Everyone’s the Speaker: Two New Ways to Share the Floor at Your Event

Everyone’s the Speaker: Two New Ways to Share the Floor at Your Event

Is the traditional I-talk-you-listen lecture dying? Probably not – we’ve been silently listening to speeches for a few thousand years or so – but these days, technology is filling up our toolkit with interesting ways to pass the mic. Maybe this is the result of shortening attention spans and an inability to shut out mouths for an entire hour, maybe its our natural and frenetic desire to innovate, maybe this is just the way we start cresting out of the me-me-me cultural narcissism that social networks facilitate. Who knows? But more fluid audience participation methods during conferences and talks are definitely becoming a trend. Here’s a look at two of the new tools available for getting listeners involved.


Created by a team of young Finns, Catchbox is “the world’s first throwable microphone”, a highly engineered mic built into a padded cube that doesn’t mind being tossed around the lecture hall. Psychologically, I think this plays well across a couple of dynamics: for one, as the video notes, it’s a good icebreaker, but I also like it for its techy take on the Talking Stick – whoever’s got the Catchbox has the floor. Feels egalitarian somehow. Neat bit: the creators of Catchbox built in some software that edits out the sounds that would typically be generated by the mic as it sails through the air and lands hard in someone’s grip.

Price-wise, the thing ain’t particularly cheap, with boxes starting at 495 Euros (or $591 USD), but good A/V gear is worth the shell out.


Crowd Mics turns audience smartphones into wireless microphones, no internet connection required. A detailed inside look via SquadUp blog (and check out their post for the back story behind the creation of Crowd Mics):

“Everyone downloads the free Crowd Mics app and connects to the same wireless router, which can be via a venue’s Wi-Fi or a stand-alone wireless router device. Crowd Mics doesn’t require an Internet connection because it only uses the router to push data back and forth. The presenter on stage plugs an iOS or Android device into the room’s sound system and creates a name and access code for the event in the Crowd Mics app. Audience members download the app and enter the code to join the event. When they want to ask a question or make a comment, they tap a ‘Request to Talk’ button on their devices, and the presenter will see a list of people who want to talk in the order they requested. The presenter can enable an individual microphone, mute a microphone, or put the system in ‘open mic’ mode so anyone can comment. Audience members can also submit text comments to the presenter through the Crowd Mics app. The presenter can also use the basic polling functions.”

Crowd Mics is free for events with under twenty participants – over that, it’s $50 for 50 participants or under, up to $198 for 200 participants or under. If you need Crowd Mics to support more than 200 participants, you’ll need to contact them for custom pricing.

David Sonntag
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