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By Duane Craig
November 13, 2017
Construction relies on a lot of meetings. Why not use technology to improve them? Meeting and events industry experts predict collaborative communications as the hottest meeting items for the next five years. So, the writing on the proverbial whiteboard is that long, boring meetings with yawning participants are set for extinction. Here are tech tools to help make meetings more engaging and productive.
These meeting tools can really help with explanations. Construction is a highly visual activity so when you need to explain why a one-inch water pipe is going to terminate into the side of a heating duct, a picture is worth a thousand words. And that's where interactive whiteboards like TeamBoard's T4 really excel. As the discussion goes around the table, pop up the schedule and annotate everybody's ideas for overcoming a bottleneck. Show before and after pictures of a contested punch list item, or let everyone see the net result of a change order budget under two different scenarios. Show slides, video, BIM models. Share documents.
The cool thing is not everyone needs to be present in the room. People can interact and share screens from wherever they are as long as they are within range of an internet connection.
If you're going to harness the collaborative powers of an interactive whiteboard for your meetings, carefully consider all the use scenarios. As with most everything, the lower the price point, the fewer the features. That's fine if you need only a few features. However, just to avoid regrets, take the time to really study the products in this space. The more use scenarios you discover, the better the return on your investment.
Check out the specifications before making up your mind. Take multi-touch and multi-user, for example. Multi-touch refers to static or dynamic touches from fingers or objects. Multi-user refers to how many people can write or gesture on the board simultaneously. You'll also want to pay attention to the types of digital content the screen will accommodate as well as the operating systems supported and the connectivity options.
Conferencing and Meeting Applications
While an interactive whiteboard fits very comfortably into a large job trailer that you'll inhabit for a long time, it might not be the right collaboration tool for small projects with tight spaces. That's where the video conferencing and meeting applications come in. These include apps like Zoom, GoToMeeting, ReadyTalk and many others.
People can join your meeting and interact on their mobile devices or desktops either in the same room or remotely. Everyone can share documents and screens, and most apps also have markup options for whoever is assigned as the presenter. What's new here is the continuing evolution of new features like more team options and integration of conferencing hardware. These apps have been around awhile, but if you haven't looked at them lately, you'll find some pleasant surprises.
Audience Interaction Tools
Suppose you have people in the room, and some attending remotely. It's difficult to know how engaged the remote attendees are. Using visual cues for deciding how and when to include them is also problematic. That's where feedback tools come in.
As the meeting unfolds, you can ask questions, get responses and display the results to your audiences in real time. These types of technologies also help with audience retention. If you are instructing on a new curtain wall fastening method, for example, you can make your presentation more interactive by asking your audience questions as you present the material. These tools also let you gauge understanding, and decide on where to focus if people aren't getting what you’re saying.
Using this same technology in meetings increases engagement because people feel empowered to provide input. Suppose the topic centers on a process like the one the project uses for RFIs. You can post alternative ways of processing RFIs on your interactive whiteboard and get audience votes to help focus in on processing problems, or to narrow down options that appeal to most participants.
Some of the Audience Interaction tools include hardware you provide to audience members, while others are strictly application-based. So, while iClicker has both hardware and an application, other tools like beekast and wisembly just use an app installed on the participant's mobile device.
Finally, use a meeting management app so that you get the meeting results you want. If you are using Procore, you have already got access to a robust meeting management function under the "Meetings" tab of your dashboard. Schedule, plan participants, create the agenda, notify with attached documentation, record the minutes and follow up while keeping everything organized.
If you liked this article, here are a few more you may enjoy:
A Dozen Tips for Holding A Successful Meeting
How Construction Technology is Saving Time, Money, and Jobs
Master Your Budget, Protect Your Profit Margins
Using Tech to Win More Business
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