Desktop Sharing - Apps for Sharing Your Desktop

 

You know you can get all kinds of apps for your cell phone or tablet, but don't forget your computer. You can get apps for a desktop or laptop computer. Some of them come in very handy when you need to collaborate remotely. These apps allow the desktop of one computer to be controlledfrom another one through a network or cloud connection.

 

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Why share?

Perhaps the most familiar use for sharing your desktop is to receive technical support. Your company's help desk or a company in business to help individuals solve problems will take control of your desktop. You sit and watch while the person on the other end solves the problem.

With a desktop sharing app, you can bypass the support companies if you know someone who can solve your problem, or someone whose problem you can solve. You know and trust each other, so you don't have to worry about what a stranger might do.

Sharing has other uses, too. You can collaborate with one or more other people on a presentation or spreadsheet when it is impractical or even impossible for collaborators to be physically present in the same place.

You can choose to display your entire screen with others or only a single application. You can probably communicate using either Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) or text chat.

Skype and Google Hangouts both offer screen sharing, although they don't always work satisfactorily.  Just look in a search engine to see the number of different queries asking how to solve problems with them. There are at least a dozen other free collaboration apps.

 

How to share

Providing or receiving technical support is fairly straightforward if you know how to do it. A simple conversation for collaborating on a document or preparing a presentation likewise does not present very many problems.

Sharing your screen for a meeting or conference is another matter. Giving a presentation using your screen, a sales presentation, for example, requires some different preparation and skills from live presentations or even standard videoconferencing.

First, you have to learn how to use the app. That includes both understanding the technology and the mechanics of using it to best advantage. Especially if you are in sales, overconfidence can be deadly. Even with the best interpersonal skills, technology will come between you and the other person or people. You can't conduct yourself remotely the same way you do in person and hope to be successful.

When you are making a presentation, you can't see the people you are sharing with, and they can't see you. Keep the visual aspect fresh, mixing photos, graphics, slides, videos, whiteboards, etc.  Changing the view twice per minute may not be too often. While you need to use a lot of different graphics, theyshould not be over-crowded, and certainly not boring. You don't want anyone to tune you out and watch cat videos or catch up on email instead of paying attention to you.

You need to know how to gauge participants' level of interest in real time as well as plan an interesting presentation. Be sure not to talk for more than a few minutes before finding out if what you're saying is what others are looking for, or if they understand your point. Ask open-ended questions to encourage genuine interest.  Pay as much attention to the others as you would in person.

One advantage of sharing your screen over other methods of presentation is that you can use the mouse to point to whatever it is you're talking about. Or if you're sharing a document, you can highlight and unhighlight particular passages in the text.

 

Limitations of free systems

Screen sharing apps can have many features. Free apps may not offer all of the ones you want.Moreover, some apps limit the number of participants who can be involved. Some limit the amount of time a session can last. Some limit the number of meetings you can have per day. Some will not allow you to record your sessions.

While most of the free desktop sharing collaboration applications work across platforms, some of them work only with Windows or only with Mac. In that case, all the participants must use the same operating system.

Therefore, you need to investigate many different apps and study what each offers, what each does not offer, and whatever limitations each impose. Companies like Blue Jeans sell apps for screen sharing that can give you more power and flexibility.

Sharing your screen with others provides one more way to communicate with people who are not in the room with you, whether they're in the office next door, across town, or even in another country. Once you know what you need to use it for, you can easily find an app, free or paid, that suits your purposes.

 

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