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10 Clever Ways You Can Save More Time at Work with Minimum Efforts

save time in office

If your job is like most other jobs, you probably work with daily targets, which must be met for your day to be considered productive and also you save time for more work deliverables. In such a scenario, every second of your day counts. Procrastination, open-ended deadlines, unnecessary meetings, water-cooler chats, too many coffee breaks, etcetera, are all culprits that could keep you from reaching your targets. 

Considering that time is your most important resource, it only makes sense to find ways to save those precious minutes so that each day is more productive than the next. Here’s how you can earn extra minutes back from your day.



1. Confirm meeting agenda beforehand

Tools like Aira were created specifically to address the challenges surrounding meeting management, such as attendance and agenda planning. However, due to human nature, it’s common for a meeting agenda to balloon when attendants raise issues they feel warrant a discussion. A lot of times though, you will find that some matters can be addressed informally between colleagues.

As such, when you schedule a meeting and you suspect that it might drag on unnecessarily, touch base with attendants beforehand and attempt to address any major issues that they’d like to have on the agenda. By so doing, you will not only keep your meeting running on schedule, but you will also gather important information which you can use to reach decisions faster during meetings.


2. Create processes to avoid repetition

Have you ever found yourself handling the same query multiple times, but each time you need to start from scratch?

When you have systems and processes, you can avoid such repetition and save more time at work. For example, say you are a manager at a guest house and it’s your job to orient new guests. Orientation means dedicating time to each guest, which is not sustainable if you receive several guests a day. A better approach would be to prepare a welcome package so that each guest goes through some sort of DIY orientation.

This applies to practically every job. When you have processes that are documented and formalized, not only will things move smoothly, but in case you are away from work, other colleagues can easily relieve you.


3. Use Templates

You also need templates just as much as you need systems and processes. Templates are a huge time saver in project management, web design, reports, content writing, etcetera. A project proposal for instance always retains most of its elements. Therefore, you don’t need to write your proposals from scratch. The same goes for websites; if you can find a template that fits your website’s purpose, go with it instead of starting a fresh build.


4. Batch similar tasks

batch tasks

How do you plan your weekly/monthly tasks?

If you find multiple similar jobs on your task list, allocate them in the same block of time. You might not expect this, but when you switch from one task to another, you take a lot of time to wind down the current task and then plan and get into the next task.

You can save time by batching together tasks that need you to use the same resources (skills, tools, systems).

For example, if you need to schedule several meetings, instead of spreading such tasks throughout the day, block out some time, log into Aira and schedule all meetings in one sitting.


5. Message or call people instead of emails

Do you have an urgent issue to be solved? Call; don’t email. Better yet, get up from your desk, walk to the person you want to email and have a conversation.

If you have other means of accessing people, opt for those before you use email. It’s generally faster to call than email a person. Not to mention, you get immediate feedback when you call, and can therefore strike off that task from your list. 


6. Unsubscribe from unnecessary notifications

Have you subscribed to receive newsletters, product notifications, latest blogs, reports, case studies and more? You probably subscribe to all these services due to the fear of missing out…and you could be right. If missing an update or report will negatively impact your work, then by all means keep the subscription. However, if all you do is archive your subscription emails, it’s time to hit “unsubscribe”.

In addition, if you have multiple emails or gadgets, manage all your notifications from one email. This way, you don’t have to switch between emails and gadgets just to read notifications.


7. Turn off Popups

Popups can be quite distracting. Every time you see a popup, you have to divert attention either to dismiss it or read it.

We aren’t just talking about online popups that come up when you are on the web; desktop popups are just as distracting, and you should also turn them off. 


8. Use mailing Lists

You probably write to the same list of people every day, a few times a week or month.  Some people get a certain report, others get updates for a certain project, etcetera.

It’s difficult to hold all these people’s names in your head and even if you could, you would need to type out their email addresses every time you email them. This will consume a lot of time, even with the autofill option turned on. Not to mention, mistakes happen, and you could leave out a recipient when typing from memory.

You can solve this problem by creating a mailing list for your different groups. 


9. Use Checklists

Checklists save time by systemizing tasks and hence minimizing the amount of mental energy you spend navigating through a task.

Every task has many parts. Traveling overseas for instance involves booking a ticket (and visa where applicable), packing, booking a hotel room, etcetera.

Each of these tasks also has other smaller tasks. For instance, to pack, you might need to:

  • Pick your black suit from the dry cleaners
  • Check your toilet bag for essentials
  • Go shop for extra toiletries
  • Buy a few t-shirts on Amazon   

When you have such a checklist, you can work through the steps of getting your tasks done more easily.


10. Take breaks

Yes. You need to take a break. Whether it’s your tea break or lunch break, take that break.

Research shows that human beings are only productive for roughly 3 hours. As such, working endlessly will not get you to achieve more, but less. Taking a break is a great way to:

  • Clear your head by being outdoors
  • Reenergize with some nutrition
  • Get to know your colleagues better through conversation
  • Increase blood flow through movement



Conclusion

Busy work, meetings and repetitive processes are some of the ways people waste time at work. You also probably waste time in a similar manner without realizing it. This list is a great place to start auditing your day to find activities that waste your time and then improving on those to increase productivity.

How To Surpass The 80/20 Sales Rule For More Sales Profit

80/20 sales rule

80/20 sales rule is one of the most rewarding principles of life, business, and time management. The Pareto Principle rule suggests that 80 percent of your results come from 20 percent of your activities. The valuable principle is a challenge to goal setting, highlighting the need to reconsider priorities for success.

The 80/ 20 sales rule means that most of your sales, come from twenty percent of your customers, products, sales strategies, and salespeople. This leaves a massive room for improvement in lead generation, customer management, and sales team communication.

You can improve business profitability by leveraging the 80/20 rule to improve problem solving. By leveraging technology such as artificial intelligence-powered tools like Aira, your sales team can, for instance, hold highly productive meetings, increasing problem solving and idea generation.

Through robust customer management platforms, they can zero in on the most viable sales leads. This process minimizes time wasted on customers least likely to make a purchase and cuts down on expenses. Below are the ways that you can surpass the 80/20 sales rule for more profit in sales.


1. Improve problem solving and idea generation

The sales meeting is the nerve center of all sales operations. Unfortunately, like most meetings, they have become a necessary evil. These forums should be a source of motivation and inspiration for the sales team. They have instead become part of the eighty percent of efforts that bring in little or no reward at all.

Did you know that 71% of meetings are meaningless and are only held because “this is the way we do things”? Over 65% of senior managers say that meetings keep them from realizing their goals. 64% of them say that a meeting often stands in the way of deep thinking.

That said, 62% of senior managers realize that meetings hold massive potential for the sales team. To improve sales, hold a productive meeting that leads to collaboration and sales ideas generation. To achieve this goal, follow the tips below.

  • Ensure that your meeting is a necessity. Avoid redundancy by making sure that you only hold meetings for challenges that require upwards of ten minutes to solve. If you can answer a question, resolve a problem, or access information in a few minutes, hold a one-to-one chat instead with your salesperson. If your meeting is not helpful to the sale steam, then you are wasting precious time on the meaningless effort.
  • Plan and prepare an agenda for your sales meeting. Your sales meeting should focus on sales activities, data, and feedback. As part of your agenda, start the meeting by celebrating your successes. Are there new customers or accounts? Is there progress on your targets or improvement on your bottom line? Celebrate the wins and then get to uncovering obstacles or insights on prospects.
  • Study your data and that of your competition and optimize your sales strategies. Focus on quality leads and nurture them to turn them to loyal paying customers for higher customer lifetime value. Use virtual assistants such as Aira to take meeting notes and transcriptions. After the meeting, Aira will share all action items with the sales team to preserve accuracy, encourage collaboration and accountability.


2. Trim your costs

If the vast majority of your sales strategies and salespeople produce a fraction of your top performers’ efforts, then your business is not self-sustaining. Eventually, you will run out of good money to throw at bad. Your top performers produce eighty percent of your results because they have honed vital sales skills.

They know how to ask reflective questions that uncover pain points from customers. Second, winning salespeople are naturally good at it. Data shows that 55% of salespeople could excel in doing something else besides sales. More revealing research shows that another 25% of sales professionals can become top performers while selling a different product or service.

This means that at least half of your sales team comprises unfulfilled individuals who only got the offer because they excelled in an interview. Interviews provide useful subjective data, but you need objective information to get the right hires.

Have specialized sales assessments that pinpoint sales talent. If you have team members least suited to sales, shuffle them to areas in your business, where their talents can shine. If you do not have open alternative roles, encourage them to re-enter the job market with the newfound interests and talent knowledge so they can succeed in their careers.

These tests can also pinpoint areas that talented salespeople need to work on for success. Sieve your bloated sales team and cut down on the redundant eighty percent to minimize HR, sales, and space costs.


Conclusion

In 1895, the principle’s founder, Vilfredo Pareto, noted that society has a two-way division. On one side are the successful “vital few” and at the bottom of the pyramid are the “trivial many”. In time, Pareto noted that the wealth of his country was in the hands of the elite 20% of the population. Leverage the 80/20 sales rule to reap more from your workforce, budgets, and products using the tips above.

Image credits: Unsplash.com

How Remote Workers Can Work More Efficiently

work more efficiently

The ongoing global pandemic is a remote workers boom. Sharing workspaces with children home from school requires a tough balancing act. But, despite this shortcoming, 59% of workers say that would like to extend their work-from-home schedule.

86% of workers say that they are more productive working remotely since they experience fewer interruptions than they do when working centrally. That said, there is an immense need to extend remote work comfort levels via technology. Over 50.6% of remote workers have had their productivity challenged by factors such as virtual meeting snafus.

39.6% of these employees cite virtual meeting communication problems as a major pickle. Artificial intelligence meeting assistants like Aira, for instance, can make the unproductive zoom meeting dilemma a thing of the past. Below are some of the tips that will help you work more efficiently.


1. Hold regular productive meetings

One major drawback of working from home is the severed physical connection between workers. Over 70% of remote workers say that fostering healthy relationships with their peers is as important as their jobs are. The average employee spends over a third of their life at work. That means that relationships between co-workers are a vital component of well-being.

High levels of job satisfaction go hand in hand with relationships and engagement at work. Virtual meetings can help increase engagement and foster relationships amongst work from home workers. You should have regular check-ins and one-on-ones between supervisors and employees to iron out any differences and challenges.

These meetings can tackle problems head-on, encourage creativity, and boost the camaraderie on your team. A one-on-one chat between a manager and his employee is an excellent opportunity to check on the worker’s mental health in the absence of the physical wellness meeting.

Virtual meeting assistant tools such as Aira can simplify the meeting note-taking process by logging into your virtual meeting and taking notes. Aira will free every meeting participant, allowing them to focus on the matters at hand.

She will take meeting notes, transcribe the whole meeting session, and highlight the action items. After the meeting, this handy tool will upload all the notes and transcripts in a central location to encourage follow up, problem-solving, and collaboration.


2. Streamline collaboration channels

While contact is essential between remote workers, disorganized contact can be a distraction. In the office, workers spend a lot of time mulling over non-work issues, lowering productivity. Remote work lessens this form of distraction but opens a can of worms in collaboration.

Your employees could easily miss their tasks and remain out of sync with the business’s objectives because of a lack of feedback and collaboration channels. To keep your co-workers focused on the big issue, have an efficient project management platform in place. It will increase productivity on projects, giving you a bird’s-eye view of the team’s workload.

A robust project management tool will help assign and organize your worker’s projects and tasks. If there is a need to reshuffle the responsibilities, you can do it with the click of a mouse. Have the best platform at hand for seamless time tracking, invoicing, billing, and task list creation.


3. Take a break

A remote worker does not have to deal with exhausting commutes, to and from work. In the absence of the daily commute, the employee lifestyle becomes more flexible, allowing them to lead a healthier life. Unfortunately, the work from home arrangement can wreck the work-life balance of an employee.

While the remote worker is more productive working away from the office, they are also more stressed out. 29% of remote workers say their work-life balance is out of order, while 54% of them feel more stressed. In contrast, 23% of office workers struggle to maintain a healthy work-life balance while 40% of them feel overly stressed.

To lessen the anxiety that accompanies the remote working experience, employees need to learn how to unwind by taking breaks. Data shows that workers that take brief breaks between tasks are less stressed out. Longer breaks will enhance output.

A remote worker should get up from their workstation and take a walk or grab a snack when they free most distracted or strained. Alternatively, they can meditate, or call a friend to ease the tension. Encourage your workers to try out the Pomodoro Technique to enhance productivity through its simple six-step method shown below:

  1. Select a task
  2. Focus on the task for 25 minutes
  3. Have a sheet of paper at hand and put a checkmark on it, after your 25 minutes are up
  4. Go on a five-minute break to wind up a Pomodoro sprint
  5. Repeat this process three more times
  6. Take a long break after four sprints for the rest of your working hours



Conclusion

 Employers are embracing the work from home setting and expect three times more work from home arrangements than they had before the COVID-19 pandemic. While news channels love to hype the narrative of struggling parents working from home, the reality supported by data is quite different. Working from home has its perks. The tips above can streamline remote work, increasing its productivity.

10 Benefits of Artificial Intelligence You Didn’t Know Before

benefits of artificial intelligence

AI refers to a computer system that is trained to perform tasks with human-like abilities, especially cognitive abilities. The training process includes repetitive exposure to the same elements until the computer can recognize and recall those elements in future. As the computer learns, it also acquires the ability to self-correct and reason. That’s a simple example of the benefits of artificial intelligence.

The AI market is still growing. Predictions show that by 2026, demand for AI will reach over $300 billion. According to a voice and speech recognition trends report from Grand view Research, a big driver of this growth is voice and speech recognition, which is expected to grow by 17.2% annually until 2025.

The growth of voice and speech recognition software is already evident in products such as Alexa (Amazon devices), Siri (Apple devices), Cortana (Microsoft) and Google Assistant (Android). There has also been a remarkable attempt by new brands to curve their space alongside these big players. A good example is Aira, an AI assistant that has transformed the online meeting space with its intuitive note taking and minute taking ability.  


What are the benefits of Artificial Intelligence?

The true benefits of Artificial Intelligence are realized when it can make human work easier or more efficient. For example, some AI can find insights in large bodies of data within mere minutes. Such a task would take a human being many hours, or even days to accomplish. In addition, in a factory, AI can automate repetitive tasks that usually take hours to complete.

Note that in a business, AI is not created to replace humans, but to support them in their daily functions. As a result, your company will notice these improvements:  

  • Reduced cost of business
  • Speedy and more efficient workflows
  • Higher sales conversions
  • Faster hiring processes
  • Highly accurate and improved recommender system
  • Better revenue and profits


Let’s expound on these and more benefits of artificial intelligence implementation below:

10 benefits of Artificial Intelligence you didn’t know about

1. Automating workflows

30% of activities in 60% of occupations can be automated. This is according to a 2017 study conducted by Mckinsey. Since AI can automate tasks, integrating a personal assistant into your business will help you streamline some of your activities.

With the market for workflow management systems expected to grow to $9.9 billion by 2021, AI will play a crucial part in realizing these predicted numbers, by driving more productivity in:

  • Main business functions such as sales, marketing, customer service, HR, production, supply chain management
  • Project management

2. Time management both at office and personal level

Top executives in a company usually have a personal assistant to handle administrative tasks for them. For other employees, the burden of having to worry about scheduling meetings, arranging travel, following up on client correspondence, etc., can get in the way of daily productivity.

AI can help businesses optimize their time by automating such tasks. With tools such as Cortana, Siri, Aira, among others, you can automate tasks such as:

  • Emailing 
  • Meeting management
  • Note taking
  • Planning business travel and accommodation

3. Meeting scheduling

Image credits: Pixabay.com

Meeting scheduling can take up a lot of an employee’s time. Done manually, scheduling a meeting takes a lot of coordination and planning. The back and forth emailing involved to make one meeting happen can overwhelm employees’ inboxes and also waste a lot of time.

This is yet another area that Aira excels in, as it takes the hustle out of meeting management by syncing calendars and automatically scheduling meetings based on team members’ availability.

4. Enterprise assistant

You have probably heard of Cortana, Microsoft’s virtual assistant. What you may not know is that besides the core functionalities that are inbuilt into Cortana, Microsoft has a skills kit that can enable you to program Cortana to perform company-specific tasks.

The Cortana skills kit was released during a conference in 2018. Prior to its release, the team at Microsoft trained Cortana to create tickets for employees whose computers were experiencing system difficulties, and then file those tickets to a human assistant to assist. Although that is just one skill, it is a clear indication of the possibilities for trainable AI. You can train Cortana to assist you in your work, no matter the industry you work in. Cortana can for instance:

  • Send texts and emails
  • Find places and information
  • Send you reminders
  • Manage your lists and calendar
  • Open and run aps
  • Track orders and packages
  • Track flights

You can also use Alexa to perform most of these tasks.

5. Arrange travel

If you or your team constantly need to travel, an AI app that automates flight and hotel bookings is sure to be a time saver.

In addition to Cortana which we have mentioned above, Mezi is a great example of how AI can help you with travel arrangements. Such AI utilizes chatbots to automate mundane travel arrangement tasks, leaving you to handle only the most important transactions.

6. Improving sales  

AI for Sales
Image credits: Pexels.com

A study conducted by Gartner in 2018 found that by 2020, 30% of b2b companies will make use of AI to boost some of their sales processes. In addition, 25% of customer service processes will integrate chatbots or virtual assistants.

The benefits of Artificial Intelligence adoption in business functions are evident. Some of them include:

  • AI can boost lead conversion rate by 30% (Gartner)
  • AI use in sales results in 50% increase in leads, reduces costs by up to 60% and call times by up to 70% (Harvard Business Review )
  • 63% of a salesperson time is spent on non-selling activities. AI can positively improve sales by automating this time. (resourcefulSelling.com)

There are quite a number of AI assistants in the sales space such as Conversica, Exceed, Drift, Node, Sales Force’s Einstein, among others.

7. Handling the recruitment process

Companies spend an average of $4000 to recruit a new employee. In addition, you lose up to 33% of an employee’s annual pay whenever they leave. Given these high costs, you want to avoid hiring mistakes as much as possible.

However, the tasks involved in recruiting candidates can be quite involving. For instance, every application received has to be read and screened. As such, mistakes are bound to happen, resulting in wrong hires.

AI assistants such as Mya reduce recruitment friction by cross-referencing resumes against job descriptions to find the most suitable candidates. You can also use the AI app to schedule interviews, create interview questions and shortlist candidates.

8. Improve customer response time with chatbots

Chatbot
Image credits: Pexels.com

Customers value fast response time when dealing with a business. A sure way to guarantee this is by using chatbots. Chatbots

  • Keep business going after official working hours
  • They respond to simple queries that don’t need live staff
  • They manage expectations by acknowledging that a query has been noted and will receive attention

As with most technologies, chatbot adoption was a little slow at first; people just weren’t comfortable talking to a machine. More so, first generation chatbots were simple platforms.

Today’s chatbots however are more sophisticated, conversational AI that help to

  • Streamline enterprise activities,
  • Hence boost employee productivity, and
  • Improve customer engagement

Not only can you integrate chatbots into your website, but you can also use twitter’s and Facebook’s AI assistants to improve customer handling on those platforms.  Your developers can actually create AI chatbots on Facebook’s platform design kit  and twitter’s API platform, and personalize them to suit your brand.

9. Create opportunities for personalization

Marketers experience a 20% increase in sales performance when they offer a personalized experience. In the same vein, 40% of customers are likely to buy from a brand that sends them personalized content. (Source: Instapage)

To personalize, you need to understand your customers’ needs and then target them with offers that will resonate with their position in the buyer’s journey. This needs time, money and expertise, which may be challenging for a business operating on a small budget. AI can simplify this process by analyzing data from different touchpoints and

  • Segment your customers,
  • Predict customer intent, hence,
  • Target customers with the right content and offers.

10. Forecasting 

Forecasts are a normal part of an organization’s planning process. Companies use forecasting tools to make decisions regarding

  • Inventory levels
  • Product demand
  • New product development
  • Purchase of raw requirements
  • Economics such as profitability, inflation and interest

Forecasts are critical to the long term health of a business. The process therefore has to incorporate all key information sets. More so, forecasting must be conducted in a timely and efficient manner. That is where AI systems such as neural nets and Bayes networks come in.

With Neural nets for instance, you can look for relationships in data using human-like cognitive processes such as pattern recognition. Tasks such as forecasting employee turnover based on data parameters such as pay, education level, attendance, job level, use neural nets.



Conclusion

As you can see, the use cases for artificial intelligence in business are many, and the benefits of artificial intelligence are endless. As AI continues to develop, it will inevitably converge with other areas of life. As a business, you want to be at the forefront of this curve so that you harness the limitless technological possibilities that are sure to come with an AI-led business world.

How To Write Effective Board Meeting Minutes

board meeting minutes

The board meeting is an important business meeting, which brings together an organization’s directors. In their capacity as the overseers of a business entity, directors will come together in a board meeting with board meeting minutes for strategic deliberations.

This forum helps them to review the organization’s past performance. They will then endorse any new plan of action and issue guidelines for the support of various growth initiatives. The chairperson of the board presides over the board meeting while the secretary writes the minutes. So how can a secretary of the board write effective board meeting minutes?


Make adequate preparations for the meeting

First, you need to develop a meeting agenda and then distribute it to the directors. Artificial intelligence-powered meeting assistant tools such as Aira can ease sharing your meeting agenda with your directors.

Aira helps not only in the minute writing process but can transcribe your board meeting. It will automatically join your online meetings, listen in, and list all action items. It will then send your board meeting minutes to all your directors at the end of the meeting.

Why is the agenda so important? Most meetings cannot meet their objectives because of poor preparation. To ensure that the boardroom does not fall into chaos during a meeting, sufficient groundwork is vital. First, you need to understand that your directors are a “brain trust”.

They make some of the most challenging decisions for the best interest of your business. To meet this need, they have to have access to all information. They need to be in tune with the meeting’s agenda before D-day.

Prepare the agenda document early so you have enough time to share it with the stakeholders for feedback. The basics of an agenda should include:

  • The meeting starting and stopping time
  • The names of the participants
  • The location of the meeting
  • The objective of the meeting, the topics of discussion, and the outcomes that the directors should expect

The final agenda document should have topics in order of importance. All topics should have key points and allocate time for each discussion for time management. The agenda should also outline all the material that the participants need to review before the meeting kicks off.

Enlist their roles and responsibilities in the meeting to keep your minute writing task as smooth as possible.

meeting-preparation


Use the agenda to write the board meeting minutes

With your agenda at hand, writing effective board meeting minutes will be a walk in the park. You can use the meeting agenda as a template to make the process as straightforward as possible. The secretary should take the meeting minutes as per the format that the board approves.

To ensure that your method of taking notes is consistent with that of the board, review any past minutes for confirmation. One good tip to apply when writing board meeting minutes is the use of an objective voice. 

Avoid being caught up in contentious votes or controversies. Avoid arguments and debates that crop up by sticking to the facts. Follow the agenda’s principal topics and document their discussions as the meeting progresses.

Second, remember that board-meeting minutes are legal documents. They can act as official proof of a meeting and its deliberations. You should therefore note important details such as:

  • The time, date, and venue of the board meeting
  • All attendees in attendance, their titles, and rationale for being part of the forum
  • A write up of all motions and the seconds and the outcome
  • The director’s decisions and focus

Write meeting minutes that capture the meeting’s events to keep the organization safe from any liability that scant minutes can cause. To make board meeting minute writing more manageable use Aira. This AI meeting assistant is not only a powerful minute taking and transcription tool, but is great for scheduling too.

It will help in the setup of your meeting and share your meeting’s agenda before the meeting to ease the minute writing process for you.

Aira for online meetings
Aira


Post-meeting analysis

After the meeting, go through the meeting minutes, reviewing the agenda. Using Aira’s records of the meeting, add any notes that can enhance clarification to the topic and agenda. Go through the director’s votes, motions and actions, and review the decisions noted down for clarity.

Make sure that the official record of the meeting is clear, to the point, and legible. Where possible, affix the documents and handouts that were part of the director’s discussions.


Sign, file, and share the minutes

The board meeting minutes are still not official documents of the organization until the board secretary has his signature on them. Some companies may also require the president’s signature on the minutes.

The best practice is to review your organization’s policies, protocols, and bylaws regarding signatures. Share the official board meeting minutes with all directors. A meeting assistant tool like Aira is best suited for sharing minutes and any action points.


Conclusion

The purpose of the board meeting minutes is to display the director’s intentions in a legal and official document. This makes the need to write effective board meeting notes a critical business need. Use the tips above to document the proceedings of the board. Enhance the minute writing process using the best artificial intelligence and machine learning tools.

How To Create Better Action Item List From Meetings

action item list

An action item list is an important tool for task management. Without an action items list, you could very easily overlook important tasks that need to be accomplished or go about your day quite inefficiently.

Using an action item list, however, doesn’t automatically make task accomplishment easier. It’s not uncommon to find teams that end their workday with pending actionable tasks on their to-do lists.

If you or your team are struggling with task deadlines, we will show you how to overcome this problem by creating better action items lists. We will also introduce you to a tool called Aira, that eliminates the hustle of minute taking and plans your action items for you.

Before we go into that, let’s first define “action item”.


What Is an Action Item?

During meetings, team members come up with tasks. A couple of steps need to be taken for that task or project to move smoothly. Those steps are called action items. Each action item has a person assigned to it, and that person is responsible for completing it.

The completion of each action item moves the project closer to a specified deadline (you could envision this as a finish line). To accomplish all project tasks, you must complete every action item properly and on time. For this to happen, you must set action items to properly. This means:

  • Every team member knows exactly what they are required to do
  • Each member can easily monitor and track project progress
  • Keeping deadlines realistic hence easy to meet
  • As a result, productivity will be high as tasks will be more seamlessly completed

It’s not enough to have the intention to complete a task Even merely stating that things need to get done doesn’t necessarily mean that they will get done. With an action item list, you create a map that will guide you towards your success by following simple steps.


What should an Action Item List look like?

At this point, you are probably wondering what a good action item list looks like. To answer that question, let’s consider an example of what your action items shouldn’t look like:

Example: Sample action item list

  • Vendor shortlist
  • Purchase models
  • Sales meeting

So, what’s wrong with this list?

For starters, it is vague. It’s difficult to know what those details mean. In fact, it looks just like any other list.

Great action items should be

  • Actionable
  • Clear: Complete and well-stated to remove vagueness
  • Easy to understand and manage

Here’s how to create an action item list that has these qualities.


The 7 rules that will help you create better Action Items from meetings

Rule 1: Tasks aren’t action items

tasks are not action items

A list like the one in the example above is made up of tasks. Each of these tasks is accomplished by taking a series of steps.

To make tasks actionable, you need to figure out the what, who and when of each task:

E.g Vendor search:

  • What steps exactly, need to be taken?
  • Who will take those steps?
  • When?  

Rule 2: Use verbs

Verbs are action words. “Vendor shortlist” on its own doesn’t say much. However, when stated as “prepare a vendor shortlist”, that gives a clearer picture of what needs to be done.

Using verbs not only defines what needs to be done, but also makes you mentally ready to take action.

Verbs also make it easier to recall details of tasks, which is important when handling projects that contain multiple or complex tasks.

Rule 3: Make them SMART

Teams that work with all the information they need are more likely to complete their tasks than teams that don’t. When you make your action items SMART, it means that you have included as much information as possible to make them specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timebound.

An added advantage of using this approach is that it helps with future recall. Action items usually make sense in context, therefore going to greater lengths to provide SMART details helps with better recall in the future.

Rule 4: Reduce the focus of action items to the most minimum unit

An action item should be minimal in focus. That is, it should focus only on one thing. If you can break down your action item into smaller steps, then it is too complex and broad in focus.

Ensure that action items are broken down into their smallest tasks. For example, “prepare a vendor shortlist” can be broken down into many steps and is therefore a very complex action item. Minimizing it so that its steps become action items will make it more manageable.

Rule 5: Watch out for dependencies

Some actions are dependent on other actions. For instance, if Julie from marketing doesn’t compile a list of known vendors, June from sales cannot set appointments with those vendors. Dependencies are best managed when everyone knows exactly what they are supposed to do and by when they should do it.

  • Point out dependencies where they exist to makes team members more conscious about holding back other colleagues from completing their actions.
  • Prioritize tasks with dependencies to allow other members to accomplish their tasks.  

Rule 6: Turn your process into a template

Your first attempt at creating a better action item list is going to feel a bit cumbersome. It might even consume a lot of your time. However, being meticulous with details the first time around will give you a template to work with in future.

This process can become even easier when you use Aira to automate minute taking for your meetings. Aira creates action items from your meeting discussions, thereby reducing the amount of work you need to do.

As Aira integrates with CRM and other platforms, you can easily import the action items into that software to set up and track your project workflows.  


Conclusion

Action items guide teams on what they need to do and helps them achieve those obligations by a certain deadline. If your team members still have unaccomplished items on their schedule by the end of their workday, watch out for these problems:

  • Is the focus of the action items too broad?
  • Can teams easily find action items assigned to them or do they have to comb through long lists?  
  • Are your team members overwhelmed by too many tasks?

Then, follow the process outlined above to create better action item lists.

How To Extract Minutes From Google Meet With AIRA

extract minutes from Google Meet

Zoom’s quick rise from obscurity to international stardom has been the talk of the year. A conspicuous move, it has caught the eye of rivals like Microsoft, Google, and Facebook. Consequently, all virtual meeting apps are responding to Zoom’s meteoritic rise in various ways.

Google is also cashing into the year’s vast online meeting, yoga classes, and birthday party needs. It is tapping into the online get-together space using Google Meet. An enterprise-only product, it is now free to all Google account owners.

This makes Google Meet a perfect meeting tool for businesses. Leverage the power of artificial intelligence meeting tools like Aira for productivity, and you have the perfect meeting setup. Unlike Zoom, Google Meet is free from privacy and security concerns. 

This app will support a free hour of meeting time for a minimum of 100 people. Its view displays sixteen meeting participants. To enhance security, your team members will need to log in to Google to join your meeting.

No Zoom like invite links. This way, the hosts have total control of the meeting’s privacy. Goodbye Zoombombing. Additionally, you can join a Meet meeting via a calendar invite. If you do not have one, the app will take you to a green room, until the host allows you in.

Google Online Meeting might soon become a more popular online meeting app for businesses. This begs the question; can you draw meeting minutes from the meeting platform?


How to extract minutes from Google Meet?

Image credits: unsplash.com

Video conferencing tools have become a critical part of everyday life. For this reason, businesses need to make the content that their employees create within them easily accessible. Schools, on the other hand, have to ensure that students, teachers, parents, and the authorities can review these items at the drop of a hat.

Any person without a video or internet connection should access Meet’s transcriptions. You can put your Meet content in writing by allowing your app’s advanced features to record the meeting. The G Suite or Google Workspace members can record all meetings through the process below:

  1. Start the meeting and go to the screen’s right-hand side. You will see three vertical dots. Click on them.
  2. A few settings features will pop up. Choose “Record Meeting”
  3. The app will ask you to consent to the recording. Follow its instructions and accept.
  4. A “REC” red rectangle will appear on your screen’s top left. This is a sign the Meet is recording your app.
  5. When the meeting is over, go back to the right-hand side and click on the three dots.
  6. Select “Stop Recording” from the menu
  7. The app will save the recorded content to Google Drive
  8. Google Meet will inform all meeting members when a session is recording.
  9. To transcribe your meeting minutes, you can either listen in and type or pay for transcription services.
  10. To reproduce your recordings in writing, upload your files to a transcription app of choice
  11. Set up all the in-app parameters
  12. Check out and wind up the order
  13. Review and download your transcripts

Google Meet
Google Meet


Extract minutes from Google Meet with AIRA

Aira is an intelligent meeting assistant that will manage all your business’s web meeting needs. Powered by AI and machine learning algorithms, Aira will write meeting notes and capture action items. She can intelligently pick up a meeting’s keywords and can join a meeting automatically.

All she needs to arrive on time, every time, is access to your calendar app. Aira also records all the meetings she is in attendance. Need transcription services? No problem, leave it to Aira. She integrates with amongst other tools, Gmail.

Accessing meeting notes via third party transcription services is not a seamless process. Aira can make this process straightforward in both Google Meet and Zoom. Synchronize your Meet’s recordings to Aira and she will automatically extract meeting notes from them.

Aira for online meetings
Aira



Why should you extract meeting minutes from Meets using Aira?

  • To enhance collaboration

If any of your meeting members misses the meeting, they will receive the meeting minutes to keep them up to date. They will not need to scroll through the whole recording for enlightenment.

  • To save time

Minutes are more digestible and allow their readers to quickly zone in on matters that concern them the most.

  • For multipurpose use

You can send the meeting minutes to all stakeholders to keep them up to date. The error-free notes can also work as training or educational content.

  • Accountability

Meeting minutes keeps every meeting member accountable. Aira intelligently highlights action items for review before and during the next meeting.


Conclusion

Google Meet is not a new kid on the block. It has been there for ages, under its old title; Hangouts Meet. In the past, Google only lets in educational and enterprise users. The American multinational tech firm has now made Google Meet free for Google account owners. Use it alongside intelligent meeting assistants to enhance productivity and collaboration.

Image credits: Unsplash.com

5 Best Meeting Assistant Apps That Will Rule The Web In 2021

meeting assistant apps

Do you know that over 78% of meeting participants find their meeting schedules unmanageable? Upper management is setting meetings times that leave workers feeling out of control. Disorganized meetings are so unpopular in the workplace, that most employees would rather visit the dentist than attend them.

The best meeting assistant apps can change the business meeting processes. They can enhance collaboration, engagement, and productivity. Some of the best meeting apps in 2021 include;

1. Aira

Aira

Minute taking can be a significant challenge for any meeting leader or participant. For this reason, every business should have a tool like Aira at hand to handle all minute writing. This app can also record video and transcribe.

As an illustration, you could attend a meeting expecting a conversation to follow a linear pattern. Then the participants diverge from the topics at hand. Such a situation will leave the minute taker confused about what to write. They cannot humanly transcribe every word and sift through the minutes later for gems.

Minute taking is also very distracting. If the person taking minutes has a deep involvement in the agenda, it will limit their contribution. Intelligent meeting assistant tools like Aira can ease these challenges. Aira is an artificial intelligence-powered tool that records meeting proceedings.

It will transcript all conversations and produce a voice recording at your meeting’s end. The perfect meeting assistant, it uses AI technology to track the agenda and topics.

It will then make succinct notes from your meeting. Aira will also analyze the meeting’s action items and email them to all attendees. Aira increases productivity, encourages collaboration, and keeps every meeting member up to date and accountable.


2. Calendly

Calendly

Scheduling meetings can be a tremendous source of frustration. There is nothing as worse than “Sorry, can’t make it”, heard ten times over. There is always a person too busy to attend a meeting in a particular moment.

Consequently, the meeting leader has to keep going back to the drawing board to suggest new meeting times. Then, they have to undergo the whole peeving process once more. Platforms like Calendly can make meeting scheduling much easier.

This app shows other meeting members your availability and offers them meeting times that suit all parties. If you have one too many meeting requests and need to manage your replies, go for Calendly. It will connect to your calendar app, and is compatible with Microsoft Office, iCal, and Google Calendar.

Design a meeting via Calendly and send scheduling links to all people that need to attend. The app will synchronize all confirmations to your calendar and that of your invitees. To help you connect to customers and clients, Calendly integrates with Zoom, HubSpot, GoToMeeting, Salesforce, and Zapier.


3. Slack

Slack

Slack is a business messaging app that makes internal communication between colleagues effortless. Meeting members can send real-time messages to each for collaboration in an intuitive user interface. 

A team-messaging app, Slack has many useful features that include its groups and channels features. You can also video call your meeting members via Slack for quick chats. Slack integrates with a horde of beneficial business platforms.

One of its newest integrations includes the Zoom app. You can use Slack to manage your Zoom meetings or make calls through the popular meeting platform. As an illustration, the meeting leader can launch a Zoom meeting from the Slack interface.

On Slack, all meeting participants will view all meeting details, including the call’s participants. Zoom-Slack integration will enhance problem solving and decision-making. Slack has smart calendar integrations with the Google and Outlook calendars.


4. HubSpot

Hubspot

Time management and scheduling are very important skills in today’s high-stress environments. People have tons of deadlines and tasks to complete. They have to handle their core jobs and prioritize time for meetings.

They also have health, family, and other social issues to deal with. HubSpot’s meeting scheduling application is free and makes quick work of the time-consuming coordination process. Using the HubSpot CRM, you can set up a personalized meeting-booking link. Share it via email.

The link will act as an invitation and scheduler, highlighting the most suitable meeting time. Meeting members will then notify you of their availability via this link. The HubSpot CRM integrates with a wide range of useful business tools.

Of critical importance to its meeting, scheduling functions are its Office 365 and Google Calendar integrations. Consequently, you can use this 100% free tool to build contact records that you can track.


5. Arrangr

Arrangr

Arrangr is a top-notch meeting assistant tool with “intelligent” scheduling features. It has an Intelligent Spot Finder that analyzes ratings, reviews, distances, and pictures. It uses this data to suggest the perfect meeting spot.

Arrangr will also share half waypoint ideas with all meeting members to ensure convenience. This app has a flexible invite feature that sends a variety of meeting times and dates to members for choice. It also allows all members to notify each other of their online conference call or video platforms.

When the best meeting times are set, Arrangr will release the leftover slots. Some of its turnkey features include the creation of automatic meeting pins and numbers and video call links. This meeting assistant tool integrates with iCloud, Google, and Office calendar applications.


Conclusion

Meetings are at the heart of creativity and problem-solving. Productive meetings can positively affect your bottom line and enhance your company’s culture. Use the five meeting assistant apps above to schedule and manage your meetings today.

How To Take Better Meeting Notes From An Online Meeting

meeting notes

Have you ever thought to yourself while in a meeting, “I’ll jot down the meeting notes when I get to my desk.” At that moment, you probably thought that you were going to retain all the content discussed in the meeting. But, later, you may have been surprised to realize just how much information passed you by.

This is quite normal because in a typical workday, you are probably juggling a lot of activities and deadlines, including meetings. For this reason, it is possible to attend a meeting, sit through it and yet not retain important details.

If this sounds like something you have gone through before, we have some tips for you. In this article, we’ll show you how note-taking doesn’t have to be this arduous task that you have to dread. We will also show you how with Aira, you don’t have to put off note taking till later.

Before we begin, let’s define meeting notes.

What are meeting notes?

People usually confuse meetings and meeting notes; one is often taken for the other. While both meeting notes and minutes are somewhat the same, meeting notes serve as a quick summary of ideas discussed during a meeting. Meeting notes are also informal.

Meeting notes are important when you want to record information in a way that you will understand, or that is unique to you. some people also take notes as part of their creative process.

Minutes on the other hand, are structured, formal records of a meeting, and their job is to note down:

  • Meeting attendance (present and absent)
  • Meeting start and end times
  • Broad topics discussed
  • Decisions arrived at during a meeting

How can you take better meeting notes during an online meeting?

Even though meeting notes are formal, following a structure when writing them is important for future recall. The last thing you want is a scrap pad filled with cluttered meeting notes that you cannot make head or tail of.

Great meeting notes should be simple and have the following qualities:

  • Provide context
  • Have relevant details
  • Be legible, whether expressed in full sentences or shorthand 
  • Have ideas that flow logically into each other 

What details should you include in your meeting notes?

For your online meeting notes to be exhaustive and complete, they should include the following details

  • Main discussion points. A lot is said during a meeting, but not all of it is worth noting down. Therefore, to avoid ending up with copious amounts of notes, first, note down important points. Second, expound on those points in a few sentences.  
  • Action items. What is the task? To whom is it assigned? What is the deadline for completing the task?
  • Questions. Write down any points you want to clarify and ask them during the Q&A session.
  • Follow ups and ideas. Ideas may start coming up during a meeting. Such ideas may be the beginning of new projects therefore it’s important to write them down.

Manual and automated note taking  

There are two ways to take manual notes:

  • Manually, either by writing or typing
  • Automated note taking

Manual note taking: Laptop vs pen and paper

Some people prefer to write down their notes while others prefer to use a laptop. There are downsides and upsides to each method.

Research shows that people tend to type verbatim. The upside of typing however, is that organizing and editing points is a lot easier. When using a pen, you will note down the main points. The downside of course is that if you need to send out the notes to people, you have to type them out later.

Therefore, what it comes down to when deciding whether to write down notes using pen and paper or to type them out on your laptop, is preference.

How to take better meeting notes manually

Manual note taking requires skill. If you don’t have those skills, you will fall behind during the meeting and important information to pass you by.

Here’s how to take manual notes easily:

Use shorthand

Shorthand is a writing system that is mostly used by administrative assistants who normally need to type a lot of notes throughout their day. It is a good system to use if you already possess the skill. If you don’t, you first have to learn how to do shorthand scribbles before you start using it.

Codify

Another way to keep up the pace when taking meeting notes manually is to codify some parts. For instance:

  • Use abbreviations. For example, use “max”, instead of maximum
  • Use an asterisk * to mark important points
  • Use an exclamation mark (!) to note urgent items

Automated meeting note taking

Automating the note taking process can make work easier for you. There are many tools for automating note taking, and all of them have different capabilities.

One of the reasons why we favor Aira is because of its audio recording capability. Not only does Aira’s audio recordings ensure that nothing is missed, the meeting app notes down keywords, making it easier to pick out important details that were discussed in a meeting. 

What’s more, you don’t need to jot down the notes yourself because you can print the transcript from the meeting and circle or underline whatever you need to refer to.

  • The notes are organized and clutter free
  • The app provides context for the meeting notes

Conclusion

Online meetings happen between people who cannot be in the same room or location. If you are then stuck taking notes, it’s possible to appear aloof or even rude to other participants. Not to mention, internet lag time can make it almost impossible to follow and take notes at the same time. Thankfully, with a meeting note app such as Aira, you can reduce the hustle of note taking and improve note accuracy while conducting online meetings.

Image credits: Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

10 Tips For Having A Successful Web Conferencing

web conferencing

If, prior to this year, you conducted majority of your meetings face-to-face, you have no doubt had to adjust to the new reality of web conferencing. One thing you may have realized is that you need to put the same amount of preparation in your online meetings just as you would your face to face meetings.

Because of the technical aspects involved and the fact that meeting participants are sitting in different places, web conferencing probably takes more preparation. Some aspects of it are challenging. For instance:  

  • Technology fails, e.g sound and video
  • Lack of a technical team
  • Poor turnout, as people adjust to online meetings

But if there’s one thing we can learn from one group of scientists who previously conducted their research presentations offline, it’s that these challenges shouldn’t stifle you.

The scientists have found great success with online conferencing, with some even saying that “it offers a better experience” than offline conferences. All it takes is preparation and an AI tool like Aira to facilitate the technical side. 

In this article, we will discuss tips for successful web conferencing. What can you do to prepare for a seamless online meeting? Read on for more.

1. Start with an agenda

Are you guilty of sending a meeting invite that only includes the meeting subject, time of the meeting and date? If yes, you are wasting a key opportunity to communicate vital information with your audience.

  • A meeting invite that has an agenda will ignite more interest in the recipients
  • Recipients can also go through the agenda and decide from the get-go whether the meeting is important to them or not
  • People can prepare based on agenda items, thus making your meetings more engaging and successful

2. Work on audio quality

Audio is the most important aspect of web conferencing. Without audio, people cannot hear each other. In the process, important information is missed. This then leads to frustration, loss of interest and eventually, people jump off the call. As such:

  • Test audio quality ahead of time and ask participants to do so as well

  • If your internet connection tends to be slow, work on a backup internet connection in advance
  • Have your phone as a backup in case all else fails

3. Prepare for video

Prepare for video
Prepare for video

You probably don’t observe a very strict dress code when working from home. Do you work in a t-shirt and jeans, or worse, pajamas?

This might be okay if you are not going to interact with your workmates. However, you may not want to turn up for a conference call in your pajamas. Web conferencing almost always involves video. Therefore, be prepared and dress the part.

4. Turn up early for your meeting

Since you are hosting the meeting, you must log in early for the following reasons:

  • Turning up early for your meetings sets a high punctuality standard. By the way, punctuality is a great way to stand out as a future leader in your company
  • In case of any technical problems, you can catch and troubleshoot them early 
  • You will brush up on your meeting preparation by zeroing in on the agenda items a bit more

5. Choose a tool with high-end features

Your web conferencing tool should enhance your meeting experience, not merely give you an audio and video platform.

You and your team are busy professionals, and all probably have steep targets. The last thing you want therefore, is to be deal with additional meeting-related tasks.

As much as meetings are important for conducting business, meeting-related tasks can consume a lot of your time. Therefore, your meeting tool of choice should ease those tasks.

Take AIRA, for example. It is a smart meeting tool that has these powerful features:  

  • It records and stores meetings notes and thereafter disseminates them
  • It can recognize human speech and its nuances, hence all recordings are highly accurate
  • It uses keyword recognition, which makes searching through meeting notes a lot easier  

Another great benefit of Aira is that if you or any of the other participants are travelling or cannot access their desktop, they can log in on their phones, or have Aira attend the meeting on their behalf.

6. Prepare: Research and internalize your content

If you don’t prepare, you will end up reading every word from your slides. This is why you shouldn’t read from your slides:

  • You will appear ill-prepared for your meeting, in which case, why should anyone else be prepared?
  • You will also come off as though you aren’t an expert in your subject matter
  • There will likely be reduced level of engagement when all you are doing is reading in prose form

7. Do a “temperature check” during the meeting

informal talk with meeting attendees
informal talk with meeting attendees

When web conferencing, it’s important to “go around the table” after some time has elapsed, just to be sure that you still have everyone’s attention. You can, for instance, ask a question and then get answers from each person.  You can also randomly ask for opinions on different areas from team members.

8. Tick off agenda items

Conversations are likely to digress during your web conference. As such, you could end up losing track of the meeting agenda items. Therefore, as you go along, tick off agenda items. Recap that item as you do so, so that people know that you are moving on

Ticking off items:

  • Redirects attention back to the meeting items. If for some reason someone wasn’t paying attention, they are likely to listen very closely to subsequent agenda items.
  • Helps to manage meeting time. You don’t want a meeting that prolongs unnecessarily because of interruptions.

That said, Aira can help you minimize participant interruption, keeping your meetings more focused and productive.

9. Send meeting notes and action items

Remember how we said above that Aira takes meeting notes for you? Well, that includes action items. More so, if you have enabled the right settings, Aira can automatically email notes and action items after every meeting, saving you from having to do so.

10. Follow up

Keep the momentum around the discussed topic alive by following up with meeting participants after the meeting. Individual follow up is always advisable as this way:

  • You can build a sense of urgency if an action item isn’t completed and yet you are too close to deadline
  • You can get a feel of any challenges that individuals have, and put measures in place to assist them

Conclusion

Web conferencing is now an inevitable part of our lives. As you plan your next meeting, take note of the 10 tips discussed above and implement them for greater success.

Image Credits: www.freepik.com, unsplash.com

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