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Is there still a place for voting keypads?

By Kathryn Voce, business development manager, Group Dynamics

It seems that this is a popular time of the year for people to start doubting the relevancy of the interactive solutions that started “eventtech” all those years ago. Last year, I heard people state that voting/polling was not really used anymore and should therefore not be a key consideration when selecting your on site solution. Following this, we wrote an article about whether we thought this was the case.

This year it looks like voting keypads are in the firing line! I recently read an online guide to the most common event technology terms where they discussed audience response systems. In this section, the post stated that event apps had replaced the need for separate clickers and this got me thinking, is there still a place for voting keypads in events?

Let’s take a look at both sides of the argument.


Most people in the UK use a smartphone, with a 2016 study conducted by Deloitte finding that 81% of people have access to a smart device*. This means that less hardware is required as the majority of the people in the room have access to device that can be utilised for polling. In principle, this makes the whole process of incorporating interactivity into an event simpler for the event organiser. It also means that the organiser will spend less money on hardware.

Event apps are more than just a polling solution and often integrate a wide number of other features into the solution to add value for the attendee as all the necessary information and tools they will need can be found in one place – on the app!

Event apps with voting capabilities and web based voting solutions are also very useful for hybrid events or those being live streamed. This is because people that are not located at the main event venue can also take part in polls as these solutions are internet based and location is not barrier to participation.


Voting keypads are based on a simple design that often resembles a telephone keypad. This means that all attendees instantly understand how to use the device making them simple and easy to use. These devices are also perfectly suited to meet the requirements for polling as they were designed specifically for that purpose.

They also do not have any barriers to participation as they are inclusive in the truest sense of the word. It does not matter what device the attendees already own as this will not affect their ability to participate as they are provided with all that they will need.

These systems do not require the attendee to log in, there are not any convoluted journeys to reach the point where the attendees can vote and they are not required to give the solution provider any permissions to allow them to participate.

Given the inclusivity and control of these systems, polling can happen quickly as the keypads are ready for the attendee to vote as soon as the poll starts with response time periods often being as low as 10 seconds.

With one USB connection it is possible to talk to, control and get responses from thousands of devices instantly. The standard of the Wi-Fi network and the internet bandwidth that are available does not impact upon the solution as these are not required, thus removing a common issue that event professionals have to plan for when utilising internet based solutions.

Companies also spend a lot of money on security systems as they can’t afford for their data to be leaked and it is unlikely that attendees will have the same level of security on their own devices. This is not an issue when using a voting keypad as the system in place can be set up with the necessary security levels to meet the companies’ requirements.

So what have I concluded from this?

The old British saying ‘horses for courses’ springs to mind as the best solution to use depends upon the type of event, who the client is, who the attendees are and what the requirements are. In light of this, I would say there is definitely still a place for voting keypads. In fact we regularly receive requests for our keypad solution, which supports this conclusion.

If you are utilising a solution that requires attendees to download an app to their own device in order to participate in polls, it is also important to consider download rates and engagement levels to determine whether these are acceptable to the client. Event apps are still only downloaded by around 50% of delegates and not all those that download it actively use it during an event+.

So what will be for the chop next? I guess we will have to wait until this time next year to find out!