If your goal in a meeting is to have everyone pay attention and participate, then the InterWrite Meetingpad is the perfect tool for the job. It can also help you, as a presenter, enliven your delivery.
The Meetingpad looks like a large white clipboard. How it works: You first set up a Digital Light Processing or LCD projector'or, really, any large-format display device'and attach it to a computer that will drive the presentation.
You then hold the Meetingpad and use it to control the presentation. Besides just advancing to the next slide, the board has an entire tool suite that lets a presenter jot down notes, put shapes on the screen, and even save and send slides to others via e-mail. The presenter is free to wander the room, too.
The real strength of the Meetingpad occurs in a collaborative environment. The pad uses Bluetooth wireless technology to not only link with the computer running the presentation, but also with other Meetingpads in the immediate area. You can link up to seven pads in this manner.
Each person with a pad is then able to make notes, solve problems or highlight different aspects of the presentation on the screen. So if Bob thinks that the computers in the new office can be configured a different way, for example, he can diagram his thoughts and have others comment on and dissect his suggestion.
For training or educational purposes, this is a powerful tool and really helps bring others into a meeting, instead of having them sit there with their eyes glazed over as PowerPoint shapes swirl on the screen.
The setup of the board is quite easy, though new presenters should probably take some time to practice before going into that big meeting. The pad is a tiny bit unwieldy for first-time users.
As a boon, you can slip a paper on top of the pad and still draw and make comments that will appear on the screen. This way, you could post an image on the screen and have a printed copy of the image on your pad. It also makes drawing and directing your pen a lot easier.
Having what amounts to mouse control over your next presentation is rewarding.