Storytelling About Poll Everywhere With Robert Graham

Ready to revolutionize how your organization communicates and engages? This episode promises to deliver the secrets, as we sit down with Robert Graham from Poll Everywhere. We explore the remarkable versatility of Poll Everywhere: from asking multiple choice questions to open-ended queries that capture real-time responses. We also dive into the power of integrating Poll Everywhere with Zoom, PowerPoint, and Slack to open up new channels for data exchange, keeping your audience connected in a meaningful way.

Wondering how to create an exceptional onboarding experience? Look no further. We discuss how Poll Everywhere can take your HR and TA to the next level, transforming your employee engagement strategies. From the buying process to getting started in no time, we navigate through the industries that have thrived with Poll Everywhere. We also examine the changing expectations of the audience and the need for data integration. Join us on this journey and discover the potential of Poll Everywhere.

Give the show a listen and please let me know what you think.

Thanks, William

GEM Recruiting AI

Show length: 21 minutes

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Robert Graham
CEO Poll Everywhere

I began my career in Software Engineering with some exciting experiences in research and various web industry applications. I found a love of side entrepreneurial pursuits and got the opportunity to apply what I had learned at Poll Everywhere. I am excited by the opportunity to grow a SaaS product that delivers value to customers and also to those exposed to the product. I'm passionate about being the best leader I can be for the remarkable people I have the opportunity to work with at Poll Everywhere. One of the great features of Poll Everywhere is the opportunities for people to grow.


Storytelling About Poll Everywhere With Robert Graham

William Tincup: [00:00:00] This is William Tincup and you’re listening to the Use Case podcast. Today we have Robert on from Poll Everywhere and we’ll be learning about the use case of the business case for Wise clients pick Poll everywhere. So why don’t we start with introductions. Robert, would you do us a favor and introduce yourself and poll everywhere?

Robert Graham: Absolutely. Thanks William. Excited to be here and talk through some of this with you. My background at Polar Everywhere is extends back about eight years. Polar everywhere is a, is an odd startup. And then it’s pretty old. It’s a teenager. It was one of the early YC companies. And we haven’t taken any funding really since.

So we’ve been profitable and bootstrapped since the very early days. And we make software that enables people to connect better with their audiences. And usually you see that in the form of integrating polls and activities, competitions and other ways you can connect into slideware or into a [00:01:00] presentation and a web browser.


William Tincup: a number of intersection points. So as it relates to understanding how the audience is, what they care about. Obviously we’ll talk about probably employees and candidates and how HR and Tali can use poll everywhere. So what does that usually present

Robert Graham: so a couple of the most common ways you’ll see it and people may be most familiar with it from time in school, especially in higher education. But you’ll see perhaps some sort of question and either a series of answers mul presented as multiple choice or potentially just an open-ended question where you reply using a phone typically, but other devices work.

And so you would pick, a, B, C, D or you would reply with, a few words that you think, answer the prompt best. And then the part that’s connecting is that everyone sees the answers as they appear. In real time. So there’s a graph of percentages responses on those multiple choice polls.

And there are different potential [00:02:00] visualizations for free text responses. But the most popular is probably a word cloud of, the most common words and phrases used. And

William Tincup: For hr, they’d use this to understand kind of employee engagement, I’m assuming.

Robert Graham: Yeah. To understand it to measure it.

It’s an extremely common use case in onboarding.

William Tincup: Oh, interesting. Okay. So how did our onboarding experience, how it meet your expectations, ex, et cetera.

Robert Graham: Yeah. And even at a, maybe a more granular level You can break the ice a lot of times where people will open up with a really low stakes question.

Something about where you’re from. Something that might connect the audience, in an unknown way. Even something as silly, right? Like your favorite flavor of ice cream. But then, you can get throughout the. Experience, you can set up questions where you understand where the audience is coming from as a presenter, and then also, more evaluative, formative and assessment style questions [00:03:00] throughout to understand where everyone’s starting and also if you delivered the information and the understanding that you were hoping to.

I love that.

William Tincup: And I love the, you used the word audience because a lot of the trend in HR and recruiting is to the audience has been, has changed. I talked to, oh this earlier this week, I did a podcast with a Tali, global head of Tali, and she said, listen, candidates, and then she quickly, said the audience, they’re changed their expectations.

They want the entire hiring process to be done soup to nuts in 21 days. And I’m like, some people have a hard time responding in 21 days. But their audience, they’re finding like beneath their feet, the audience is shifting. And so I think, poll everywhere. What’s really interesting and fascinating to me is this is a way for you to kinda always have your finger on the pulse of what’s going

Robert Graham: on with your people.

Absolutely. Yeah. We’ve seen similar things both with the [00:04:00] shift to, I, I think some realization that even as people return to office in some capacity, There’s a large number of people that aren’t returning to office five days a week. It doesn’t seem like in, in most industries where that’s not required, it doesn’t seem to be a thing that’s going to happen.

So that connection part I think is something that’s missing. And I think that’s part of what has shifted the audience itself and the conversation about how to meet that audience. I

William Tincup: like that. Who would, does it does it need to be, does. Does the data need to be integrated into any other kind of systems?

Once we’ve learned what we needed to learn, you use onboarding as a kind of on the front side of onboarding. There’s some things you can do to get your audience to interact. And then maybe afterwards you can find out how the experience was, et cetera. There’s several different kinda use cases there.

Does that data need to go anywhere else or have you been asked by your customers to take the data into other systems? [00:05:00]

Robert Graham: Absolutely. We like to think of ourselves as, something that should enable these interactions and improve that connection with the audience, but should also enable this kind of data exchange.

An example here is we’re using Zoom and you could obviously start a quick poll in Zoom, but one difference there is that we can be integrated into how you’re already presenting with something like PowerPoint and also into how you’re already. Evaluating how those sessions are going or evaluating, something like performance in an educational context with the learning management system with other, internal data management systems.

We integrate with quite a number of software like that and including other things like, Microsoft teams or or Slack as well. So being able to connect with people wherever they are in your organization, where they spend time and how they choose, like which mediums they choose to communicate with, I think is pretty important to connecting all the dots and how we work.

William Tincup: I was gonna ask you about [00:06:00] Slack because I can see, especially people that use our heavy users, companies that are heavy users of it, that they wouldn’t want to go somewhere else, but they’d want it to be there inside of wherever they’re working. But do you is it, do you have other things other than Slack and teams?

Is there any other kind of collaborative software that you’re getting, your customers are probably requesting you to be in?

Robert Graham: Probably we, I mean we are in a couple other places we partnered with Cisco WebEx is one example. Oh, cool. As part of their app store. Yeah I’d say that’s the biggest one that we haven’t mentioned.

We do connect with the Slideware, so not just PowerPoint, things like Keynote and Google Slides as well. But in terms of like demands or interest from customers, we’ve definitely had some interest from customers using Zoom, and we don’t currently have that as part of the suite.

The main reason has been that the way that Zoom apps have been integrated we just weren’t sure we could deliver the quality of experience we wanted to. I think that may have changed recently, so we are looking at it [00:07:00] again.

William Tincup: From your, because you’ve been in business for a little while and I love the fact that you’re lean and profitable.

There’s so many stories of companies that kind of came to market, raised a lot of money, and then, not here. Because, the market’s pretty tough right now. But I wanted to ask you a question around the market itself for you. Are you domestic? Are you multinational global?

Multilingual? Tell us a little bit about the market that you’re addressing. Yeah.

Robert Graham: We are global in terms of customers, though the majority of our customers are still in the us. I’d say we have. Majority US and then significant presence in Europe and parts of Australia and Asia.

And expanding some of that is definitely interesting to us. We have some minor support and delivering other languages in certain parts of the app, but not throughout. So that’s another place that I think is on the roadmap [00:08:00] for us in the future.

William Tincup: And so who do you sell to? Who’s the person that buys Poll Everywhere?

What’s that kind of a title or array of titles? Yeah,

Robert Graham: there is a definitely an array of titles we find ourselves frequently in an HR context. So we might sell to someone that’s leading an HR organization or to someone that’s leading the onboarding part of that organization. We also see quite a bit in just learning and development and in a corporate context. And the titles vary there a lot. Everything from something related to learning and development to perhaps someone in charge of. Digital tools or digital culture at an organization we see pretty frequently. And then we also have buyers at higher education institutions.

And those vary quite a bit depending on really like the scale of who we’re selling to in the organization, whether it’s university-wide or sometimes even just a professor for their particular semester. [00:09:00] So

William Tincup: have you, have y’all ever been to asu, G S V the conference? We have

Robert Graham: not we, we definitely like gap in our coverage the last couple of years.

William Tincup: It’s, the thing is you run a profitable company you don’t really need to think about these things, but because you can play with higher ed and with talent that’s a conference that’s just based on that. So it’s the intersection point of K through 12 higher education and then corporate.

And so y y’all would thrive because the entire audience be fishing in a barrel, so to speak. But that happens in April. I would, look forward for next year cuz it’s your people.

Robert Graham: Absolutely. Yeah. I actually heard about it a little bit. I, somebody asked me if I was gonna be there this year.

And when I looked into it, I had the same intuition that you presented, but we actually got together as a team around then on the revenue side of the org. And so we were unable to shift plans.

William Tincup: Yeah. Next one.[00:10:00] I think just because it’s a, concentration of folks that would care about this, on all levels.

I think it’d just be fun for you. The other thing that I’m seeing a lot, I don’t know if you’re seeing it as much, but. The development of ex employee experience. So we’ve talked about candidate experience for 20 plus years, but we haven’t really talked about employee experience that much. But last year was kind of a high watermark of people putting technology, putting budgets together around the employee experience.

So I can see titles, in the future, that of people that have ex types of titles.

Robert Graham: Yeah, that, that makes a lot of sense to me. I agree that we will expect to see that part of the market develop. I think in many ways that’s part of where I think the market for our product segment is going to grow in the next few years.


William Tincup: And again, it’s that finger on the pulse, understanding what’s working, what’s not working, giving people the freedom to, [00:11:00] to to answer and getting, being heard like it is just all the stuff lines up really well with what you’ve built. Are there any industries that y’all have a dominance with?

Robert Graham: Dominance is strong. Yeah.

William Tincup: Yeah. I probably should I’ll dial that back a little bit. Is there is there any industries that y’all, you know, just, you wake up seven years later and you’re like, wow, you have 2200 customers in healthcare. Whatever. Is there anything that, where you see some density.

Robert Graham: Yeah, absolutely. We see a number of concentrations. We really began as a very horizontal product, more tailored toward individuals. And so that horizontal view, I think is still part of the company today. So even as a more enterprise software company We still have a broader appeal than I think you’d typically see develop.

But we do have big concentrations in higher education, as I’ve mentioned, but also on the corporate side, industries like [00:12:00] finance like healthcare as well as You see pretty significant things for us in software and technology. I think that’s partly just a cultural fit. It’s easy to roll out, te technology solutions and cultures that are technology savvy and interested.


William Tincup: two things before we get to buy side stuff. What are we displacing or replacing? Is it post-it notes? Is it surveys? What are what are we displacing with poll Everywhere.

Robert Graham: So I think this is maybe the most exciting time to answer that question for us because for years when I talk with the founders about this, the answer was we do have some direct competitors, but really what we’re replacing is someone sitting in a room and asking the people in the room, raise your hand if, and then some question.

Yeah. And the reason that’s so exciting is, In a hybrid context, right? If some people are not in the room and they’re on [00:13:00] Zoom and there’s a couple people with you, you really can’t do that

William Tincup: anymore, right? You can. It’s just you do it at your own peril, right?

Robert Graham: Yeah. And it’s an exclusive thing to do in that context.


William Tincup: right. That’s right. You can get good data or. You get horrible data, like why leave it to chance? How fast do we stand up poll everywhere? When they ask the question by a prospect, they say, I love everything. Check How fast can we get started? That type stuff.

How, what does that look like for folks?

Robert Graham: I think in a very per organization and what? What getting stood up means, I think for somebody to use it in a meeting and see if it suits them, if they like it, it really could be 10 minutes before the meeting, they get something simple, set up low stakes and try it out in their slide deck.

I, we certainly have seen people do that. And maybe if you’re less comfortable with technology, maybe you want 30 minutes or an hour to get it prepared. In a larger organization where things like you need agreements about data [00:14:00] privacy, right? Or you need things like, single sign on.

Of course that process is a bit longer, but we typically try to get people on board as quick as we can and those technical dominoes go pretty quickly. I would say rollouts are usually a couple weeks to maybe four to six weeks on the longer end, depending on. Mostly the timelines that our customers need for checking all

William Tincup: the boxes.

And some of that’s, like you said, data privacy, security, you bring in it, they want to make sure everything’s fits a certain guideline, et cetera. Let’s do some buy-side questions for a second. When you get to, on the occasion that you get to show people polar, what’s your favorite part of the demo?

Robert Graham: I think that’s remained pretty constant for us. It’s still, the most exciting thing is to see someone recognize how they could use the technology And there are a lot of contexts where we get used and there are a lot of contexts where we get used, where quite frankly, we’re going to get used by someone that’s doing it for [00:15:00] free, whether that’s in a community organization or it could be at their church, or even as a professor at a university sometimes, we, for a long time, were worried about.

Oh, we see all these email addresses that aren’t from these higher education institutions that are using us on education accounts, and we’re like, is this fraud? It turns out a lot of times it was people using their work emails to do volunteer work, like teaching for free. So we never did stop that and we’re excited to see it.

I. Part of what we want as a group out of building this product is for, people to connect better with those audiences. It’s nice to be a part of something you can feel like at the end of the day had a positive impact on people.

William Tincup: I love that. Two questions left. One is questions that buyers should ask.

Poll everywhere. Again, this might be something new to them in terms of purchasing. It might be something that they’re acquainted with, et cetera, but if you could script the questions that prospects should ask you, [00:16:00] what would some of those questions be? Good question. It only took me 30 minutes, Robert.

Robert Graham: I’ve heard that saying, that’s a good question. Obviously a bid for time is apparently,

William Tincup: oh no, that’s exactly what I do. That’s my pause. That’s a fantastic question right there. The other part of my brain is trying to work out an answer. Just gimme a second.

Robert Graham: It’s apparently also uniquely somewhat American.

I’ve told that recently.

William Tincup: That is a great.

Robert Graham: So what should people ask? I think it does depend a bit because we have such a horizontal customer base, where they’re coming from. They might need to ask a bit different questions if they do have things like data privacy concerns. But I think from our point of view, the product really sells itself if you can, get traction in using [00:17:00] it.

So I think. What are the ways that we’ve seen maybe people with a similar organization succeed in rolling out the product and just making sure that maybe your presenters and your audiences are getting better connected. And then, yeah how frequently should we expect you to be demonstrating that value?

Is this a product that you want to use with your c e o for a monthly town hall, or is this something where you want. A couple of hundred presenters to ask a room full of people things many times a day. And I think then the rollout strategies and like some of the things you’d need to do and how we could support you would be a bit different.

William Tincup: I love that you mentioned adoption because again, it’s, it comes down to when you buy software, especially enterprise, hr work, tech, software, future work, whatever you wanna call it it comes down to usage. At the end of the day, people, can make great purchases or not, but if people use the software, Then they get, then they’ll get some form of [00:18:00] our roi.

But if they don’t, a lot of these business cases are built with the kinda the assumption of a hundred percent adoption, which never happens. And so I like the fact that them asking questions and leaning on you and your ex expert expertise of saying, Hey, you’ve seen this, rolled out to however X number of clients that you have.

How does it work? Give us some guidance, like where are we? So we don’t make some of the, rookie mistakes. I love that because I think practitioners and partners, vendors should work well together in, in that regard. Listen we don’t do that many implementations.

Y’all do, or we don’t do that many rollouts y’all do, help us And more consultative again, towards the, everybody’s best interest is. Adoption consumption and usage. So I love that. Success stories that you love and you don’t have to use brands or names or any of that type stuff, but just kinda some of your go-to success stories around Poll Everywhere.[00:19:00]


Robert Graham: There’s, there’s a broad range of things we could talk about. I think I’ll leave off on education cause I think that one’s the easiest to understand without thinking about it. But we have seen, I honestly, in my time, I think the most exciting, I did a customer interview a long time ago with someone that was getting together groups of people that were in.

Populations of people that had maybe had difficult experiences and they were sharing those experiences. And one of the things Poll Everywhere enabled was, you don’t ask that, raise your hand if question because it’s not the sort of thing that you would ask that question and expect people to volunteer, in any kind of public sense.

But Poll Everywhere enabled that question to be asked and answered anonymously, but also that people could see on the screen. That they were in, company that understood their experiences that had some of the same experiences and that it enabled [00:20:00] some connection that, the presenters really didn’t believe could occur otherwise.

And hearing that story directly, has always stuck out to me. Another similar story would be someone internally that now is, running sales for us. Just had a moment in the back of the room on one of their, first days at the company that they volunteered something in a internal q and a and one of the founders, immediately picked it up.

And it got upvoted by people in the room and it got addressed and it stuck with them their whole time here as it’s part of how they’ve sold the product. Because, finding and elevating a voice in the back of the room of someone that’s brand new and gets an idea heard by, the founder of the company is just a really powerful experience.

William Tincup: Drops, mic walks off stage. Robert, that was wonderful. Thank you so much. I love what y’all are doing. I love the way you’re running the company as well. And again, giving voice to everyone, which I [00:21:00] think is, the, just a, it’s just the right thing to do. B leveling the playing field where that certain voices don’t have more power than others.

So I love it. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast.

Robert Graham: Thank you William. Thank you for all the great questions and yeah, it was a pleasure.

William Tincup: And thank everyone for listening. Until next time.

The Use Case Podcast

William Tincup

William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.


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