Meetings are where the action happens, information is shared, decisions are made.

So it's important that time spent in meetings is productive. Whether it's a scheduled weekly meeting or an ad-hoc, crisis-driven get together, people are taking time out of their busy day to be there. Productive meetings are all about sharing information effectively. Whether you are at your desk, on the road or in a purpose-built meeting room, every attendee wants to get the most from their time spent in a meeting.

Sharing content in a meeting, whether it's your desktop screen or an application, is often the best way to get your point across. From a simple presentation to a detailed walkthrough of a spreadsheet; the transfer of visual information only works if everyone can see what you are trying to say.

When remote participants are dialled into a video meeting, sharing content effectively across multiple sites is even more important. Remote participants can become disengaged from the meeting if they can't follow what is going on.

From the person sharing the content's point of view:

1) You want to make sure that everyone joining you in the call can see the content as you intend.

2) You want the content to be of great quality so that people can see what it is you are trying to say.

3) You want feedback (preferably visual, sometimes aural) that everyone understands your message and is keeping up.

No matter what type of room or room system you use to connect to the meeting, the video and content should work together seamlessly. In a single screen system, you should be able to choose to view the content alone, or view both the content and the incoming video stream on the screen together. You shouldn't have to choose between video or content, which is what several systems out there make you do. In a dual screen system, you want content to make use of a whole screen for the content whether local or remote.

Most importantly, you never want the shared content to replace the video stream.

When this happens, the content can only be seen:

a) If the video is actually being displayed on the screen (It may not be on the screen at all at the far end).

b) Only if the person talking (the active speaker) is also the person presenting and, even if they are, you still get the voice / video switching removing the content from the central view whenever another participant asks a question. Putting the presentation content inside the video stream also means that content stealing doesn't work. i.e. if someone else wants to present their content, there is no way to "take control" meaning multiple participants might think they are presenting content at the same time. p1p2 p3

Old school video conferencing generally consisted of everyone sat in meeting rooms using identical room system hardware managed by expensive on-premise server solutions, in these cases shared content could be made to work.

In the modern workplace, people join meetings from a wide variety of locations and endpoints. From laptop software clients in a hotel room, through to mobile clients on a train, as well as from a mix of meeting room solutions. In addition to people joining from remote locations, more and more companies make video calls between different organizations where you cannot guarantee what hardware the people at the far end might be on.

From all of these different ways of joining a meeting, it is important to make sure that both the video and the content work as they should do in all cases.

StarLeaf endpoints connected to the StarLeaf OpenCloud platform support content sharing in both directions as you would expect. But the interoperability of the StarLeaf OpenCloud platform means that you also get the same great content experience no matter what technology you use to join a StarLeaf meeting.

For Skype for Business users, the StarLeaf OpenCloud ensures that the content stream to and from Skype for Business uses RDP as Microsoft intended it to. This works for both desktop Skype for Business users as well as for the StarLeaf GTm family of Skype for Business room systems. These systems enable Skype for Business natively in all sizes of meeting rooms from huddle spaces, right through to boardrooms

As well as supporting Skype for Business, and StarLeaf's own hardware and software endpoints, the StarLeaf OpenCloud also enables other manufacturer's legacy endpoints to be connected to the StarLeaf OpenCloud. This allows customers to continue to use existing video conferencing equipment alongside newer solutions or mobile platforms.

This interoperability provided by the StarLeaf OpenCloud not only provides transcoding and routing functions for the video streams, it also applies to the content capability of each endpoint, ensuring that the content always takes central stage whatever method you use to join the meeting. This can help to preserve any existing investment in meeting room hardware without the need for costly on-premise infrastructure to make even the simple use cases work properly.

Many video conferencing providers talk about enabling a great content experience but unfortunately not all of them live up to the bold claims.

At InfoComm 2016, StarLeaf demonstrated a multiparty video conference consisting of a Polycom HDX, a Cisco SX20, a Skype for Business desktop client, a GTm 5250 Skype for Business meeting room system, a GTm 5140 Huddle Room solution for Skype for Business, multiple StarLeaf GT Mini cloud-connected hardware endpoints as well as a variety of software clients (PC, MAC and Linux) and mobile applications (iOS and Android).

No matter which device shared a screen into the conference, every single one of these endpoints could view all of the content in the right place all of the time.

At StarLeaf, we know that bad meetings waste time, whereas good meetings save time and information sharing is at the heart of a good meeting experience. That's why content sharing is so important to us. No matter whether you join a meeting at home or on the move, from a laptop or desktop, mobile device or meeting room, StarLeaf ensures that the content takes central stage so that every participant can be at their productive best.