Audience response keypads aren't a new idea: Attendees are each given a small keypad with which they answer questions. They can pick yes or no, or punch in a number that correlates to choices of answers. The audience's choices are tabulated by an on-site computer, then graphically displayed on a screen as bar graphs or pie charts.

The latest generation of keypads is wireless, an improvement that has increased the cost a bit but has made them much more flexible and practical. Previously, every pad was attached to thick cable, which added set-up time and precluded quick room changes.

Stage America, Inc. is among the companies that rent or sell systems. For a one-day meeting for 150, here's how Stage America estimates rental costs: $5,650 for keypads, radio frequency receiver, and Stage America software that can produce the graphics and handle unlimited demographic cross-tabs; plus $900 for a technical support person for two days; plus the cost of shipping. For more information, contact Stage America at (407) 872-3333.