interesting topics for a presentation

How to mine interesting topics for a presentation from your future audience with Poll Everywhere

Your favorite conference calls to ask if you’d like to deliver a presentation. You breathlessly tell them that it would be an honor.

When you hang up the phone, panic strikes.

What in the world are you going to talk about?

You check the deepest recesses of your mind for interesting topics for a presentation.  All you can come up with is The History of Cheese as it Relates to Modern Dance (no good – everyone knows that’s a played-out topic).

If only you could find out what your audience is already talking about, a way to put your ear to the ground and simply listen for an interesting presentation topic to come your way.

Oh, yeah. You do have an ear to the ground. You have Poll Everywhere.


Find out what your audience cares about

One thing separates average presentations from great ones: great presenters take their cues from the audience.

Not from the material, not from their vast stores of knowledge on the subject, not from assumptions about what the audience wants to hear. On actual, real feedback from the people they’re about to engage in a two-way dialogue.

If you walk into a bookstore and the bookseller points you to a book you’ve asked for, that’s a good experience. If you walk into a bookstore and the bookseller points you to a book before you’ve even mentioned it, that’s a magical experience.

Your audience wants that magical experience, too. They want you to engage them on subjects they care about, subjects they’re thinking about.

How do you find out what they’re thinking? You ask them.

Every Poll Everywhere poll or survey can be shared using a single URL. That makes it perfect for email. If you have access to an email list of attendees through your conference administrator, you’re golden.

Tip: Make sure your PollEv plan includes enough responses to accommodate the number of replies you might receive. Remember, too, that response rates tend to be lower for email. If half of your audience replies to your email, that’s a great response. So, for an email list of 100, plan for up to 50 responses.


Create a poll, asking your own version of the following questions:

  • What would you like me to talk about during the conference?
  • What do you spend the most time thinking about?
  • What would make the most interesting topics for a presentation?
  • What have you always wondered about [topic]?

Get the shareable link for your poll on the My Polls page. Hover over the poll and share, edit, and duplicate options will appear.

interesting topics for a presentation: sharing a poll

Click ‘Share’ and you’ll see this:

interesting topics for a presentation: sharing a poll

Copy that link and paste it in the email. When your audience clicks it, they’ll see this:

interesting topics for a presentation: audience poll view

You might want to give a soft or hard deadline for answers, depending on how much time you have left before the conference. You’ll need to allow yourself time to actually create the presentation, after all.

Ask your audience for interesting topics for a presentation via Twitter

You only need two things to mine your audience for interesting topics for a presentation: a link and an audience. You have Poll Everywhere, so you have the link.

And your conference has the audience, thanks to their official Twitter account. Ask if you can enlist their help by using the account to tweet a link to your survey (or ask if they’ll tweet it for you). This is a great way to engage your audience, before the presentation even exists. If email isn’t your thing, Twitter’s a great way to go.

Already have an interesting topic for your presentation? Add new depth by mining your audience

Already decided on an interesting presentation topic? Poll your audience to flesh it out.

Say you’re giving a talk on sustainability. You’ve already got a foundation for your presentation, but you’d like to give it some wings.

You can use this technique to find out what your audience is thinking about well before the presentation.

interesting topics for a presentation: q&a poll

Tip: Poll Everywhere’s Q&A polls are perfect for this. Your audience can upvote the best ideas so you get a quick sense of which topics are the most popular with your audience. And if you see something intriguing further down the list, you can pin it to the top to keep it visible.


Do I need a Premium Plan for my conference?

Depends. Some factors will come down to personal preference:

  • Do you want to run a report on your responses after the conference?
  • Do you want a custom username for your polls to make responding easier?
  • Do you want to email or phone support?

Depending on your answers to those questions, the free plan may or may not be appropriate.

Some factors of a Premium Plan might be a necessity, though:

  • Do you need moderation to filter out inappropriate responses?
  • Will there be an audience of more than 25 people?
  • Do you need to allow more than 25 responses per poll?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, you’ll want to sign up for a Premium Plan before the big show.

This is what it means to engage an audience

Engaging your audience means more than adding interactivity during your presentation. That’s a critical step, of course. But engagement can also start well before you step onstage.

The goal: find out what matters to your audience, then talk about that. The solution: shareable polls.

Happy polling!

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