If you’ve ever called in remotely for a group meeting, you know how frustrating it is to hear the presenter saying, “If you’ll look at this slide” … because you can’t see that slide.
To help avoid that situation, we’ve outlined how to make it easy for you and your coworkers to incorporate screensharing into meetings so that everyone can collaborate, whether they’re in the office or not.
Screensharing ranges from just what it sounds like – allowing others to see whichever parts of your computer screen you’d like to share – to programs that have added functionality, such as the ability to annotate.
Here’s what you need to know to get started with screensharing for your next meeting.
First off, decide if screensharing is right for your meeting. In some cases, you might not need it – having everyone look at the same content on their own laptops could do the trick.
For example, a weekly team meeting might call for reviewing the same spreadsheet each time and talking over the updated numbers. Everyone can just open the spreadsheet on their individual computers.
In that case, the easiest way to distribute files you’d like to discuss during the meeting is to save them somewhere that everyone can access. Dropbox, Box or Google Drive are all good options. Double-check the file permissions to make sure that everyone in the meeting can view the documents.
To make it easy for everyone to find the files, add the shared document links to the details section of your meeting invite on a shared calendar. Or send out the links by email in advance, along with the meeting agenda.
Tip: If you’re using cloud-based file sharing services like we mention here, be sure the meeting room has WiFi access.
If you’re using videoconferencing for your meetings, you’re in luck. Most business-level services include easy-to-use functions for sharing content or your whole screen. Plus, they can handle streaming video, which bogs down some screensharing tools.
Enterprise videoconferencing services have other added functions, like annotations. Zoom, for instance, shows an annotation menu as soon as you share your screen, which lets you draw attention to certain parts of your screen by using tools like highlighters and arrows. It’s also mobile friendly, letting you present content or share your screen from your phone or tablet.
Chat programs can be great for collaboration during meetings. With chat, meeting participants don’t have to wait for a break in the discussion to ask a question. They can post their comment when they think of it and the presenter can answer when it’s convenient.
Plus, certain chat platforms include file or screensharing options. HipChat, for example, lets you share your screen on any device, or grab files from your Dropbox or email folders.
Slack has Screenhero, which lets two people work together on a shared screen, with each person receiving their own mouse cursor for control. (Hint: Slack also integrates with various videoconferencing services, so you can launch a videoconference with a slash command.)
For meeting attendees in the same conference room, having the content up on a large, wall-mounted screen can help the discussion stay on track. Because people can stand and point to certain parts of the presentation while they talk, it feels more collaborative. Plus, everyone is looking at the same place, which doesn’t always happen when each person is hunched over their own laptop.
When it comes to sharing meeting presentations to a big screen, different companies handle the conference room hardware setup differently. Some use Apple TVs combined with AirPlay from the presenter’s laptop or iPad, others have dedicated videoconferencing hardware or an in-room computer paired with a wireless keyboard and mouse.
If you don’t know how to use the technology in your favorite conference room, ask your IT department in advance for a tip sheet or walk-through. Then practice bringing up files and screensharing in advance of your meeting. It’ll be much less stressful than trying to figure it out on the fly!