Over here! Second-screen technology for events

Delegates glued to their smartphones? Second-screen technology may be the answer. Corbin Ball looks at the best apps for keeping your audience engaged…

The first screen at an event is the stage, presenter and the presentation screen. The second screens are mobile devices (typically tablets or smartphones) that are used by the audience members to see and interact with the presentation content. This usually requires a second screen app that can provide some or all of the following features:

  • Slide sharing where audience members can see, save and annotate the presentation slides on their individual second screens.
  • Polling and surveys
  • Text-based Q&A with audience up-voting (other audience members can see questions and vote them to be answered first).
  • Note-taking
  • Games and quizzes
  • Analytics that can gauge individual and collective audience participants level of engagement, specific slides of interest and, in some case much more.

Second screen technology can keep audience members engaged while providing lots of useful data on attendee interest level, questions, and learning achieved.

App-based second screen technology:

There are more than 100 apps that provide a Swiss Army knife array of features for event attendees to download to their smartphones. They include an agenda, speaker/exhibitor information, polling capabilities, networking options and more. However, only a few of provide second screen capabilities.

Evenium ConnexMe
ConnexMe provides online slide distribution and digital note-taking on the slides for many presentation tools (PowerPoint, Keynote, PDFs, Prezi). There’s no need to upload slides in advance, no special hardware, and no software plug-ins. There are multiple audience response polling options (ranking polls, word clouds for open questions, quizzes, pie/bar charts for single or multiple-choice answers and session evaluations).  Additionally, there are engagement tools such as audience-generated heat maps in response to polls, presenter and attendee annotation of slides, the ability for speakers to use advance the slides using his/her smartphone/tablet.

The system provides text-based Q&A with audience upvoting raising the questions with the most votes to the top. Presenters can push questions to the screen one at time full screen, or show them as banners, or as a question wall. Questions can be moderated, sored and filtered. Questions from Twitter can also be incorporated. Photos can also be sent by participants for view on the screen.

The presentation can also be recorded and lived streamed with slides with no special hardware However, in addition, it is part of an overall event app which includes agendas, push notifications, private messaging to other attendees, session evaluations and event analytics. ConnexMe is a native event app (both iOS and Android) as well as HTML5 with web applications for the interactive features.

The damage:
A single event license starts at $999, but with the full range of features for up to 1,000 participants and premium support include is $2,000. Annual fees with unlimited events start at $4,800-9,600.

Event Pilot by ATIV

ATIV Event Pilot is a mobile app company designed specifically for large scientific meetings including detailed listing of abstracts, poster sessions and more. However, one of their features includes the ability to share PowerPoint presentations with bookmarking and note-taking on the slides offline. Basic analytics include tracking the number of bookmarked slides.

The damage:

Depends on the number of slides. Up to 1,000 files starts at $1,599 including mobile optimization for offline in app use. Additionally, second screens can be open inside the app for polling, surveys, streaming services. Apps start under $4,000.

Stand-alone Second Screen Apps:

There are also individual second screen apps, often web-based with no download required, for audience interactivity using their smartphones. These include:


Glisser is an easy-to-use, reliable and inexpensive second screen option for events. The real-time screen sharing works by the presenter uploading a PowerPoint, Keynote, Google Slides or other presentation programme. The system allows for animations, transition and embedded video as well as digital Q&A, live polling, interactive quizzes, twitter feeds, audience note-taking and analytics. Attendees access through a web app with a custom short web address (no download required). Good quality Wi-Fi access for attendees greatly enhances the experience.

The app can be custom branded with color, background images, and more.  Analytics include: number of users, engagement level, percentage of attendees asking questions, percentage of attendees responding to polls, number of posts to social media channels. Name and email of participants can optionally be captured as well.

The damage:

All of the above features are included for free. More features, including custom branding, Q&A moderation, live slide tweeting, event agenda, multiple rooms, full PowerPoint integration, full account management and more for a full-day event is about £500/$700.

MeetingPulse is a web-based interactivity app with many options. However, slide sharing to second screens is not one of them. MeetingPulse’s second screen feature is their real-time Pulse product which allows the speaker to see in real-time the ‘pulse’ of the room. The attendees’ web app (no download required) displays four buttons. Participants can vote any time they: like the content being delivered, disagree with it, are confused by it, or want the speaker to speed up. The speaker can see the audience sentiment immediately and react as it happens.

This web-based system is affordable and provides a range of options including live polling and social Q&A where audience members can upvote the questions they like. There are also live raffles and quizzing capabilities. There are lead capture capabilities if desired, and also raffle capabilities to randomly pick a member of the audience. PDFs and other documents can be distributed through the app as well.

At the end of the presentation, the speaker or event host can see the spikes of audience emotions correlated to the timeline of the presentation. Poll results, questionnaire responses, questions, votes and participant profiles are all saved in the report as well. Analytics include poll responses, survey responses, quiz responses, audio recording with a sentiment timeline, participant activity,

The damage:
Monthly pricing for the basic version starts at free for events up to 50 persons, $149*

for up to 150 persons, $379 for up to 300 persons (with more engagement and support features), and $749* for their enterprise version with up to 1,000 persons.