on-stage players: You may also want to have representative team members playing on stage to "ham it up" or to take the audience response into consideration for their answers.
  3. Use representative players on stage: Even if you have no keypads, you can engage and entertain everyone by selecting members of the audience to come play on a smaller team onstage. The rest of the audience members are still "part of" the team--they're responsible for cheering the team on and may reap some rewards if their team wins--but they don't have to directly interact with the game on stage. 
Host selection: While a small breakout game can be a scalable event--from a quiet Tic-Tac-Toe game to a rousing Family Feud-style--with a large event, bigger and broader is better. You'll want to make sure that your host is able to play to the crowd as well as team members, educate when needed, and to keep things moving. This doesn't need to be a professional emcee, but it should be someone who enjoys the spotlight and is very comfortable on stage--where anything can happen.

Simplify the rules: In a workshop you may have a chance to answer clarifying questions about the game rules as you go along. In a larger group this may not be possible, or it may be harder to control chaos from unclear rules as you go along. Make sure your game show rules are simple, clear and that everyone knows them. Playing a sample game question to get audience members familiar with the format, keypads and game logistics is a great idea.

Have the professionals run the game: It's easy to click-through a game show and host at the same time in a breakout session. In a larger event setting, you'll want the A/V crew to control the game. Even if you do have access to the game controls, hosting and running through the game on stage in a large setting takes a lot more energy and focus than you'll want to spend. Get a colleague or technician to supervise the game play with the tech crew if you can.

Format selection: You may want to switch out a traditionally formatted game for alternate game play when bringing it on the big stage. For instance, we often make Tic-Tac-Toe into a Hollywood-Squares-Type game, utilizing different experts and presenters throughout the game.

When in doubt? Call in the experts. We'd be happy to help you transition your breakout game into a larger event general session.
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Hey! Keep it Down in There!

Large events often have discrete breakout sessions. These have varying levels of success and interaction--just because they have a smaller group doesn't automatically make them more engaging. We recently helped a client bring a game show in their educational workshop to help fix this issue.

This session was part of a multi-day event, and attendees could sign up for any session that they so chose. Groups would rotate after a set amount of time--giving attendees the opportunity to be in more than one session and making the presenters give multiple presentations with the same content.

When our client came to us, they were concerned about the interest level of their content. This was a sales group we were dealing with, and they had heard all about the new customer management system (the topic of their workshop), but they weren't adopting the technology as the sales leaders had hoped. So how were they going to generate excitement around not-new information?

With a game show, of course*!

The workshop ended up being structured like so (game show sections in italics):

Welcome
Introductory game questions (2 questions)
Subject: Account Planning
Review game: Account Planning (5 questions)
Subject: Customer Management System
Review game: CMS (5 questions)
Summary, additional info and questions
Review game: Both topics (6 questions)
Closing words

We divided the audience of ~60 into two teams based on the complex criteria of being either on the left or right side of the room. For the game show, every member of the audience had their own keypad and entered answers individually--the percentage of correct answers going toward their team's score. We also had a Feud-style portion where we took several volunteers from each side to come up and play for their team (while the audience cheered them on).

The entire session ended up being about 90 minutes--with games interspersed to keep the energy high.

And boy, was the energy ever high! Aside from a marked increase in attention to the content (just in case anything came up in a game), and retention of the content (as seen in tracking their individual responses) there were two stand-out results:

1. Since the workshop breakout rooms were beside each other at the hotel, you could hear the game being played in other classes. Not the game sound effects, mind, but the cheering, encouragement and general good time. One of the other leaders--jokingly--asked the facilitators to "Keep it down in there!"

2. As a result of the energy spilling out of the room, spontaneous attendance to the workshops increased dramatically. The client had people come up and say, "I know I wasn't signed up for your class, but do you have room for one more..." People *wanted* to come in and play, because it sounded like there was life and energy in the session. It attracted quite the crowd, and as a result MORE people received and retained the information than would have otherwise.

The game shows were a great success. Both the presenters and the audience had a tremendous amount of fun--but it wasn't fun without a purpose. Most importantly: the audience walked away with the message.


*Disclaimer: Game shows may not be the answer to everything... just most things. ;)
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Custom Game Shows: The Seagate Case Study

We use a lot of game show formats in general sessions: they're a great way to engage a large group, entertain the audience, and increase content retention. However, they are also a fantastic addition to breakout sessions; the smaller format can be customized to suit the needs of a trainer and create incredibly lively, effective workshops.

What follows is one example of Live Spark creating a custom game show to suit the needs of the trainer.
Summary: Seagate needed a way to engage their audience in traditionally dry breakout sessions. Live Spark created three different custom audience-response game shows that were played in each of the three breakout sessions throughout the session. The games were not only well received, but the audiences’ attention and retention of the material soared; as did the energy of both the presenters AND the attendees.

Overview: Seagate was getting all their local and international sales reps together for a large annual event. Part of this event included 90-minute workshops training on everything from product roadmaps, to new product introductions and sales strategies. Audience members cycled through the four major workshops in regional groups; from the Americas, to Europe, to Asia to Canada.

Issues: The extended workshop sessions were trying on the attention span of the attendees. A large amount of very important information needed to be presented, so presenters were scheduled back-to-back, giving attendees very little time to process and absorb the information. This was not conducive to learning.

Pile on top of that the fact that a lot of the material was very technical and could be dry. It was a recipe for attendees to check out of the breakout and check their Blackberries instead.

Solution: Live Spark designed three unique audience-response game shows that took place throughout three of the breakout sessions. They were a baseball-themed game, a quick-quiz game, and a “Get Smart” game.

Each audience member had a keypad waiting for them when they walked in the door. Depending on the game type, audience members were either playing individually (with the score of the highest keypads winning the game) or on teams. The games were introduced first thing, and a sample question was played.

After every presenter, a game show session took place. The content for the game show was based on the presentation the attendees had just heard—with the exception of the final round at the end of the workshop; which was a compendium of questions.

Why it worked: When the first question of the first round was played, and the audience found out how they scored in a dramatic, building fashion, the room erupted into cheers—led by the team with the highest score on that question. The energy, instead of draining with each progressive speaker, was refreshed and renewed in between every presentation. Not only that, but speakers highlighted the content that was going to be in the game show later—bringing out key points that were reinforced through the highly emotional game show experience.

Everyone in the audience was engaged. They were engaged during the game show--each playing along with their own keypad—but, perhaps more importantly, they were engaged DURING the speaker presentations. No one, after all, wanted to miss a question in the game show because they failed to hear a fact or key point during the presentation.

Because game shows are a somewhat-universal medium, there was no difficulty getting even international groups to play along.

Reactions: Seagate--the speakers, audience members, and organizers—were extremely happy with the game show.

”I didn’t believe you when you said they’d start cheering with the first score,” an event organizer remarked, “But this is simply amazing. Everyone is engaged.”


Audience members, knowing the next workshop was going to contain a game of some sort, were a-buzz in the hallways, talking with their peers about which session they had just come from; what game they played, who won, and which questions stumped them.

It was the most widely successful breakout session event that Seagate had ever had, and we’re happy to report that there was a distinct lack of smartphone-checking.
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Drawing a Crowd: Using Game Shows at a Trade Show

Game shows are ideal in training classrooms and large events. They increase content retention and enable our clients  to review, preview and present information in an incredibly engaging format.

However, game shows are also ideal on the floor of a trade show--promoting a new product, increasing interactivity, and ensuring that your booth isn't just a pass-by location.

Having used game shows at trade shows before (the screen cap in this post is from a custom game we designed for Mystic Tan), we can attest to the power of the medium. Game shows:

Attract a crowd: Whether a few people out of a crowd are playing along or everyone in your booth audience is playing along using keypads, game shows naturally attract an audience. Not only do people want to see whether others succeed or not, but they want to test their own knowledge (to see if they're "smarter than the player"--so to speak).

Engage people with your content: Game shows are a great way to uncover "ah-ha!" moments with your product or company by showcasing unique features/benefits in the form of a question. You can use specific content, (i.e. Which of the following is a new product feature, etc.) or general content to drive interest around a topic (i.e. As you see in the screen capture above--the question is tangentially related to tanning, but doesn't cover Mystic Tan's specific product line), or a mixture of both.

Can direct conversations: Game shows can direct meaningful trade show conversations in several ways:
  • Booth personnel can listen to a game show round and then follow up with more information while attendees' attention is piqued (i.e. Yes, the new product has this feature...and did you know it allows you to do x, y and z as well?).
  • Using audience response pads, you can measure what parts of the audience have knowledge gaps and incorporate survey questions to gauge the level of interest in particular topics or products.

Get people to spend more time at a booth: Game shows not only draw a crowd, but we've seen people who won't stop for a free tchotchke or engage with booth personnel spend large chunks of time at a booth when a game show is involved. And that's more opportunity to get qualified leads!
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The Prudential Relocation Services Case Study

Prudential Relocation Services hired Live Spark to produce a game show for their national event. Here is what they did to make their game show a success in a large group.
Company: Prudential Relocation Services
Audience Size: 250

Game Show: Family Feud Style

Game Setup

The audience of 250 people was divided down the middle. One half of the room would be on a team, and the other half on the opposing team. Five game show contestants for each team were pre-selected to come and play up front. An engaging game show host led the teams through the rules and game play; teams had a face-off question to determine which team would get to answer the question, and then the “playing” team tried to uncover all the answers on the Feud board. Pre-determined judges stepped in to give rulings on potentially controversial answers. The winning team went home with “prizes”—the shampoo, conditioner and body lotion in their hotel hospitality kit.


What worked
Pre-selecting contestants: Because contestants were pre-selected, it was assured that they would be willing participants. This also eliminated the potentially messy process of trying to gain spontaneous volunteers. Contestants, however, were not “plants”, and did not have prior knowledge of the game show.

Having a designated host: Having a separate host aside from a “tech” running the game show made sure everything was smooth and seamless. The host could concentrate on engaging and working with the audience and contestants, and the game show tech could focus on running the software without a hitch.

Pre-selecting Judges: We’ve always been huge advocates for having judges during a game show. This way, when there was a controversial decision, or a team gave an answer that was close (but not quite accurate) the host and game show tech didn’t have to enter into the fray.

Inexpensive Prizes: We love the idea of using the hotel hospitality kit as a “prize”. It’s a fun way to give contestants something (and everyone in the audience something) without spending a lot of money on prizes that only increase competition and game show scrutiny. Everyone in the audience on the winning team got this prize—so everyone was cheering along. 
Good Questions: The questions were neither too difficult, nor too easy. They were compelling, clear and easy to read—and still provided entertaining, relevant review information.
 What Could Have Been Done Differently
Consistent rule enforcement: While rules were explained beforehand, and contestants were generally good at following the rules, at one point the host became lax on a few points. Instead of individuals having to guess an answer, teams started to collaborate—which increased the game time and added to a level of chaotic play on stage.

Timers: Answer timers were used only infrequently. This made the game show lag a bit. Teams got used to the idea that they could take as long as they wanted/needed to answer a question instead of answering right away. This led to more discussion and collaboration amongst team members, but lessened the entertainment experience for the audience.

Reviews
Both the audience and the Prudential Relocation Services team were very happy. The game show was used as an after-dinner entertainment piece, but it also helped cement the content from the presentations earlier that day. Overall, Feud and the game show set up was an amazing success.
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Tips for Writing Multiple Choice Questions

--> Hosting a game show in a large event is a great way to keep everyone engaged, review information, and add emotional impact with a bit of competition. When playing to a large audience most game shows are going to feature multiple choice questions. This way, everyone can play along using keypads, the game play moves fairly quickly, and participants get an extra shot of information from your presentations and sessions. 

Here are some tips to keep in mind as you create questions for your multiple choice game in your large event:

Make sure the content is neither too difficult, nor too easy.
Neither type of question—too difficult or too easy—leads to a competitive game. A too-difficult game has very low scores and quickly becomes discouraging.

A too-easy game has very high scores across the board, which is not very competitive.

If a question is going to be one or the other, it’s best to err on the side of easy, which will still engage the participants and can be useful for review.

There are multiple tricks you can employ to make a question more difficult without making it convoluted. These include:
  • Asking for specific or precise recall (i.e. specific budget numbers) with similar distractors
  • Going deeper into the content by asking follow-up questions (start out with an easier question and increase the level of difficulty)
  • Having very good distractors (more on this later, but essentially: having good alternate answer options aside from the correct answer can provide more challenge)
Not every answer has to be the same level of difficulty. It’s okay—and, in fact, sometimes preferable—to have your questions start out at a more basic or novice level and progress in difficulty as the game goes on and the points increase.


Make questions clear.
Don’t seek to increase difficulty by making your question a tongue-twister or a mind-bender. This is particularly important with an international audience but, also, you don’t want your contestants to have to think too hard about parsing the question in relation to the actual answer.

Avoid using negative questions unless they’re clearly and simply stated without additional negatives. For instance, “Which of the following is NOT a benefit of our new HR program?” can be a good question if the answer options are also clear and not-confusing. This, for instance, would be a nightmare question to process as a contestant:

Which of the following is NOT a benefit of our new HR program?
a)    Not getting under 3 weeks off
b)    Having to apply for benefits annually
c)    Not getting to apply for benefits on a monthly basis
d)    Neither having to complete the diversity course nor the culture compliance course if you’ve not done them in the last 6 months
e)    Huh?

Make your questions specific
For instance, asking “Who is the current president of the United States?” is a better question than “Who is the president?” This is not usually as much of an issue in multiple choice questions, where the answer options will often guide a contestant to a correct context—but if answer options are also somewhat ambiguous it can cause confusion.

Make the question short/concise.
Billy may have taken a train to a city and you want to identify that city, but your question should never look like this:

Billy gets on a train going from Orlando to Minneapolis; the train now contains 42 people. On the way, two passengers get off in Little Rock and 4 more get on. If, in St. Louis, thirteen get off and half the sum of the original passengers plus the number of passengers that got on in Little Rock get on, what is the name of the city Billy is going to?

Questions should be as clear and concise as possible—containing only the information necessary to ask the question and find an appropriate answer.

Instead of asking something like:

You’ve run into a person who you think is having a heart attack, what are the three most common signs to determine if this is actually the case?

Ask:

What are the three most common symptoms of a heart attack?


But keep in mind when paring down your questions: don’t use your answers to convey information that the question needs to ask. While you should strive to be direct in your questions, you shouldn’t leave out so much information that it has to be revealed in the answers. For example, instead of asking a question like this:

John Smith is:
a)    The Vice President of Operations for the Eastern Branch
b)    The Vice President of Operations for the Western Branch
c)    The Vice President of Operations for the Southern Branch

Ask:

John Smith is the Vice President of Operations for which branch?
a)    Eastern
b)    Western
c)    Southern


In a scenario where you want to use a longer question—i.e. you have a more complex case study to analyze—you can:
  • Include information before the question is asked, either through a presentation, information screen, or verbal description
  • Break the question into smaller pieces and have multiple questions around the same topic/area of interest
Have only one correct answer.
You may know exactly what answer you’re looking for, but if the question is unclear, or could be thought of in a different way--could someone come up with another answer? Could someone simply thinking outside the box come up with a different, but valid and correct response?

If there are two technically valid answers, either try grouping answer options together, or go with the A) answer a, B) answer b, C) answer a & b, D) none of the above route. HOWEVER…

Avoid all-of-the-above answer options to increase difficulty.
Let’s be honest, when there’s an all-of-the-above option the answer is always all-of-the-above… unless the question is deliberately designed to trick someone. Either way, you end up with a too-easy or too-difficult (by means of trickery and not content--which is frustrating) question.

A few all-of-the-above answer questions can be fine within a game—either to warm the audience up as an easier question, or as a question that leads to a more difficult, specific set of questions. However, they should be avoided in a game designed to be challenging throughout.

Use plausible distractors.
The distractors are the answer options you give that aren’t the real, correct answer. This can be one of the easiest ways to modify the difficulty level within your game show and they make a huge impact on the flow of the question.

In a four-option multiple choice question, at least 3 of the 4 answer options should be plausible, one of THOSE should be correct, and you can either have an additional plausible distractor, or incorporate something off-base or humorous.

To get good plausible distractors:

  • All answers should have roughly the same length and level of detail. i.e. When most people design answer options, the longest is usually the correct one because it’s stuffed with information that needed to be in the explanation before the question. Don’t do that.
  • All numerical answer options should be relatively close.
  • Answer options should skew (plausibly) toward your content. I.e. if you want to make a price seem like a good deal, the distractor options should be greater than the answer.
This:

How much is the NEW price for our X345 Widget?
a)    $145
b)    $165
c)    $195
d)    $250


…sounds much cheaper than this:

How much is the NEW price for our X345 Widget?
a)    $65
b)    $99
c)    $115
d)    $145

Be mindful of your question order
Don’t give anything away in one question that is going to appear in another question.

Proof your questions and answers
This may seem obvious, but when you’re the only one looking at content over and over again, things may slip by you that other people will catch (and could potentially make a difference in the correctness of one answer over another). Have someone proof-read your answers not just for correctness and simple mistakes, but also for difficulty and content.

Watch out for brand standards to avoid having to make last-minute changes. If your company colloquially refers to something by a shortened name, but the Brand Standard doesn’t reflect that, you may end up having to make revisions down the line. For instance, we worked for a credit card company that always referred to their clients as Card Members (capitalization, always) in branded pieces, so questions had to be revised to reflect that standard.
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Case Study: iPad Innovation at the Innovations Fair

Who: UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement
What: Corporate Innovation Day; an internal showcase of innovation designed to foster continual improvement in the healthcare system
When: May 2012

Goals: To showcase the big innovative ideas from Medicare & Retirement, to put the spotlight on the innovators, to use the day as outreach to build the innovation community, and to highlight the flagship Member Journey Map (which demonstrated how innovations evolved from member needs and extensive research).

Summary: Our client wanted to be the star of the Innovations Showcase; noticed everywhere outside the exhibit hall and with an impactful booth inside the exhibit hall.

We created 12 Member Journey "walking billboards" for each area on the member journey map. At 12 different locations, people walked around with iPads around their neck, quickly demonstrating the innovations for their area of focus.

Everyone in the hall got a QR code badge. When the "walking billboards" interacted with someone, they scanned their badge and that person was automatically entered into a drawing. If the person then answered a bonus question about the innovation--they got another entry.

People also got additional entries for visiting the booth and playing a multi-player, interactive, hosted game show.

In the end, both the 12 Member Journey stations and the exhibit hall booth were wildly popular, communicated concise and memorable messaging, and made sure that UHG's M&R group were the most visible innovators around.

More Details:
 
12 Member Journey Stations:
Each station had three people--all wearing color-coded t-shirts. One person was the designated QR code badge hander-outer, one was the QR code scanner/checker and the third person was the iPad presenter.

Badges: Each badge had a QR code and coordinating numbers. One portion of the badge "ripped off" like a raffle ticket. This section contained a place where they could "register" their name and email to associate it with their QR code. None of this had to be done onsite--all the attendees had to do was fill in their name and turn it in (at any point--before or after scans).

QR codes: The QR codes were a way of tracking how many stations people had visited--rewarding those who visited more stations with more drawing entries for a prize. This inspired people to not only visit more stations, but to also answer bonus questions and be active participants with the information. One person at each station had a smart phone (usually their own phone) with a QR reader (downloaded and tested ahead of time). That person would scan a QR badge and then check the person in to that particular station. They would then have the option of giving the person an additional "check in" for answering a bonus question as they listened to the iPad presentations.

By QR code, people were tracked and we could tell exactly which stations they visited, which questions they answered and gauge their level of interest.

iPad presentations:  We designed clean, dynamic iPad presentations that were quick, clean, informative, highly graphic and fun. The iPad presenter had a lanyard configuration (using decorative plate holders) that allowed them to be hands-free with the iPad--only needing to touch to advance or to change the path of their presentation.

At the booth: 
Getting people to interact at the innovation showcase booth in the exhibit hall was key. We needed a strategy that would engage viewers, communicate the message, and get them to spend MORE time at the booth. We developed a splashy, sleek game show format called "Spot the Innovation" that people could play with and against their friends and colleagues. We had two hosts--one to control the game and be game show host, and the other to give supplemental information. Attendees could select a Member Journey Map "bubble"--any of them--and answer a multiple choice question about that bubble. If they got 2 out of 3 questions correct, their badge was scanned--giving them another entry into the drawing.

The booth was also the place that people had to fill out and turn-in their drawing entry slips.

The Feedback: Participants thought the format was both fun and unique. They enjoyed "racing around" the exhibit hall to visit as many Member Journey Stations as they could. We had a remarkable amount of participation (DOUBLE the anticipated number of badges were given out and the number of total scans were amazingly high. It was an overwhelming success!

The client said, "We had an AMAZING day and so much positive feedback about the game and the exciting innovations coming out of M&R. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!"

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Case Study: Intel's Best Buy DSM Event



Intel/Best Buy DSM Event 
Craguns’ Resort, Brainerd, MN 
July 24, 2012

Our Task: 
Intel wanted a way to communicate three key initiatives to Best Buy District Managers within a 45-minute workshop. Since there were other vendors giving similar workshops throughout the day, they needed to make sure that their presentation cut through the noise and stood out. Since the District Managers are in a position of influence in stores, they also needed to make sure their messaging was memorable and “sticky” enough to take back to the stores.

 
Solution: 
Making a presentation into an engagement experience.

We divided the audience into teams and gave them each their own audience-response keypad. Using this keypad, they all played along in a game show (called the Intel Ultra Bowl). In addition to the game show, there was also a live, 3D, AniMated game show host tasked with emceeing the event, hosting the show, adding in humor, and interacting with the audience in real-time. The game show both reinforced and taught the content, and the event was structured so that additional information from Intel experts was placed at key moments of peak attention within the game.
 
Results: 
The audience remained engaged throughout the entire presentation, and their delight and participation in the event was evident in their rave reviews. The buzz created by the workshop lasted long after the event was over. 

According to Intel client:

“The Best Buy folks are still talking about the event even today [3 days post-show],” and “One word: AWESOME! The feedback has been great!”

According to Best Buy:

“I heard GLOWING comments about the Intel Breakout…Thanks for putting together a great experience for our employees.”
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Case Study: Custom Game Production "A Fistful of Dollars"

Company: Toyota (Financial Division)

Event: Sales Team Reward Breakfast

Custom Audience-Response Game: A Fistful of Dollars – Three different game plays

Graphics, Programming, Scripting and Game-play: Designed by Live Spark


Situation: Toyota wanted a way to engage and entertain their top sales reps while at the same time testing their company knowledge and giving them the opportunity to earn some big rewards with that knowledge. This was a great teambuilding event in the morning; it gave the audience a chance to compete on teams and individually and allowed them important, low-stress face-time with top executives.

Toyota had already used a game show the previous two years—both times utilizing either our sister company--LearningWare's--software (Gameshow Pro) or custom software programmed for their event by Live Spark. They wanted something to fit their Clint Eastwood “Western” theme and that would add variety from previous years’ play.

Solution: A custom Fistful of Dollars game show with three completely unique varieties of game play. The audience still played along using audience-response keypads, but there were a few variations:

Target Practice: In this game play variation, we asked extremely difficult multiple choice questions. The audience members, consequently, had three opportunities to get a question right.

The question was be asked the first time, and the audience saw what percentage of their team responded correctly. They did not know whether they—individually—answered correctly. They then got a chance to answer again—and they could either change their answer or stick with it. Again, the percentage of correct answers was be shown. They got one final chance to answer the question, and only their third response counted as correct or incorrect.

Do You Feel Lucky Punk?: (Wager Round) In this game variation, we utilized a team leader—someone with guts, daring, and willingness to take the glory or the fall.

Everyone on the team was shown a question. Before the audience votes, the team leader decided whether he/she thinks that 75% of the team will know the answer or not. If he/she is confident, then they’ll bet high. If not, they’ll bet low.

No guts, no glory. The team leader wrote down or verbally submitted their wager. The question then played out as a typical audience-response question.

Six-Shooter: (Speed Round/Final Round) Teams were asked a group of 6 questions—rapid-fire-style. They were NOT shown the team results of their answers until after the questions are done, at which point the team scores rose (and failed to rise as much as they should) dramatically, determining the final winner.

Results: The game show was entertaining, challenging, tough, competitive and held a level of novelty—being different than the year before. The audience was engaged with each other and management for the entire morning.

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Audience Response Keypads vs. Smartphone Voting

Many companies make an effort to keep up with the latest technology in their events. This can aid in engagement and make the event seem more technologically relevant to a younger or more tech-savvy audience. Audience response systems are a great way to engage everyone in an audience, involve them in competition, and encourage interaction.

We've been hearing quite a bit about using smartphones as audience response devices lately. Naturally, we're intrigued since we've helped clients produce many whole-audience game shows using audience response systems...and we've also seen smartphone voting systems in use--so we have some thoughts.

We love the idea of an audience response device that the attendee can always have with them, keep with them, and is multi-purpose. That's what we love about the smartphone audience response concept.

However, the smartphone technology still has a few things that need to be worked out:
  • Not everyone has a smartphone yet. Hard to believe, but true! Unless the company is providing the smartphone, it can be hard to reconcile the availability of technology AND make sure that the audience response system is compatible across all platforms.
  • Reception. It can be difficult to get reception in an event room. Sometimes impossible. Though smartphones can often hook on to internal wifi, etc, this may pose security issues of another kind. Therefore, you have a legitimate concern with steady connectivity. If someone's cell signal gives out at a game-winning moment... We'd hate to be the judge on that one!
  • With a smartphone, everything is at hand. Literally. It's easy to get distracted by an incoming text, email, the internet, etc. If you're using this in a large event it encourages people to have their cell phones out (when it can already be difficult to maintain their attention spans).
  • Cheater, cheater. . . having a phone in-hand while voting makes sending a game show answer to a friend just a quick-text away. Not that we'd question the integrity of the audience, but stranger things have been known to happen.
While we think smartphone response systems are a great concept, we think they have a long way to go in terms of practical application at this time. For right now, we'll stick with our good ol', reliable, radio-frequency audience response keypads.
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Designing a Brain-Based Event: The Power of Competition

(Note: This entry will also be posted at the Experient E4 Blog)


In the Brain-Based Events Exchange Café at e4, the audience was divided into two teams and we played the Brain-Based Smackdown (an audience response game show). Now, we didn’t just play the game for fun’s sake (though it certainly was a lot of fun), we added both the team interaction and the competition into the presentation to increase the success of the event.

Why put the audience into teams and add competition into an event?
· A person can get lost in an audience of 100…500…1000… It’s more difficult to get lost in a team of 10-20.
· Being on a team provides a personal, supportive environment at an event.
· Having team competition makes attendees accountable to their peers for engaging in the event.
· Competition reinforces content and adds energy, excitement, emotion and engagement.

Ways to add competition:
Game shows: Game shows are a great way for teams to earn points in a team competition. You can either add a single game to a workshop/breakout session, or have a game that runs throughout the day (previewing information, reviewing information, teaching information, etc). You can use the same format in different rounds (i.e. Multiple matches of a Jeopardy-style game) or you can use different game formats. Game shows can even be structured in tournament style to make them an event within the training.
Audience-response game shows can be particularly effective. Everyone has their own game pad so everyone plays along (and individual scores go towards the team tally).

Knowledge Bucks: A great way to keep individuals engaged and participating in a less structured session is "Monopoly money" or Knowledge Bucks. This funny-money can be given out when individuals respond to a question, arrive on time, etc. Team members can put them in a designated box, and they are added to the team's total score. These can be tallied during breaks.
Energizers: Have the teams organize a post-lunch cheer, with the most creative, on-point and well-executed cheer receiving the most points. Have a paper-toss where members write questions on paper, crumple them up and toss them around until a designated time period passes and one person from each team must answer the question in their hand--for a certain number of points a piece. Activities like this both contribute to the energy of the room and the team competition.
Leader Board: Have a leader board that shows the tally of team scores for all activities--game shows, knowledge bucks, team cheers, etc. Update it at breaks so teams can see where they stand and to stoke a little competition. This doesn't have to be anything fancy--a grid on a white board or a PowerPoint slide will do nicely.

Dan Yaman is the Founder and CEO of Live Spark, the event design firm that produced Eddie and Ellie the eagles. Live Spark also consults on presentations and events, designs custom game and audience-response experiences and more. You can check out our blog for more tips and event insights—or check back here for more postings to come.
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AllPlay Web: Curing the Common Webinar


Live Spark
has redesigned a lot of events over the years. When the economy started turning down, however, events followed; a result of travel budgets decreasing on a great scale.

Not to worry, however. Live Spark doesn't really specialize in *events* exclusively (though we make a huge impact in that space). No, what we've always been concerned about is presentation; finding ways to communicate information in a more efficient, interactive, effective way, ensuring that MORE of the crucial points are retained by the intended audience.

So when live, face-to-face events started being supplemented or replaced by webinars--or web conferencing--we found a niche where we could also make a difference. After all--what is a webinar but a presentation?

What we found was that a lot of webinar hosts were making the same mistakes in a webinar as they were in their face-to-face presentations. There was PowerPoint--and how!--very little interaction, and no call to action, review or accountability.

But a webinar--more than anything--cannot be a presentation as usual. Attendees aren't in an event space--eyes dutifully turned towards the stage and away from their Blackberries because they hold a sense of obligation to look like they're paying attention. They're in front of their own computers with the great, powerful and endlessly diverting internet in front of them. With email! And games! And... well, one gets the idea. There is no way to ensure that they're paying attention.

The need to engage webinar attendees is greater than ever. They need interaction. They need accountability. They need measurability. They need feedback. They need camraderie. They need...competition and fun and engagement and...and... and....

They need AllPlay Web.

Developed by Live Spark's sister company--LearningWare--AllPlay Web allows you to engage every webinar attendee with an online game show experience.

· Each webinar attendee participates using their own onscreen keypad.

· Individual player results are tracked for accountability and analysis.

· Works with every Webinar provider: Webex, Gotomeeting, Elluminate, etc.

It's a great resource that we've begun to utilize in re-designing our client's webinars to be brain-based, interactive and anything BUT a presentation as usual.

If you’re conducting webinars, you must check this out.

Watch a video here:

Or go to www.learningware.com and sign up for a webinar to see it in action.
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