The Anti-Snooze Button

Before you plan on grabbing some sleep during your next meeting featuring a PowerPoint presentation, beware: You may be expected to participate.

TurningPoint, an audience response system designed to work within Microsoft Office, allows the presenter to build audience survey questions into a presentation. The pop-quiz or opinion-survey results are aggregated in real time as participants click their answers on credit-card-size ­remote devices. The presenter even has the ability to register each person to a particular device, and can track his or her participation and information retention.

According to Tony DeAscentis, vice president of marketing at Youngstown, Ohio-based Turning Technologies LLC, these sorts of systems have existed for around 15 years, but the proprietary software required a special technician, and the audience response devices “were about the size of bricks.”

Turning Technologies ships the majority of its product to higher-­education institutions, but corporate clients are catching on, too, as companies look for ways to engage employees and clients alike during meetings. “People are actually looking forward to meetings,” says Doug Bardwell, director of Internal Communications at Forest City Enterprise, in Cleveland, a $1 billion real-estate company. “They’re not falling asleep, playing with their BlackBerrys or going for coffee. The feedback is just the icing on the cake at that point.”

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