The Coalition for Community Energy (C4CE) exists to help small communities harness renewable, sustainable energy like wind and solar power. Many communities in Europe and Australia have already reduced their reliance on the national grid, and even begun to produce a surplus of energy to sell.

C4CE hosts an annual Community Energy Conference to help more communities get the information and resources they need in order to build systems of their own. In 2014, C4CE brought in Geoff Brown (Rusty Brown Consulting) and Mark Spain (Global Learning) to make the discussion as successful as possible.

A warm-up, and a very simple poll.

Geoff kicked things off with a couple of easy text-to-word-cloud polls. He asked introductory questions, like “Where are you from?” That got the texting codes into everyone’s phones, which made the next polls even easier to answer. Then he added a multiple choice poll to find out how much experience the attendees already had in the energy industry.

The most important poll was conducted during the expert panelists’ time on stage. Geoff posted a simple open-response poll with the prompt: “Emergent questions?” And as each speaker on the panel took a turn, the others watched to see what was really on the minds of the guests.

A shift in content meets real needs.

The questions that the delegates asked in the Emergent Questions poll weren’t exactly what the panelists had planned to speak about. But because of the live poll, the experts were able to shift the discussion to the most necessary topics—namely, finding financing and overcoming obstacles to renewable energy systems.

Geoff sums up his experience with Poll Everywhere, “You’re able to understand your audience, and deliver a story that resonates.” And the presenters’ reaction? “That was terrific.”

How can you do this?

Step 1

Set up a warm-up poll to encourage the audience to start responding. Make the question simple, and use a lively display setting like Text-to-Word Cloud.

Step 2

As the speakers begin to give their presentations, open up a free-response poll, with a simple prompt like: “Questions for our experts? Ask away!”

Step 3

Make the poll visible to speakers as well as attendees, so that as one panelist speaks, the others can choose a question to answer from the poll, or adjust their presentation to speak to the most pressing concerns.

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