In the mid 1990’s, I taught university classes – everything from introductory physics to string theory and computer forensics. There are some parallels I see between classroom instruction and business meetings. Many classes, and meetings, include some sort of digital presentation – content projected on the wall or a displayed on a TV. Even if the projector can auto-focus and you are using a projector screen instead of the textured, beige wall … it can be a struggle for everyone to see the presentation.
To combat this problem, we wrote a program, ClassCast, that mirrored the instructor’s computer to all of the student computers – no more squinting to see what was being projected! Students could grab screen-prints of important information or download the presentation from the class’s web page. I frequently added links, textbook references, and additional information into the presentation comments too.
Teams provides the functionality we built into ClassCast and adds additional features that benefit in-person meetings. Try it – start a meeting once everyone assembles in the conference room. Make sure people’s speakers and microphones are muted! Share your screen in the Teams meeting. Attendees can clearly see what is being projected (you may not even need that projector), notes can be added in OneNote or the meeting chat (a great place to stash questions too). Links and resources can be shared through the meeting chat. If you share a PowerPoint presentation, it is automatically shared out to meeting participants. Even if your presentation isn’t PowerPoint, you can record your entire presentation – complete with a transcription and share the recording in your Teams space.
ClassCast inadvertently helped with the second problem I experienced as an instructor – attention. In the University setting, inattention often meant students suffering through a core requirement who sat playing solitaire or surfing the Internet; but it also meant the student in the back row, students who could barely see the presentation … well, their attention wandered. When everyone could see the presentation, they were less distracted. Having ClassCast running made it a deliberate act to open a card game or web browser – instead of staring at a desktop with those inviting (fun) icons, students had to close ClassCast. Yes, there were still a few students playing and ignoring my lesson – but it became a rare exception rather than the norm.
I don’t see deliberate inattention when hosting business meetings, but attention still wanders. An IM pops in, and that flashing box constantly draws your attention. The new message indicator appears in your system tray and it could be important. My director at Alltel had a rule prohibiting computers in meetings, but a text comes across your phone … and his rule became pointless with the advent of smart phones. Having meeting content on your desktop immerses you in the meeting. If you are speaking to a presentation, that presentation content is right there. If the group is meeting to collaborate on a document, instead of having one person performing edits as they are suggested, the document can be edited collaboratively.