Jessica Linda

Every year, Circus Star USA brings the up-and-coming stars of the circus community together to compete for cash prizes in a stunning display of discipline and athletic ability.

Since 2014, producers Jessica Piekos and Linda Souza (both performers themselves) have showcased the best acrobats in the world onstage at the iconic El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood. This year, the show was opened up to viewers all over the world through a livestream, giving thousands the opportunity to vote for their favorite acrobatic performances.

How do you combine in-house and livestream audience votes to select winners in real-time?

Circus acts are already filled with drama and tension, especially when there’s cash on the line. But the team wondered: how could the show’s producers crank the drama up a notch while making the experience interactive for the audience?

At the same time, adding a new livestream this year presents its own challenges. The team already uses Poll Everywhere for the in-house audience, but they also want to get more people in on the action. How do they include livestreamers in the voting as seamlessly as the in-house audience?

Use one poll, multiple audiences: the same voting experience for in-house and livestreaming attendees

During the competition, 12 aspiring performers are divided into groups. Before the show starts, a quick test poll is run with the audience to make sure everything is working smoothly.

The show is split into halves. Just before intermission, the audience and the celebrity panel vote for their favorite performer, with the winner moving onto the finals, selected by an open poll. After intermission, the second group performs their gravity-defying acts, and the polling process is repeated.

As both audience members and livestreamers watch their votes pour in in real-time, the audience gasps are audible throughout the theatre.

"It's exciting when you see a performer start to take the lead, and then somebody else shoots forward in the voting. For the audience, it's pretty intense." Linda Souza

Circus star 2015 winner

In the final round of voting, the poll is closed and results are hidden to heighten the dramatic effect. The poll is left open for about 60 seconds, after which an envelope with the winner’s name is presented onstage… with a little fanfair added, of course.

Circus star winner

This year, that envelope contained the name of Vaudeville Circus, the new reigning Circus Star USA champion. Congratulations to the lucky winner, and to runner-up Rachel Gauthier and third-place winners Ashley and Steven!

Expanding Your Audience with Live Polling

In past years, each Circus Star USA audience consisted of a couple hundred fans. This year, with the addition of livestreaming, countless others were able to vote along with the in-studio audience, thanks to a devoted team of producers and Poll Everywhere.

Circus star 2015 voter

With traditional polling methods, the addition of the livestream might be an obstacle too tough to overcome. But with Poll Everywhere, it’s as easy as a man in the moon.

How can you do this?

Step 1

Create your free Poll Everywhere account.

Step 2

To limit voting to only those audience members who have registered, set up a place for them to register prior to the event using a registration link. Once you have the link, you can either email it to your audience prior to the event, or create a webpage specifically for registration.

Step 3

Set up polling, and remember to check and doublecheck for a good internet connection. If people are participating remotely, anyone viewing the live stream will see the polling chart update in real-time.

Step 4

At the start of the event, give instructions on how to vote - both to the live audience and to those watching on the web. You may want to kick things off with an icebreaker question as soon as the audience walks in to help them understand how the voting works, and to ensure that the critical polls the more critical event polls go smoothly.

Step 5

Poll away, and may the best performer win.

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