When your job (or schoolwork) involves giving presentations to rooms full of more-or-less interested parties, you know how hard it can be to maintain a constructive level of audience attention. The economical cloud audience response system (ARS) provided by the mad scientists at PollEverywhere is a great way to spice up a session with quick, engaging multiple choice and full-text questions.
PollEverywhere's polls display wonderfully on the web (if you've got the Flash player) and do well in Windows versions of PowerPoint, where the appropriate ActiveX control to embed the remote Flash animation is available. For Mac presentation apps, however, the path is not so smooth. Prior versions of the company's Mac Presenter app used a QuickTime workaround to display polls, but it was somewhat clunky and did not automatically cue up when the polling slide appeared on screen.
Time for an improved approach. With the December 2011 release of the all-new Mac Presenter application, the polling experience is now hands-free and incredibly simple. The Mac Presenter app connects to your PollEverywhere hosted account and lets you embed polling references into Keynote or PowerPoint slides with a single click -- the poll identifiers end up as a block of XML code in the slide notes, so you can easily move polling slides from deck to deck. The rest is easy: you just draw a solid color box on your slide where you want the poll to show up. Like magic, when you present that slide, the Mac Presenter app will scale the poll display to cover just that placeholder box.
True, it's a smidge more effort than the Windows PowerPoint configuration, but it's definitely worth it. PollEverywhere offers a free plan that allows up to 40 responses per poll, and business pricing for higher service levels starts at $15 per month. K-12 and higher-ed discounts are also available.
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