by Michael Shapiro | May 23, 2014

Well, the inevitable has occurred. Ever since I first wrote about the charmingly named NiceMeeting, I feared the Russian company would change its name for the U.S. market. They held out for a couple of years, but as of this month they now are known as Lintelus Meeting and are based in Mission Viejo, Calif. No doubt their company will monopolize Google searches for that name, but for me, it just doesn’t roll off the tongue as well.
Although I had demoed the software before via Skype, this past January’s PCMA Convening Leaders in Boston gave me the first chance to use it during a meeting, and I enjoyed it. Using what the company dubs “second-screen technology,” one can access a unique URL during a presentation via a laptop or any mobile device. I did so on my iPad during compatible sessions at Convening Leaders: A copy of the PowerPoint presentation appeared on my iPad -- the same presentation that was being projected for the room. Not only could I see the slides up close and personal, but I could jot notes directly onto them, which were automatically saved in my personal account online and could be downloaded afterward. NiceMeeting, as it were, also allowed me to ask questions of the moderators and to rate the presentation.
Attendees often have their heads buried in their respective mobile devices during presentations these days, and this is a unique way to keep them engaged with the presentation -- because, well, the presentation material is exactly what they’re looking at. For me, that’s more effective than taking notes in Evernote, for example, or tweeting comments and questions during the session.
This week I did a demo of a new mobile web app that serves a similar purpose. Youbthere provides a unique URL and login for attendees during sessions. This app doesn’t mirror the presentation slides, but it is designed to engage attendees in similar fashion: They can rate the presentation as many times as they like, as it progresses; they can ask questions of the presenter, and they can answer poll questions during the session and survey questions afterward. The app also is designed as a revenue enhancer, with sellable banner space on screen for each session.
One interesting aspect of Youbthere is the extent to which speakers can use it during presentations, via the unique speaker view. The always-on rating system means a speaker could glance at a line-graph representation of the star-ratings to see if they’re better engaging the audience -- or losing them -- as they present. Also, attendees can give the thumbs-up or thumbs-down nod to everyone’s questions as they are posted, meaning the most popular questions rise to the top of the speaker’s incoming question list.
Youbthere offers planners a clean, intuitive interface to load questions in advance, and it offers everyone -- planners, attendees and speakers -- a glance at poll and survey answers in real time, as they come in. It is currently sold as an annual subscription, rather than per meeting, and is priced based on the number of sessions that will take place at each meeting. A 30-day trial allows planners to test it out for a meeting, free of charge.
I wonder how successful each of these applications will be in the meetings market as standalone products; as event mobile apps integrate more polling and survey technology, will planners be willing to contract with separate suppliers for this type of audience-engagement tech? Or maybe these companies will increasingly partner with mobile app developers, so that planners can obtain all of their mobile-friendly technology under one roof.
What do you think? Does it make sense to budget separately for this type of functionality? Comment here or feel free to email me.