Tips for Smooth Sessions

Learning Statement: In this article we cover some tips to help you run more effective sessions.
Audience: This article is aimed at all OMBEA users.

Use the simulation mode before you start

OMBEA’s Simulated Data feature can help you test your timing prior to actually giving your presentation with an audience.

As you run through them, make sure that the charts don’t spill over into your text, and that the questions meet their aims and objectives.

If you are using OMBEA ResponsePad or OMBEA ResponseApp for the first time, we recommend running at least one full simulation beforehand to give you confidence of the timings and interactions in your presentation. 

Run a Polling Test before you start

It’s always a good idea to test the polling before you start a live session. You can do this in one of two ways:

  1. Launch a multiple-choice polling slide and press a button on each handset.
  2. Use the Poll Test feature in OMBEA (found by clicking on the ResponsePad button on the OMBEA Response toolbar.

When running a test you might find some ResponsePads are failing to vote. The most likely explanation is that they are on the wrong radio channel. The easiest way to set them back to the correct channel is as follows:

  1. On the OMBEA Response toolbar, click the ResponsePad button
  2. Change the Mode (at the bottom of the window) to Synchronisation. Click Start.
  3. On each ResponsePad, locate the yellow Synchronisation button, in the bottom right corner indicated by two arrows forming a circle.
  4. Hold this button down for 3-4 seconds, until the ResponsePad LED starts to flash amber. You may now release the button.
  5. The ResponsePad LED will turn green for 2 seconds to indicate it has successfully paired with the new ResponseLink channel.
  6. Repeat with all ResponsePads where a channel sync is needed.

To save time, you can run your polling test at the same time as laying out the handsets in a large room. Put any handsets that need synchronising to one side and synchronise them all together at then end of your test!

Teach them to vote

Before you ask anything critical it’s always handy to let your audience practice voting with a couple of non-critical questions.

They will become confident with the OMBEA ResponsePads or ResponseApp, and you’ll get to know exactly how many people are in the room so you’ll know when to close polling in subsequent questions. You’ll also get to check that everything is working as you expect which will boost your confidence as you move through your slides.

When doing so, teach them how to vote as well as how to change their vote. The following script is an example of what you might say:

When my question comes up, think about your answer and then press that button on your ResponsePad. If you want to change your mind, while my polling is open and you can see the green box, just press a different button to send me your new response. It will replace your previous vote.

If you have a multiple response or priority slide, the explanation is a little deeper. The following should help as an example for a Priority Slide.

When my question comes up I want you to pick your top three options, in order of preference. So, for example, if your answer is ‘A’, then ‘F’, then ‘B’, just press A, then F, then B, in that order. If you want to change your mind or you think you’ve made a mistake then you can delete your response and start again. To do so simply press an extra option. The light on your ResponsePad will go red momentarily to confirm you’ve deleted all three responses and you can start again.

For ideas on what to ask as a test question, see our article on Ideas for Conferences.


If you go to the trouble of asking a question, and the audience goes to the trouble of giving a considered response, then stop and pay attention. At the very least you should provide some comment on what you find interesting about the results but you can go even further by using this as an opportunity to involve the audience.

For example, invite verbal feedback from the audience once the chart is visible. Rather than a generic, “Does anybody have any comments about that?”, try and focus on one response option. Try, “Any ideas as to why ‘personal jet packs’ was the most popular option?” (This isn’t a real example but we’d love to be part of a vote where ‘personal jet packs’ was a real option. It would be great wouldn’t it?!

This works better with a ‘warmer’ audience, i.e. one that has already started to engage verbally with you. If you ask the whole audience a question like this too early, you may get very little feedback.

As an alternative to throwing such a question ‘out to the floor’, get your group warmed up by inviting them to discuss the results chart with each other. If you do this early in your session and then keep the tone going, you will be surprised by the amount of interaction, collaboration and networking that goes on.