Ready to Deliver the Right Tech for Your Off-Site Meeting?

The latest high-tech services offer on-demand access and let attendees collaborate with plug-and-play ease.

You show up for the final negotiation meeting about your company’s acquisition of a new business unit. Every document you need is loaded on your thumb drive.

But wait: Is the system in the off-site meeting room compatible with the computers back at the office that your staff used to create the files? Can you use your iPad to run through a PowerPoint presentation on the room-size digital display? Can you show a video using the in-room projection system? Can your board of directors beam in and participate remotely using videoconferencing?

Those questions characterize the types of issues that meeting planners must address when helping finalize events where the participants are gathering to converse and collaborate intensely with the aim of reaching major decisions.

Although most event participants and attendees like the dazzle that unique lighting and technology can add to a meeting, more traditional technology services are certainly as important, if not more critical, depending on the meeting type, says Matthew Johnsen, director of product management for PSAV, a hotel, resort and conference center technology services provider.

For small meetings of a few to a few dozen participants, critical presentation and collaboration tools are invaluable. What’s more, attendees and meeting leaders alike expect instant access and ease of use to such tools, Johnsen says.

“Today’s consumers are living in a world of plug-and-play,” he points out. “They are used to everything running seamlessly, and they bring that expectation into the meeting space.”

Good Tech Support Is Everything

The environment for these types of meetings often must simulate a high-end work setting that provides access for both live and remote participants.

Because these setups are devised to support the needs of each particular meeting and its purpose, there’s often more technical engineering and support involved on the back end than event hosts, participants and attendees often realize, Johnsen says. But, with appropriate upfront planning, organizations can expect to offer high-quality technology, no matter the format or media, he says.

The necessary elements can include everything from wireless networks and on-demand print stations to interactive whiteboards and presentation systems.

Even in an intensely business-focused meeting, technology can add drama and improve engagement:

  • Show presentations on wide screens. Johnsen says the trend to go wide is irreversible; he encourages planners to start creating content for the now common 16-by-9-foot format. “Think of Steve Jobs. He didn’t have two screens flanking the stage, just one wide screen behind him,” he says.
  • Consider interactive tools. Clicker-based devices can be used for instant polling and tabulation. And interactive whiteboards can let several users make changes simultaneously to documents displayed on large displays.
  • Adopt HD, but get ready for 4K. At minimum, Johnsen says, organizations need to use high definition to ensure a quality viewing experience. But at twice the resolution of HD, high-end 4K displays are gaining steam, he adds.

Research backs up the use of large-scale imagery. It affects retention of information, according to research by the Media Effects Research Laboratory at Pennsylvania State University. A study at the lab found that images shown on large screens are more attention-getting, and the content more easily remembered.