Given today’s mobile and presentation broadcast technology, meeting planners and presenters in all capacities of business should consider shutting down the projector for good. Here’s why. 

Since the dawn of mobile computing, roughly speaking the mid 80’s, the presence of computers in the conference room is fundamentally viewed by business leaders as a distraction. For the better part of the last 15 years, attendees have shown up with laptops eagerly seeking the best location to reach a nearby power source, or to position the screen so that the seeming appearance of meeting-related work could performed while working on tasks that were perceived as more important.

A conference room with laptops encircling the table, subliminally represents a digital wall separating the participants from each other and worse, from the presenter. Perhaps unintentionally, laptop screens mimic a defensive posture not unlike folding your arms; certainly not an ideal environment creating understanding and compelling people to take action.

In 2005 the devices began to downsize as feature phones evolved, and email emerged in more functional mobile user interfaces. When iPhone appeared in 2007 and unexpectedly penetrated deep into the enterprise, especially among managers and executives, the presence of laptops on the conference table began to wane; meeting-goers now had a wholly new form of distractive eye-candy. One that could go anywhere, magically traverse the corporate network, run for ten hours without a power source, and all while enabling attendees to discretely carry on “business” affairs.

The emergence of the smart phone and its computing capabilities on par or exceeding laptops, made it clear that the mobile device was not going to be checked at the door like firearms at a poker game. High resolution cameras, integrated voice recording, and even immature note-taking apps signaled a new era in [potential] meeting productivity.

Capturing the content of a meeting was now possible without ever touching a writing instrument. Digital snapshots of whiteboards, texting outward to a team – these were the early behaviors of what has now become a billion dollar industry segment – mobile apps that transform devices of all sizes into bona-fide tools that accelerate meeting productivity – for planning, facilitating, and attending business gatherings of all types.

Until recently, the only “legitimate” computing tools in meeting spaces have been those that are tasked with displaying PowerPoint slides, typically using a projector with a screen. And despite the tsunami of opportunities that mobile computing has unleashed in the meeting and presentation segment, the presence of other computing devices are still seen in many organizations as detractors from the core focus of a meeting and the expectations of the presenter.

The presenter wants you looking up, not down.

Indeed, corporate meeting policies and unwritten customs range from a polite nudge (i.e., silence the smart phone), to an all-out ban on anything that has a screen. In some companies you have a better chance of playing Angry Birds on an iPad during takeoff than tapping out a few notes during a market strategy session with the CEO.

These policies were not unreasonable when screens came with a large comfortable keyboard. Given the opportunity, people cannot resist watching their screens and multi-tasking during a less-than-intriguing slideshow with an endless supply of bullets.

But times have changed. We work in an ever-accelerating business climate. Our employers expect us to be always-on. Our colleagues and staff need attention and guidance with Ferrari-like precision and speed. Our families expect us to be ready to communicate whenever we’re awake. And not by coincidence, our mobile devices are ready and able to perform precisely the magic act we require in this climate.

Given today’s mobile and presentation broadcast technology, meeting planners and presenters in all capacities of business should consider shutting down the projector for good.

If you want the full attention of your audience, consider placing the presentation content into their hands. Remove the opportunity to multi-task. Eliminate the distraction; transform the participant’s device into a visual communication channel.

John Windsor, founder and CEO of Creating Thunder, makers of Peak Meetings, an iPad app designed to help plan and facilitate faster, more productive meetings, notes that,

“… the momentum [in business meeting culture] is definitely toward putting the meeting content in people’s hands, and that is a very good thing. It can make the data more personal and, hopefully, better invest the results across everyone in the group.”

When participants are provided direct access to meeting content, they not only feel more empowered and trusted, they are more empowered. They can organize their thoughts better and they can shape dialogue with greater confidence.

There’s a natural tendency to look at things close to you, especially things you may be holding. Allow your guests to immerse themselves in your message by enabling them to cradle your presentation content.

Instead of fighting for attention, convey your message at a personal level; directly into the hands of your meeting guests. Disarming this conflict is relatively straight-forward.

In stark contrast to generally accepted presentation practices, companies should encourage the use of mobile devices in meetings, not fear them.

Two Apps That Facilitate Meetings and Captivate Audiences

There are two apps that provide breakthrough performance for companies that want to embrace the new success factors of meetings and presentations in this decade. One focuses like a laser on the planning, management, and facilitation process; the other is keenly designed to leverage existing presentation assets while providing a multi-faceted approach for conveying presentation content.

Peak Meetings

There are so many meeting planner apps available for iPad, but only one stands out as a vehicle for creating seamless connectedness between your company’s strategic plans and execution.

Peak Meetings, by Creating Thunder, has hit on an idea that blends the importance of meeting content with the meeting management process.

It’s obvious that the designer of Peak Meetings has really stepped outside the traditional scope of the definition of “meeting”. They’ve taken great liberty to innovate on the essential responsibilities of meeting planning and created a much broader concept that redefines what it means to create successful meeting outcomes.

In Peak Meetings, the envelope has been opened so widely that the mere process of setting up a meeting invites you to justify it in the context of tactical and strategic objectives. This app doesn’t make it easy for you to take the latitude of calling a meeting without expressing merit, conditions, and outcomes that everyone must be aware of.

If your company can agree that this app is the framework for planning and managing meetings, a natural success pattern starts to emerge and a knowledge base reflecting intimate planning and execution details, begins to unfold. One must wonder if the app designer considered the inherent relationship between meeting content and the bigger scope of enterprise knowledge management, deep collaboration, and sustainable collaborative processes.

John Windsor, the founder and Peak Meetings and the app designer is extremely vocal about the strategic advantage meetings may provide if they are more structured.

“There should be structure and guidance about how to get through meetings more effectively.”

No one will argue that businesses hold meetings far too often that last far too long. And yet, few of them can actually be mapped to key performance metrics, let alone strategic plans.

It seems as though businesses, large and small, suffer from a chronic disconnect between the many elements of a vision, and the implementation steps necessary to achieve those visions and which are generally discussed in meetings. Mr. Windsor believes the glue that binds vision with implementation steps lay in the meeting planning and management arena.

Institutionalizing a process that creates a tightly bonded relationship between meetings and plans is likely to pay big dividends.

SlideShark

No other app and service comes better prepared to transform the culture of business meetings and presentations than SlideShark. And with the newly announced SlideShark Broadcasting, the combination of seamless integration with PowerPoint assets, a flawless mobile implementation, and direct-to-attendee content conveyance has pushed the science of presentations to new heights.

While SlideShark for iPad is ideal for untethered presentations in a conference room or one-on-one for sales meetings, iPhone is at the nexus for the next frontier of enterprise presentations. SlideShark for iPhone elevates the rich abundance of PowerPoint presentation assets to provide ultra-lightweight presentation options that are available in an instant, and capable of performing well under any lighting and environmental conditions.

By daisy-chaining three simple technologies – iOS computing devices, Airplay-enabled display devices, and SlideShark – businesses are able to transform presentations and meetings, and all while addressing the lofty expectations of participants. And the icing on the cake – SlideShark for iPad is by far, the most effective presentation dashboard for presenters. It’s rare that user interfaces are modeled to meet both presenter and attendee requirements with such precision and grace.

The launch of SlideShark Broadcasting opens the floodgates for new and innovative use of iPad and iPhone as presentation solutions. With Broadcasting, meeting facilitators and presenters can invite others to view their presentation as it’s being delivered live. Participants, whether across the table or across the globe, can see the presentation on any Internet-connected computer, tablet or smartphone – viewing slides as they’re advanced, animations as they unfold, as well as drawings and annotations as made by the presenter.

Imagine “mobilized classrooms” for training. How many companies hold training sessions indoors or in digitally-outfitted classrooms because it’s [currently] impractical to hold them in more suitable and relevant location contexts? Imagine presenting from an iPad to a group of manufacturing quality control engineers as they move around the manufacturing floor. This is not a new idea but it is one that is made newly possible; an innovative alchemy of training plus mobile plus broadcast location context.

If presentations can be unhinged from projectors and meeting rooms, the very definition of a meeting is transformed into anytime, anyplace learning and collaboration.

It’s already difficult for presenters to compete with distractions; mobile computing devices are the most egregious. Brainshark CMO Andy Zimmerman sums it up in this way.

“As a presenter, it can be frustrating when your audience comes to a meeting equipped with their own mobile devices, and you find yourself competing for the audience’s attention.”

The idea of empowering the audience while mitigating the distraction factors; indeed leveraging the very devices that have here-to-fore created the greatest potential for presentation continuity, is a compelling value proposition that SlideShark Broadcasting provides. Mr. Zimmerman suggests that the value proposition may actually change the dynamics of a meeting.

“Our latest technology advancement presents an opportunity to capitalize on the ubiquity of mobile devices and change your perspective. With SlideShark’s new broadcasting capability, you won’t mind meeting participants looking down at their devices to view your presentation up close and in real-time on their device at hand, while you continue to control the slides. This can completely change the dynamics of the meeting and, most importantly, your impact!”

SlideShark has reached a pinnacle in the meeting and presentation segment by carefully positioning its solution at the intersection of mobile computing and the personal conveyance of knowledge. Indeed, Broadcasting makes it possible to turn off the projector, focus on individuals, and expand meeting collaboration. In concert with Peak Meetings or simply in the spirit of creating a managed progression toward presentation objectives while conveying content to form-factors that participants use, presenters maintain control over the content, the message, and the overall cadence of the meeting.

And at the meeting’s conclusion, SlideShark presenters also receive detailed reports about audience viewing activity and attendance. It’s no surprise that analytics is emerging as a key attribute in the presentation segment. By embracing individual’s needs in the context of a business gathering, the opportunities to gather helpful data becomes far more possible.

So what are you waiting for? Pull the plug on the projector and get on with presenting in the 21st century.