Can you believe that just two years ago the entire world was trying to define what “tablet” meant because they weren't even released to the market yet? Now, tablets drive about one-third of all mobile traffic. And last August, ComScore reported that the iPad accounted for 97 percent of all tablet traffic in the U.S. So while there are certainly other models, the iPad should carry the most weight when you consider tablets for meetings.
Here are a few thoughts about where the iPad fits at meetings and events:
One useful application for iPads is for presentations. Depending on your version of the iPad and the hardware that it is connecting to, you will need to be aware of a few things. First, if you or your presenters are using a first-generation iPad, you will need a presentation app to push your content to a projection screen or other external display. Some of these apps include Keynote, eProjector, and 2Screens (I like this one because it allows displaying content from the Internet). The next important thing to know is that the second-generation iPad allows for screen mirroring. This means that no special app is needed to send your content to a screen; the external display will mirror what is on the iPad's screen (including your home screen, multimedia, or any app).
No matter which version you use, you will need specific hardware. It would be most useful to know ahead of time what external displays you'll be using for presentations. Since projectors and screens are most common, the VGA adapter is the most popular adapter to buy. If you're using displays such as LCD or plasma monitors, you — or your speakers — will need to bring a digital AV adapter. This adapter can actually send audio to the monitor as well, if it is equipped with speakers. Finally, an adapter you might encounter is a composite or component adapter, but these are generally used only in consumer, or home-theater, systems. Of special note: All of the adapters are commonly called dongles, so don't be taken aback or worry about stifling a giggle when your AV technician asks if you have brought the appropriate dongle!
Another creative way to use the iPad 2 for presentations is as a document camera. For example, if you have a document that isn't digitized (perhaps artwork or some other paperwork that can't be scanned), you can use the video camera feature to display the document on a large screen to an audience — think of it as an overhead projector. Also very handy is an iPad whiteboard app, which allows presenters to make notations on an image or document. Some presenters have used it as a “telestrator” — achieving the Sunday football x's and o's effect.
With its portability and ability to provide instant updates for remote collaborators, the iPad is a phenomenal productivity tool. Some of the most popular applications include note-taking and conducting online meetings.
Among the note-taking apps are Notes, Penultimate, WritePad (which converts handwriting to typed notes), and iBrainstorm. A stylus, which generally runs between $5 and $15 and mimics the action of a finger/pen, will come in handy. For the best cloud-based note-taking, try Evernote, which can save your ideas and things you find on the Internet, store URLs, and even clip specific sections from online articles. The best part is that since the app is cloud-based, your items are then synced across all your devices, whether they are Apple products or not. Imagine taking notes on your iPhone at a meeting, then opening your desktop and finding them already there, with no connecting cables or manual synchronization needed. Brilliant!
For online meetings or Web conferencing, check out Fuze, Webex, GoToMeeting, FaceTime, Skype, and Adobe Connect. They all integrate with your existing solutions, and the iPad 2 will even allow for videoconferencing. If you need to review documents with a group (for example, room drawings), but want to make sure everyone is looking at the same thing, use GoDocs to manage and view Google Docs. Or try SyncPad and have everyone log in to the same meeting room (you can do this from any Web-enabled device/desktop; it doesn't have to be an iPad) and share annotations.
Once you begin to daydream and experiment with the iPad, there's a good chance you'll discover new and exciting uses you hadn't thought possible, from taking orders on site, to collecting registration fees, to using it for reporting or forms.
MIDORI CONNOLLY is “Chief AVGirl” at Pulse Staging & Events, and senior tech adviser to Seven Degrees Communications. In addition to owning and operating an AV company, she is a professional speaker and writer. Connolly specializes in providing end-to-end hybrid meeting design, strategic planning, and technological execution. Her passion is to make technology more human, approachable, and sustainable. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter: @AVGirlMidori.