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Feel Like Secret Detective MacGyver En Route to a Convention

Feel Like Secret Detective MacGyver En Route to a Convention

Today's electronic gadgets allow you to poll your audience or keep track of the attendees you meet.

By Julie Moline | WomenEntreprenuer

Today’s electronic gadgets allow you to poll your audience or keep track of the attendees you meet.

Sometimes when I pack my electronic gadgets and chargers, I feel like a modern-day, female MacGuyver. Only instead of stashing duct tape and watch springs, I’m toting a laser pointer and a memory stick loaded with the graphics I plan to display in perfect counterpoint to my presentation.

Fortunately, I don’t have to lug the projector, thanks to a company called Projector123.com. Projector123 will ship an LCD projector to your hotel room, your client’s place of business, a meeting facility or a convention center-anywhere, really, as long as it’s in the U.S.

Considering the convenience-no carrying the extra weight of the projector or ushering it through airport security, and using the latest technology without investing in soon-obsolete equipment-the price seems reasonable: $99 per day or $149 per day, depending on whether you choose a 2000-lumen or 3000-lumen model. The projector’s carrying case includes instructions for the setup and a prepaid shipping carton/carrying case. To return it, you can put the package in a FedEx drop box or call FedEx to arrange pickup.

Of course, there’s always the chance that your audience isn’t as infatuated with your presentation as you are, or that you prefer to speak extemporaneously, crafting your remarks to accommodate your audience.

That’s when it’s time for another MacGuyer gadget. If you want to gauge audience comprehension or create an interactive presentation, you can use a polling device. A reasonably priced version is the ResponseCard AnyWhere, a handheld receiver with an LCD screen. It doesn’t require a projector, computer-or even an electrical outlet.

Ask your audience a question, and attendees can respond via their own ResponseCard RF keypads. The receiver tabulates and displays the results onscreen. Mike Broderick, CEO of Turning Technologies LLC, which manufactures the device, sees a market for consultants, who can carry a complete system with them to a meeting, “ready for private polling of executives during an investigatory session,” he says.

“Respondents can answer confidential questions while still in the meeting, without fear of peer pressure or influence,” he said. The system is available for purchase or rent from Turning Technologies.

Rental is $5 a day per person, including the units for audience response. There’s also a $450 event fee.

Spotme, another polling device, is more complex-and much more “MacGuyver-esque.” Use it for polling and you can integrate audience feedback directly into your presentation by downloading fresh polling results directly into a PowerPoint slide on the screen.

Spotme’s functionality, however, encourages interactivity beyond polling. For example, the Spotme wheel can cycle through a list of meeting participants and stop at one name to bring that person on stage. Or you can create an icebreaker with something like this: “There are seven people here who were born in California. Be the first person to send us an e-mail with their names, and win a prize.”

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But the real power of Spotme comes from its other functions, which are designed to help you get the most out of a large conference, convention or trade show where you’re talking to a lot of people and hearing a lot of information.

There’s a meeting scheduler to keep your appointments and social functions straight, and an electronic business card exchange function, which beats carrying home a stack of cards to input into a contract-management program.

But what intrigues me most about Spotme is the way it helps you keep in touch with other meeting-goers, even if you have trouble matching the names with the faces of the scads of people you’ve just met. A “face search” lets you browse the participant list by photo.

Looking for a group of people with something in common-for example, all colleagues in a satellite office or anyone who’s asked you to follow up with him or her in the next week? Enter a few keywords, and Spotme returns the appropriate list. If you’re eager to save a few salient points from a conversation, you can enter notes into the device. After the meeting is over, the notes will be sent to you electronically with the business card and photo of the person you talked to.

With any luck, that person is Richard Dean Anderson.

Julie Moline has been writing about corporate travel since 1980, and has since logged more than 650 business trips on five continents. She currently writes the “Road Warrior” column for Entrepreneur and has written about travel for the International Herald Tribune, Money, Harper’s Bazaar, Global Finance, Toronto Globe and Mail and The London Daily Telegraph.


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