Remote meetings highlighted the importance of attendee engagement to all of us. When you’re in a remote meeting, it is all too easy to switch off from a rather dull discussion, and start scrolling through your phone, reading your social media feed, or even playing with your cat. 

Suddenly, the need to engage your audience was paramount. Around the world, people shared advice about keeping remote presentations short and interactive. However, as the world gradually opens up to in-person interaction again, there is one thing that we need to remember: engaging your audience is not just for remote events. You may think you have a captive audience—but they can easily disengage even in a conference room. 

The need for audience engagement is here to stay—and so are tools designed to help, such as Slido. Here’s our starter for ten on what its makers describe as ‘your go-to interaction app for hybrid meetings’.

Audience engagement tools for online, hybrid and in-person meetings

Slido provides engagement tools like live polls, Q&A, quizzes and word clouds. The company’s marketing material describes it as helping you to start a conversation with your audience. These tools are designed to allow you to capture audience views in several different ways—and then share them with your audience in a neat feedback loop. The use of word clouds is a clever visual way to highlight the main priorities, and there is plenty of variety to keep everyone awake and engaged. Audience feedback from a recent event suggests that it is popular with both audiences and presenters. 

Audiences can highlight their priorities

This may be quite a novel idea, but we favour the view that meetings are for the benefit of attendees. In other words, meetings and presentations should address the needs of the audience. It is therefore helpful to have tools that can tell you in the moment what attendees want to discuss. In Slido, attendees can ask questions, which can even be anonymous. They can also use the upvote function to prioritise questions for response, including those asked by others. This therefore highlights the most important topics.

Some of the Q&A functions are a bit ‘clunky’

One review on TrustRadius majors on the question function. It notes that there are some difficulties with the function, including questions ‘disappearing’ once the organiser marks them as answered. It is also hard for presenters to keep up with new questions being added to the list. Interestingly, the author also notes that it would be helpful to have a function to group questions. It seems possible that the designers believed that the voting tool would achieve this—but clearly not everyone reads previous questions or comments before starting to type. 

Integration with major software packages, for ease of use

Slide integrates easily with Microsoft Teams, PowerPoint, Google Slides, and Webex. This makes it possible to use it as part of a remote meeting or presentation, without meeting attendees having to download any other software, or even log in. It is easy to use for organisers, presenters and audience. Reviews suggest that the integration is not always as smooth as would be ideal, but also that it is improving with each software update—meaning that the company is well aware of the problem, and committed to addressing it.

Freemium model

You can use Slido’s Basic plan for free ‘forever’, meaning there is no obligation to join ‘later’. However, reviews on TrustRadius suggest that regular users may find that it pays to bite the bullet, and pay for more. One reviewer said, “I wish they’d increase the number of free polls or reduce the fees”, suggesting that the free package may be a bit limited. 

Analytics for more insights for presenters and organisers

Slido’s analytics function allows organisers to find out how many people engaged with the tools, including polls and quizzes. Quiz and poll results, and the audience questions, can also be exported for later analysis to provide further insights. Again, several reviews suggest that the analytics function is still in development, and could be improved further. We can only hope that the developers are paying attention to reviews, and that this will improve over time, because the idea is extremely useful.