Clickers, One of Oprah’s Favorite Things

Someone mentioned to me a few weeks ago that she saw Oprah Winfrey use clickers on her talk show. I tweeted about this, wondering if anyone else had seen this. Thanks to a colleague at the New York Institute of Technology, I learned that several talk shows that Oprah produces have been using clickers for a while now! Check out this short video from Padgett Communications, the audience response system vendor used by Oprah and colleagues:

In the video, Dr. Phil asks his audience this question:

How much is okay to drink at the office holiday party?

  1. You shouldn’t drink at all.
  2. One or two drinks is appropriate.
  3. I can hold my liquor so I can have at least three drinks.

The second choice was the audience winner with 63% of the vote. The video includes only a short clip of this interaction, and I can’t say much about it without some context, but it would appear Dr. Phil uses his clicker questions to engage his audience and his viewers.  I can imagine viewers at home comparing their perspectives on questions like these to those held by the student audience.

Oprah and the Doctors (including Vanderbilt’s own bachelor, Travis Stork) use their clicker questions for these reasons as well as one more: to create times for telling.  Here’s Oprah’s question:

What is the most-consumed meat around the world?

  1. Beef
  2. Pork
  3. Goat
  4. Chicken

Chicken was the audience favorite with 54% of the votes. Goat, however, was the correct answer, despite only garnering 5% of the audience vote. This is a perfect “time for telling” question! You can hear the gasps of astonishment from the audience when Oprah reveals the correct answers. I can’t tell from the video where Oprah goes with this after the “reveal” (perhaps some agile talk-show-hosting?), but I would guess that her audience was ready to listen to whatever she had to say about goat consumption!

Of course, Oprah’s audience tends to hang on her every word anyway, so I don’t know how much value an audience response question adds for her! However, it’s nice to see audience response systems appearing in such a mainstream venue as the weekday talk show. It’s yet another sign that audiences are increasingly less satisfied with “just” listening to someone talk at them. Audiences appreciate and expect interaction and engagement.

Image: “Oprah 1,” Bruno Boutot, Flickr (CC)

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