We’re building a new UNICEF.org.
As we swap out old for new, pages will be in transition. Thanks for your patience – please keep coming back to see the improvements.

Learning and Knowledge Exchange

Online Tools for Face-to-Face Meetings

Empowering participation using technology

Online tools for use during face-to-face meetings have added a new dimension to the meeting experience. They are usually easy to use, offer quick results, and provide an element of fun. As most meeting participants already have mobile devices (and may use them during meetings/conferences), why not acknowledge their utility and apply them for the purposes of the meeting? Use these tools to find out how participants feel at various intervals during a meeting, gauge their interest levels, collect feedback and ideas, evaluate their understanding, and ensure your message is getting across.

Online tools enable meeting organizers both to empower participants and to give them some measure of accountability for the success of a conference or meeting. Using their mobile phones, laptop computers or tablets, participants can vote on questions, give inputs quickly at a moment’s notice at any point during a meeting, or take part in learning games. These tools can significantly increase participant engagement, because everyone can respond at once, no one needs to be individually called upon, and in some cases participation can be anonymous if required. Results can be shown to the participants in real time. Large meetings (workshops and conferences) especially benefit from the power of these tools.

In addition to enabling participant feedback, most meeting tools incorporate analytics that offer useful insights to organizers.

This article describes six of the main functions (purposes) for which online meeting tools are used:

  1. Instant voting/polling.
  2. Gathering inputs or questions from participants during a meeting.
  3. Using a social media wall to “turn up the volume” on your event and build engagement among participants or external observers. 
  4. Event planner and response tool for conference participants (e.g., adding agenda items of the meeting/conference to their schedules and facilitating instant messaging among participants).
  5. Learning games.
  6. Analytics for assessing meeting impact.

The outline of each function is accompanied by a list of suggested tools. See Appendix 1 for an overview of all the tools mentioned in this article.


  • Meeting, workshop or conference event (more than 30 participants, each with mobile device/ tablet/ laptop)
  • Organizer or Speaker/ Presenter (with knowledge of virtual/online tool)
  • Online tool, selected according to needs
  • Reliable Wi-Fi connection with enough capacity for all participants (very important)

 Download the full module on Online Tools for Face-to-Face Meetings (PDF), including when and why to use, how to apply, tips for success, variations, and references.




New enhanced search