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Whiteboards Take the Drudgery Out of Meetings

14 Apr, 2008 By: Craig Heiman imageSource

Whiteboards Take the Drudgery Out of Meetings

Meetings . . . they can be the bane of corporate life. Chances are, you as
well as your customers, had to spend too much time in unproductive meetings last
week, or you know someone who did. A meeting invitation can make busy
professionals cringe because they know they’ll be expected to give up a
significant block of their valuable time, with little promise that the meeting
will actually accomplish anything. For dealers, staff executives, sales reps or
meeting leaders, the challenges are different: how to keep the full and
undivided attention of their clients while showing new product or services,
along with their multi-tasking team members who are juggling participation in
the discussion (Watch all the note-taking and distractions such as PDA messages
and emails). The expression “herding cats” comes to mind as that is literally
impossible to oversee effectively.

For many companies, the innovative electronic whiteboards are helping to
transform meetings from inefficient time-wasters into productive tools for
advancing business.  In a nutshell, electronic whiteboards — also known as
copyboards — take the concept of a traditional whiteboard or flipchart several
steps further. Meeting participants can brainstorm and write key concepts and
ideas on the board for discussion. Then, with the push of a button, the
copyboard scrolls the flexible writing surface scanning the hand-written notes
to be printed or downloaded to a computer for distribution as either paper
copies or as digital files – users can even send them as email attachments.  

> Taming the Multi-Taskers

Particularly in smaller, more informal team settings, copyboards have great
potential to improve the meeting experience for participants as well as team
leaders. Since participants are freed from note-taking and are able to give
their full attention to the topic at hand, the quality of the discussion is
improved and the meeting’s objectives can be accomplished quicker and with
greater focus. Participants are less tempted to allow distractions to invade
their concentration if they’re fully engaged in the meeting discussion, and if
they feel they’re accomplishing something.

How many times have you walked into a conference room only to discover that
the white board is covered with notes from a previous meeting, with a stern “Do
Not Erase” attached? Suppose you were the author of those notes and they were
erased by mistake? You just spent hours in a meeting, only to have your valuable
insights, ideas, and action plans lost in a cloud of dry-erase dust. By
capturing and saving valuable information, copyboards remove the risk of losing
valuable information — and they ensure that the whiteboard is free and clean for
the next conference room occupants. 

> Electronic Copyboard Options

So you’re ready to make an electronic copyboard purchase. How do you sort
through the available choices and pick the system that’s just right for your
organization? One option is the interactive whiteboard, which has the ability to
capture and print or download a projected computer image or file, such as a
spreadsheet or Web page.  Although interactive whiteboards include a number of
advanced features, they tend to be rather complex and don’t lend themselves to
spontaneous interaction and use from multiple participants. In addition, they
typically require detailed installation and precise calibration to ensure
alignment of the projected image with its annotations.

In the day-to-day world of team collaboration and business decision-making, a
standard copyboard is a better choice. Copyboards are much more appropriate for
the spontaneous, informal interactions that occur among smaller groups of team
members. In this setting, no one has to be concerned with calibrating the board
or ensuring that the proper software is loaded on everyone’s computer – just
flip a switch and start brainstorming.

Beyond ease-of-use, there are a few other considerations. Does the copyboard
provide multiple writing panels? Does it capture notes and drawings in full
color? If it comes on a portable stand, can it also be wall-mounted?

> The Best of Both Worlds: Next-Generation Copyboards

A new category of systems combines some of the functionality of an
interactive board, including the ability to capture, annotate, download, and
print projected images, with the ease-of-use and portability of a standard
copyboard. Although these new systems do require additional software, it’s easy
to install and learn, and calibration of the projected image is a quick and
simple process. These next-generation copyboards introduce a powerful new
element to small-group brainstorm sessions: the ability to actually view and
comment on a work in progress. Consider your design team working on
modifications to an advertisement, Web page, or other graphic project. Now, team
members can project the actual graphic on the board and make edits in real-time,
while the group is convened. Other examples include an engineering team
reviewing product designs, or a budgeting group discussing financial data in a
spreadsheet and making changes or recommendations.

> Meetings That Work

With today’s advances in electronic whiteboard technology, business meetings
from the weekly sales or regional ones, along with the all important client
presentations and, for some, actually selling the client an innovative
whiteboard product to engage with their end users, will result in being more
interactive, efficient, and productive. By freeing participants to focus on a
presentation or meeting’s true goals, content and objectives, copyboards
facilitate group brainstorming that drives innovation and profit-producing
achievements in businesses of all sizes. 

Courtesy of Craig Heiman, Director of Sales for PLUS Vision Corporation of
America. www.plus–america.com.

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