The paperless boardroom

The days of the one-directional presentation are gone. Enter the interactive whiteboard.

Johannesburg, 29 Aug 2019
Read time 4min 40sec
Mark Taylor, CEO, Nashua
Mark Taylor, CEO, Nashua

Remember the good old days, where most meetings involved one person writing or drawing on a flip-chart, while everyone else in the meeting scribbled furious and illegible notes? The good news is that those days are gone.

Today, people are engaged differently. They’re accustomed to being able to do everything electronically and using technology that they can interact with, and this is being carried over into meetings. It’s how you hold people’s attention and keep them engaged.

This is where the interactive whiteboard comes into its own. Originally, whiteboards were basically chalkboards without the mess. Presenters jotted down notes and sketches to illustrate the concept they were trying to convey, and existing information had to be removed to change content or create new content. Today, you can still write on the interactive versions, but you can also erase, edit, save, print and share the content on the board, as well as record audio.

Mark Taylor, CEO at Nashua, says: “You can even project images onto the whiteboard and write over them to highlight points made in the presentation. Then the amended visual can be saved and either printed out or shared electronically with attendees.”

These new capabilities are revolutionising how meetings are run. “The workplace – and meetings – are no longer constrained to a physical location,” says Taylor. “Just as people expect to be able to work wherever they are, so too can meetings be held regardless of where the attendees are located. Such attendees can be connected to the interactive whiteboard and can interact with it during the session as though they were in the room. The added benefit is that people don’t need to go into meetings to make notes. You don’t lose the audience because people are frantically scribbling down what you write on the board; they no longer need to do that.

The full presentation can be save and shared, together with the additional notes made, instantaneously. These whiteboards boost productivity and facilitate flexible working.

”Interactive whiteboards allow meeting attendees – regardless of their location – to participate, collaborate and touch as if they were in the same room. “This is an ideal medium for sharing ideas visually across multiple locations,” says Taylor. “It also means that if someone misses a meeting, you can send that person an overview of the session as captured by the interactive whiteboard.”The ability to interact during a strategy session improves the meeting outcomes when compared to sitting and listening to a presentation that’s accompanied by a slide show. “This is a multimedia approach to meetings instead of presenting a one-directional message.”

The interactive platform also makes for better data security as the information on the whiteboard can be saved or deleted immediately upon completion of the session. It also means the data is retained when it is saved, unlike traditional whiteboards where information is lost when the board is wiped.

Normally during a meeting, people make notes on paper that could be seen by people who aren’t authorised to have access to that information. Or the presenter's notes remain on the flip-chart or conventional whiteboard until someone thinks to remove them. Either way, that information is open to abuse until it is deleted or removed. In the event of an interactive whiteboard session, you can save and close the presentation and only those in attendance have access to the data. This frees up the presenter to discuss confidential or sensitive matters without worrying about leaving a paper trail.

Taylor says: “People are given a code that enables them to enter the meeting and, once the session is over, that code i: no longer functional. For instance if the company’s financial spreadsheets are shared with additional notes and edits, the presenter doesn’t have to remember to clean the whiteboard or throw away the paper after the meeting.”

The technology

A traditional interactive whiteboard needs a projector that’s connected to a laptop. Multitouch interactive whiteboards have LED screens and, although they have their own software, are also linked to a PC. Taylor says: “It’s also possible to add application-specific software, so if, for example, you want to illustrate a specific activity – such as an experiment in a laboratory – for training purposes, you can use software that enables that.”

These interactive whiteboards support multi-presenter/multi-site collaboration. Not only can people be connected on their laptops or PCs from remote locations, several whiteboards can also be linked together to allow multiple participants to collaborate in a session.

The end result is more engaging presentations. It also means decisions can be made there and then and documents amended on the spot, with all relevant parties’ buy-in. People are communicating and collaborating in a new and evolving way using an interactive platform.

The interactive whiteboard is just another device, much like a laptop, tablet or cellphone. It enables participants to engage with what’s being discussed – with a greater chance of retaining information and reaching mutual understanding.