Smartphones: The speaker’s friend?

Ten years ago, when the iPhone was newly released and cell phones were in their relative infancy, it was common to hear event moderators, emcees, meeting leaders, and presenters remind audience members to turn off their mobile devices. That request is an anachronism today.

Mobile devices have become a fixture in our lives. Rather than fighting their use, speakers must be more captivating than a little screen. And, they should harness mobile-device technology to make their presentations even more powerful. Here are two internet-based platforms that speakers can encourage audience members to access via a smartphone, tablet, or laptop during a presentation to increase interactivity:


Ideal for training programs and informative speeches, Kahoot allows presenters to create multiple-choice quizzes (also known as “learning games” on the company website) that session attendees can play to increase engagement, check for learning, and reinforce key topics. Audience members log in at via an internet-connected device with a four-digit pin number provided by the presenter. Major Kahoot pluses:

  • It is free.
  • It is easy to create a quiz; the application is intuitive.
  • It is fun; the colors and fonts are playful and lighthearted.
  • There is no requirement for players to download an application.
  • Players don’t need to log in; they just need a game pin number to participate.
  • Participants don’t need to be in the same physical location, so it works with webinars.

The presenter shares a website that displays quiz questions; audience members enter their answer selection on a personal device; and the aggregated responses are tallied on the screen, along with the names of players who had the most correct responses (and fastest responses in cases of a tie). Kahoot offers an excellent way to increase engagement, even with large audiences, and allows for friendly competition. Be sure to bring some relevant books, candy, or fun tchotchkes to award quiz “winners.”


If you want a better Q&A session following a speech, for a panel of experts, or during a town-hall style meeting, consider This platform allows audience members to submit questions with their internet-connected device and even vote for submitted questions that they would most like to hear speakers discuss. The benefits, according to the company’s website, are to: “crowdsource the best questions from your audience,” “maximize the effectiveness of your Q&A time,” and “remove the fear of asking questions.”

Cool features:

  • It has a free plan, plus paid options with enhanced features.
  • It is easy to set up an event; the application is intuitive and video tutorials are useful.
  • It is professional; the interface colors and fonts are muted, crisp, and simple.
  • There is no requirement for players to download an application.
  • Users don’t need to log in; they just need an event code to participate.
  • Users can submit a question with their name identified or anonymously.
  • Users can “like” questions submitted by other attendees.
  • The moderator can easily find the most popular and most recent questions.
  • Paid options allow for a moderator to weed out off-topic or inappropriate questions.

The speaker and / or moderator sets up an event and shares a four-digit event code with audience members, who enter that code at on their internet-enabled personal device. Then, audience members can submit questions, see other submitted questions, and vote for the questions they most want answered.

The speaker and / or moderator monitors and selects questions to answer using the administrator page of on any internet-enabled device (ideally a tablet or computer with a larger screen). A paid option allows the moderator to review and approve submitted questions before they go live in the queue of questions viewable to other audience members and the presenter. This option works best when the speaker(s) has a dedicated moderator to manage this process; it’s too much to do from the stage. is a no brainer if you want to engage more listeners, especially those who aren’t comfortable asking a question before an audience; identify the most pressing issues the audience wants to focus on during the Q&A session; and prevent long-winded or off-topic questions that eat up limited time available for Q&A.

As you strive to take advantage of Kahoot, and other web-based platforms in your presentations, remember that not all audience members have access to smartphones or have the tech savvy to navigate unfamiliar websites during a speech. Additionally, not all event venues have cellular service or internet connectivity. Make sure you conduct thorough research to determine if web-based applications accessed via smartphone, tablet, or laptop will be a good fit for your audience and venue. Consider introducing the technology to audience members before the presentation, when possible. And, even if most attendees are equipped to engage with web-based platforms, make sure you offer analog alternatives for attendees who are not.

These are just two web-based tools that speakers can utilize to make their presentations more interactive and powerful, although there are many more available and surely new ones coming online all the time. If you have used other great tools that harness the power of mobile technology to the benefit of a presentation, please share them with us at: