Shakespeak is a PowerPoint plug-in that allows audiences to interact with your content by submitting answers to questions via an online platform. Responses can be sent in via text, twitter or the Shakespeak website.
What does it do?
Shakespeak is accessed via the PowerPoint ribbon or toolbar, from where users can select the option to add a vote or message slide. Vote slides allow audiences to select from a pre-defined list of answers. Message slides allow participants to answer an open question, or post a comment.
The questions and answers are created in PowerPoint via a plug-in and inserted as slides into the PowerPoint deck. The plug-in automatically generates joining instructions for the audience, who can respond to a question by either texting a number, tweeting with a specified hashtag, or by submitting an answer on the Shakespeak website using a code.
Responses are recorded via the online Shakespeak platform, and automatically fed back to the presenter, who, depending on the type of question slide, can select which responses to publish, or reveal the results of a poll.
Windows XP, Vista or 7
Microsoft Office 2000, XP, 2003, 2007 or 2010
Users must be connected to the internet to work with Shakespeak, and it is recommended that presenters have a second monitor set up to manage responses.
It is also worth noting that if you have Office 2007 or higher, Excel should be installed in order to use Shakespeak on your computer. With Office 2003 and lower, users must have the graph.exe program from Microsoft. This program is free and is already installed on most computers.
To install Shakespeak, navigate to shakespeak.com and click ‘Try it now’. The installation file will download automatically. Shakespeak requires PowerPoint to be closed during installation.
Once PowerPoint is re-opened, Shakespeak will have been installed as a plug-in and have its own tab on the ribbon. In PowerPoint 2003, a new ‘Shakespeak’ toolbar will have been generated.
Shakespeak is free to install, and to run interactive sessions for up to 20 participating audience members. If a participant uses more than one method of responding to a question or submitting an answer (via the web, Twitter, or text), it will be counted by Shakespeak as two participants and contribute to the quota for free usage.
How easy is it to use?
Shakespeak is easy to use, as it integrates straight into PowerPoint. The two types of slide – question or message – can be easily added from within PowerPoint itself by using the Shakespeak tab.
Adding a question can be done by clicking ‘Add a vote’ on the Shakespeak tab. A popup box will appear with a list of instructions to follow, from where users can add question and answer options that will appear to the audience. Shakespeak automatically inserts the questions slide and the results slide for each question in your current PowerPoint template style.
It also inserts a slide detailing the voting options to the audience. Shakespeak gives three options for audience members to respond by: text, twitter and the internet. Responses for the message slide can be regulated using the ‘moderator’ or can be set to automatically accept all new responses sent in.
Using Shakespeak gives you the ability to fully customise the layout of the questions. By default, Shakespeak has its own design, or users can customise it to suit each presentation. This is a great feature, as it means presenters can use PowerPoint templates and incorporate Shakespeak slides into their existing design.
What’s right with it?
Shakespeak is a really good solution, and the concept is a really good idea. At m62, we’ve been crying out for interactivity for years, and Shakespeak really works towards delivering this.
One of the best features I found when using Shakespeak was the ability to moderate responses to the message slides. Using a separate monitor, or even a totally different computer, Shakespeak allows you to monitor, alter, or delete responses before publishing using the moderator tool.
It’s nice to see that Shakespeak is able to emulate the original designed slides, even if it doesn’t happen automatically. Shakespeak slides keep the background of the slide deck, but don’t automatically pick up template programmed design elements. They can be edited manually however, and using the ‘pick up design features’ tool will make this far easier for the user. The fact that Shakespeak slide elements are inserted as PowerPoint objects is a really helpful feature on Shakespeak’s part that enables users to edit different parts of the slides.
What’s wrong with it?
The biggest potential difficulty highlighted with Shakespeak is that presenters must be connected to the internet in order to use it. However, the nature of this type of presentation means that the use of Shakespeak is likely to be something that can be planned and tested in advance, and so this shouldn’t often be an issue.
There are privacy concerns around anonymity – responses submitted via Twitter are public and attributed to a Twitter user account, whereas responses sent via text or online remain anonymous. Depending on usage, either option could prove problematic for the presenter, and this is something that should be considered. However, I queried this with one of the Shakespeak developers and was informed that additional features around this will be released in the new year.
Shakespeak is free for up to 20 audience members to participate using one method of communication (website, text, Twitter) each. If they use more than one method, e.g voting via both Twitter and text, Shakespeak will register it as two participants, but participants can submit an unlimited number of answers via their chosen method.
Beyond 20 participants Shakespeak operates on a credit system, whereby one credit is equal to one participant per session.
Pricing starts at €3.00 for 30 credits and €900 for 20,000 credits. Shakespeak itself is only registered for use in school and university settings with a non-commercial motive, but sister company SendSteps offers a business alternative, although at a higher rate. Just like Shakespeak, Sendsteps is free for up to 20 people, but after that credits start at €295 for 50 participants.
Should I buy it?
I really did enjoy using Shakespeak, and I was very impressed by their easy-to-use interface and the capabilities of the platform. It’s really useful that it’s customisable too, so the Shakespeak slides can still fit in with your presentation design.
Overall Shakespeak is a great piece of software, and I was very impressed by the interactivity it offers audiences.
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