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Real-Time Visuals for Better Meetings

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Through the power of real-time visual communication, SmartDraw makes planning and conducting meetings much more efficient and productive—saving both time and money. …

Through the power of real-time visual communication, SmartDraw makes planning and conducting meetings much more efficient and productive—saving both time and money.
- Reduce average meeting time by more than 25%
- Achieve clarity and consensus faster
- Eliminate the seemingly endless cycle of revisions and follow-up meetings

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  • 1. Real-Time Visuals for BetterMeetings 9909 Mira Mesa Blvd. San Diego, CA 92131 Phone: 858-225-3374 Toll Free: 800-817-4271 Fax: 858-225-3390 www.smartdraw.com
  • 2. Through the power of real-time visualcommunication, SmartDraw makes planningand conducting meetings much more efficientand productive—saving both time and money. Reduce average meeting time by more than 25%. Achieve clarity and consensus faster. Eliminate the seemingly endless cycle of revisions and follow-up meetings.As a visual processor, SmartDraw makes creating real-time visuals possible for everyone. UsingSmartDraw’s meeting templates, tasks can be easily assigned and accounted for and project plans canbe created and adjusted in real time. This allows more quantifiable work to be accomplished during themeeting, eliminating the seemingly endless cycle of revisions and follow-up.IntroductionIn the business world, time is a precious commodity. Businesspeople spend a lot of time in meetings.Not to mention time spent planning them and performing follow-up tasks. Successful meetings arecollaborative, efficient, productive and empowering.Unfortunately, most meetings are not effective. They don’t follow a well-prepared plan, tend to get offtopic, and results are not easily verified. Time is wasted. Team members lose interest and feelunengaged. The benefit of collaboration is lost.Real-time visuals are the key to successful meetings. They should be used for meeting preparation,presentation, information capture and follow-up. This provides tangible benefits to managers, allowingthem to get the most from their team members’ valuable time. Using visuals provides a solution thatcan significantly shorten the length of the meeting cycle (planning and preparation, execution, andfollow up).It also allows participants to capture, in real time, the collaborative results of their meeting. This “liveinformation capture” is made in an easy-to-use visual format. Decisions made, tasks assigned, andtimelines for implementation are shared in a visual format for all to see. Everyone is on the same page.Nothing falls through the cracks. Live information capture using visuals provides tangible results.Meetings now have a measurable return on investment for companies that adopt its use throughouttheir organization.Isn’t it much more productive to have team members actually working on project tasks to achieve theirgoals and objectives, rather than spending their time in meetings? Ask yourself this question: if youcould make more time for your team, how much more could be accomplished?Fortunately, today there is a solution that for the first time enables the real-time creation of visuals,which changes the face of meetings forever. It is called the visual processor.2 www.smartdraw.com 800-817-4271 ©2012 SmartDraw, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • 3. What is a visual processor?A word processor enables anyone inyour company to create nicelyformatted written documents quicklyand easily. A visual processor allowsanyone to create professional-looking,automatically formatted visuals just asquickly and easily. There is no“drawing” required. In fact, you caneven use the keyboard to create yourvisuals! With a visual processor, great-looking visuals are just as quick andeasy to make as great-looking writtendocuments.There is no longer any reason not to use visuals as much as written words in all businesscommunication (documents, presentations, emails, etc), including meetings.SmartDraw is the world’s first visual processor. Until its introduction in June 2010, traditional graphicssoftware was all that existed. Graphics software requires too much time, expertise, and designexperience for it to be effective or useful for 98% of business users. With the breakthroughs ofautomatic formatting and the built-in “know-how” of the visual processor, anyone can createpresentation-quality visuals in real-time, or in other words, “at the speed of thought.” It also provides,for the first time, the ability to capture collaborative information during meetings. This is done in real-time, so that everyone is on the same page. Meeting participants can discuss topics, brainstorm ideas,and make decisions that are instantly documented in a visual format. The visual documents can evenbe converted into a project plan with a single click!Simply put, the visual processor reinvents business in many ways. Visuals are scientifically proven to beup to six times1 more effective than words alone in communicating ideas, data, information, processes,plans, projects and more. This improved communication leads directly to increased sales, lower costs,productivity gains, and reduced errors. That adds up to significant business performanceenhancement.This changes everything. The visual processor can create a variety of different visuals – all of the onesthat are commonly used in business meetings:3 www.smartdraw.com 800-817-4271 ©2012 SmartDraw, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • 4. Now, for the first time in history, the benefit of using visuals significantly outweighs the time it takes tocreate them. And the visuals created by the visual processor have built-in standards called visualgrammar, so that everyone’s visuals follow rules that make understanding them much easier. Thisenables widespread adoption throughoutthe organization (and even outside of itwith partners, customers and suppliers),much in the same way that writtendocuments follow generally acceptedrules of grammar and punctuation so thatthey can be easily understood by wideaudiences.Traditional graphics software (like Microsoft Visio® and the Microsoft Office® drawing tools) are animpediment to the widespread business use of visuals, because their lack of automatic formattingmeans that it takes too much time, hassle and ultimately cost to make the return on creating themworth the effort. This is why so few business users have ever created a visual—in fact, less than 3% ofall business communication uses visuals. They also cannot be created in real-time, causing extra cyclesof transcribing, reviewing, and editing that waste time and generate poor results.In fact, some organizations that are using the visual processor in meetings have even replaced theirwhiteboards and ad hoc note-taking with real-time documentation using meeting-specific visuals. Theirresults have been higher engagement and agreement by team members, and significantly decreasedfollow-up time required to produce essential meeting documents and project action plans. Capturinginformation visually and at the speed of thought translates into immediate team action and increasedproductivity.4 www.smartdraw.com 800-817-4271 ©2012 SmartDraw, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • 5. More Productive MeetingsIn a survey of Microsoft® employees known as Microsoft Office Personal Productivity Challenge (PPC),the results found that on average people spend 5.5 hours a week in meetings, and 71% feel thatmeetings are typically unproductive2. The survey also found that the most common pitfalls are unclearobjectives, lack of team communication, and unclear priorities3.That is a staggering amount of lost time that could have been prevented by communicating visually. Allof the above pitfalls can be addressed from the proper planning of the meeting and employing theproper use of visuals to turbocharge the overall effectiveness of the meeting. A recent study from theUniversity of Minnesota found that the average length of meetings in which visuals were used were26.8% shorter (26.7 minutes vs. 18.6 minutes) than meetings in which no visuals were used4. So, bychanging how your meeting is planned and run via visuals, the productivity and communication to theparticipants improves exponentially. To paraphrase Ben Franklin, time saved is money earned.How do you make meetings both shorter and more productive?Let’s look at the most commonly used tool – the meeting agenda. Meeting agendas are typically lists oftopics and sub-topics for the group to discuss within the time scheduled. However, lists are limited intheir ability to communicate. Using SmartDraw to brainstorm with mind maps and present anassignment view of a project, the meeting planner is now able to create better accountability. Bybrainstorming your meetings and projects visually, you can better understand and more powerfullycommunicate the topics and sub-topics and how each is interrelated within the overall discussion.With SmartDraw, you have the ability to change and revise any aspect of your project during thecourse of the meeting to properly and accurately record the discussions. Moreover, with the visualprocessor, accountability is created more quickly, clearly, and easily than ever before.In essence, by using visuals instead of text-only lists and written documents, you save time in thepreparation of the meeting and meeting agenda. The outcome is that you communicate effectively andthoroughly to the participants ensuring they understand the objectives of the meeting and the actionsand priorities that result from it. This eliminates future meetings and discussions for the sake of clarity.Time saved and time well spent. Meeting Agendas (assignment view)5 www.smartdraw.com 800-817-4271 ©2012 SmartDraw, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • 6. PresentationsWhy is it that so many presentations are painful to sit through? Presentations are often disengaging,boring, and ultimately a waste of time (for the audience and presenter). In an online survey conductedby A Time to Market training centers, nearly 66% of the respondents said it takes about one to fivehours to create a presentation5. So, if you are going to spend that much time preparing a presentation,why create it in such a way that leads your audience believing the presentation you worked so hard onis a waste of their time; and ultimately your time?The problem is that so often presenters do not plan nor give their presentations visually. A visualpresentation builds engagement and your audience walks away absorbing the information and feelingthat it was time well spent.So, what are the barriers preventing people from using visuals more in their presentations? In nearlyevery case the problem is the very tool that is supposed to have elevated the presentation –PowerPoint®.Since PowerPoint® was introduced in 1987; a stack of bulleted PowerPoint® slides has becomesynonymous with "presentation." Weve all sat through meetings where a co-worker reads the bulletsfrom each slide of a PowerPoint®. Needless to say presentations like this are as ineffective as they areboring.Why do most presentations follow this formula? Ironically, the main culprit is PowerPoint® itself. Fromthe beginning PowerPoint® was designed to make it easy to type in a title and bullets. Creating a slideof bullets was the default action, and after a quarter of a century, it still is!SmartDraw removes these barriers and places the power to create visually rich presentations into thehands of everyone. SmartDraw gives you a whole new way to create your presentation that reinventsthe way you use PowerPoint®.But creating a truly visual presentation means more than taking an existing text-based presentationand replacing some of the bullets with visuals. You need to think visually, plan visually, and composeyour presentation visually. SmartDraw automates the creation of visuals to such a degree that anyonecan do it, and get great results in minutes. Creating professional-quality visuals with SmartDraw is aseasy as typing bullets in PowerPoint®.But even the best visual can be ineffective if displayed in the wrong way in your presentation.As presentation expert Rick Altman explains in his excellent book, Why Most PowerPoint®Presentations Suck and How to Make them Better, showing a visual to your audience all at once can beoverwhelming. They will be too busy trying to absorb all the information to focus on the specific pointyou are trying to make. Rick calls this "drinking from the fire hose." Instead, its better to reveal thevisual in a series of steps. Rick calls this "sequencing.”By stepping through the graph, your audience can follow the argument with much greatercomprehension than just putting the whole graph in front of them in one pass.Here’s an example:We can show this graph in its entirety:6 www.smartdraw.com 800-817-4271 ©2012 SmartDraw, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • 7. Or we can show it in a series of steps with commentary: “As you can see we have seen a steady growth of smart phone sales over the past four years.”7 www.smartdraw.com 800-817-4271 ©2012 SmartDraw, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • 8. “But it’s important to note that sales of normal phones have fallen off just as quickly.”“We see clearly that total sales of all phones have actually grown quite slowly during this period. Smart phone sales have largely replaced regular phone sales.”SmartDraws presentation features totally reinvent the way you use PowerPoint®. Not only doesSmartDraw make it easy to replace boring bullets with powerful visuals, it gives you a better way tocompose, build, and manage all your presentations. The result is better, more effective presentationsthat are even easier to create and edit.Effective presentations lead your audience to more quickly absorb the information presented, andleaves them satisfied that they spent their time well. And for that reason, your time spent in thepreparation and delivery of the presentation is now appropriately well allocated and justified.8 www.smartdraw.com 800-817-4271 ©2012 SmartDraw, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • 9. Email, Reports, and CommunicationCommunication is at the core of all businessand is the life blood of organizations. In thepast, before word processors wereintroduced, written reports and documentswere created only by a small pool ofprofessional document specialists (typists).This meant the process of creating one wasfairly time consuming, error-prone, costly,and involved a back-and-forth processbetween the person trying to communicateand the person creating the writtendocument. The result was that writtencommunication was not nearly optimal. Assoon as the first word processors, with theirautomatic formatting and built-in know-how, began to show up on a large number of employeedesktops a significant breakthrough occurred that changed business communication forever.Improvements came in ways no one had ever imagined possible. For those who purchased wordprocessors for all of their employees, the incredible return on investment became evident very quickly.But it still took time for some companies to see that they were quickly falling behind the times andlosing their competitiveness. They resisted change, even though embracing and adapting to the changewas clearly the right thing to do. In the end, word processors did end up on every business person’s PC.Today, there are so many different ways people communicate both internally and externally in theirbusinesses that it becomes paramount to communicate in ways that everyone can understand and doit in an expeditious manner. Visual communication is the language, and by leveraging the power ofSmartDraw’s visual processor, it is now possible to break down all global language barriers andcommunicate visually by leveraging the power of SmartDraw’s visual processor. How?SmartDraw provides you the ability to create professional-quality visuals such as charts, mind maps,and flowcharts in a manner of minutes. You can then export those visuals to a myriad of file formats ordirectly into your email client for immediate sending and delivery to those with whom you arecommunicating. No other traditional graphic software program can compete with SmartDraw’squickness and efficiency. SmartDraw saves you time and energy in the creation of the visual, thesending of the visual, and the absorption of the information via the visual.In a meeting, the real-time visuals created and edited in SmartDraw can also be instantly delivered toall team members via email, or checked into Microsoft SharePoint© so that everyone can access themthe moment they get back to their desks.Project ManagementMany projects are delivered late and over budget. More often than not, a project is doomed to be latefrom conception because of the flawed assumptions and estimates of the people managing it, and thisis because the vast majority of people tasked with managing projects in their organizations dont haveany successful method or process to rely upon. Many project managers simply "wing it" and the resultis late projects. Time, money, and resources are wasted.9 www.smartdraw.com 800-817-4271 ©2012 SmartDraw, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • 10. Typically, unsuccessful project managers plan projects something like this: identify a few broad, coarsetasks and arbitrarily produce an estimate based upon how long they think it will take. They do it thisway because its quick and easy, but the result is project timelines and estimates that arent realistic.The solution to all of these project planning and scheduling woes is to use a simple system thatreplaces off-the-cuff assumptions with facts and data, and to have it empower the project planningand team meetings. This keeps everyone on the same page. This is especially true if the project team isgeographically distributed and interacts primarily over the internet (with a service such as WebExTM orGoToMeetingTM).SmartDraw’s visual processorsimplifies project managementthrough its innovative project chartsthat ultimately will keep the projecton time and under budget. Themeeting agenda can be even turnedinto a project chart or timeline witha single click of a button.Project management requiresbreaking down large tasks into anumber of smaller tasks, estimatingthe completion dates of thosesmaller tasks, and rolling them upinto estimates for larger tasks untilyou have a set of estimates for theentire project. Additionally, youmust determine the order in whichthese tasks are to be completed andwhich tasks maybe dependent uponthe completion of others so the project moves forward fluidly.SmartDraw does this for you,automatically. SmartDraw createsand manages your project charts,no matter the complexity and size,easily and quickly so that virtuallyany manager can beginimmediately. The manager now hasat his fingertips an easy-to-usesystem to manage and track thevarious tasks and sub-tasks withinthe project so that everythingmaintains its schedule towards completion. Project managers who employ project charts viaSmartDraw save more time than other project managers because their projects are completed on timeand under budget. They are able to estimate more accurately their completion dates saving time andresources that otherwise would be wasted.In business, there are often repeated projects and sets of tasks. Usually project managers must buildnew project tasks from the ground up every time the project re-occurs. This is more wasted time.Instead of requiring you to rebuild these projects, SmartDraw allows you to create your own custom10 www.smartdraw.com 800-817-4271 ©2012 SmartDraw, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • 11. library of common tasks to reuse again and again. The libraries preserve the order in which the tasksmust be completed as well as any dependencies among the tasks.ConclusionBusinesses can never have too much time – which is why time, in all aspects of business, is so vitallyimportant. And meetings can be one of the biggest time wasters in any organization. Businesses thatthink, plan, manage, and communicate visually are the ones that demonstrate how to recoup moretime than those that don’t. That’s because visual communication should be easy, fast, flexible, anduniversally understood – this is especially true when it comes to meetings.Until the invention of the visual processor by SmartDraw, visual communication wasn’t possible,because creating and editing visuals just took too much time to make it worth the effort. The visualprocessor makes real-time capture of information possible in a collaborative meeting environment(even over the internet using a service such as WebExTM or Go-to-MeetingTM. Only by leveraging thepower of SmartDraw’s visual processor are organizations able to improve efficiency, optimizeoperations, improve communication and manage projects to meet deadlines, leading to real worldtime savings and measurable return on investment.Here are examples of visuals being used by different departments oforganizations in various industries: Sales (charts) Marketing (assignment views, charts) Facilities (project management) HR (org charts, mind maps, flowcharts)11 www.smartdraw.com 800-817-4271 ©2012 SmartDraw, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • 12. Finance (charts, mind maps) Product Development (flowcharts) Buy and save $100 for a limited time. Download a copy of To watch a video showing If you prefer to contact one SmartDraw for free by how easy it is to conduct a of our product specialists, clicking here. visual meeting with click here or call us at 800- SmartDraw, click here. 817-4271Endnotes1 “Presenting Effective Presentations with Visual Aids,” U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA Office of Training and Education,Published May 19962, 3 Microsoft Office Personal Productivity Challenge (PPC), Published 20054 “Documents and Writing Reports,” University of Waterloo, Department of Systems Design Engineering, Published by John S.Zelek, P.Eng, Ph.D. 20045 “A Time to Market Online Survey,”A Time to Market (www.timetomarket.co.uk), Published 201012 www.smartdraw.com 800-817-4271 ©2012 SmartDraw, LLC. All rights reserved.