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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 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

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 Aira Help With Business Internal Communications Problems

internal communications

Effective internal communications. This is the one thing that any company needs to thrive and succeed. For teams to work well together, effective and clear communication needs to happen from the top down, from the bottom up, and horizontally. However, clear and concise communication isn’t always possible. Often, information flow can be interrupted for reasons as varied as:

  • Assuming that everyone knows what is going on within the company. For example, the marketing team might assume that just because an advert is running in the public media, everyone in the company is well informed about it.
  • Misinterpretation of messages. This can result from second-hand information, language barriers, loss attention during meetings, or apprehension about seeking clarity. If employees act on bad information, this could cost your company its reputation, customers, and money. You can easily prevent this from happening with an AI meeting tool like Aira.
  • Lack of team cohesion. This is often the case with teams that work in silos. For example, the sales process should involve marketing, sales and customer service teams. But, if none of these teams have visibility in what the other does, this can lead to communication breakdown.

If not checked, lack of proper internal communication can result in:

  • Employee resentment, with individuals feeling no compulsion to “go the extra mile”
  • Lack of team coordination, which in turn leads to
  • Duplication of responsibilities and tasks
  • Teams and individuals can be left out of important processes and projects
  • Burn out
  • Wastage of company resources
  • Poor company image
  • Loss of customers
  • Loss of revenue because of missed opportunities

Video: How AIRA Takes Care Of Your Business Internal Communications (Part 1-4)


How can you use AIRA to improve internal communications?

Improve your online meetings through better record keeping

Majority of internal communication in most companies is now being done online. This also includes other meeting management tasks such as organizing meetings, setting timelines for completion of different tasks, and sending minutes of meetings.

Given this, how can you track notes and action items for each, and every meeting held online?

The answer is simple: AIRA.

AIRA is an AI based assistant that

  • Makes employees’ lives simpler
  • Improves your selling process and actually results in more sales
  • Makes customer handling easier

AIRA does this by solving common communication problems that a company faces. Anyone who is present in a meeting can benefit in the following ways:

  • Track just about any meeting on your list
  • Click on notes and you would know what the meeting was all about
  • AIRA keeps a record of all online meetings and you can access them with just one click

Handling customer requirements

Every customer is unique and expects customized solutions to cater to their needs. To guarantee they get the most value for money, customers often revise their set of requirements. This can pose a challenge to a business analyst, especially one who is handling a large customer data base.  

Business analysts need to keep track of every customers’ needs without making mistakes with every revision.

AIRA makes this possible, as it allows you to easily track, through voice recordings or transcripts, all the requirements and changes that a customer has asked for. This will help you meet your customers’ requirements and consequently, keep your customers delighted. Company directors and product leaders will also find AIRA quite useful for this reason.

Product planning

Product managers, developers and executives need to ensure that teams pursue the company’s vision by:

  • Reaching goals
  • Executing on projects
  • Conducting smart evaluations of processes and products

Product managers for instance, need systematic records to make plans and fix accountabilities for execution. Without such records, tracking progress can pose a huge challenge.

How can managers use Aira to keep track of every task and make their team members accountable?

  • The AI based assistant keeps transcripts of meetings. This provides a reference point for all project meetings
  • The action item lists within Aira help product leaders, developers/executives to keep track of progress made by each individual

 

Sharing meeting notes

With online meetings becoming the new normal, it’s posing a huge challenge to individuals who might need to attend multiple meetings. Some meetings might even happen simultaneously, making it nearly impossible for you to attend all of them.

How then, can get the outcome of meetings, without attending them?

Use AIRA for one click sharing of notes/summary while keeping everyone updated, so that no one misses on important decisions or plans made during the meeting.


Conclusion

Most companies don’t usually think of a internal communications budget. Yet taking steps to improve internal communication is key to improving team performance and boosting revenue growth. A study by Towers Watson found that companies that take steps to improve internal communication experience 47% higher shareholder returns. So, ask yourself:

Do you want to build strong and productive bonds with your employees?

Do you want your employees to be comfortable expressing ideas that will help build your business?

Do you want fulfilled customers who aren’t just happy to do business with you but also refer you to others?

If yes, then start by improving your internal communications processes. Communication within your workplace will build more teamwork, create transparency and lead to better collaboration. But you cannot achieve such level of efficiency manually.

Try out AIRA.

10 Traits Of Best AI Meeting Assistant Explained

best ai meeting assistant

The age of the super AI assistants is here. Perceptive business owners are leveraging the power of artificial intelligence to solve professional challenges. Machine learning mechanisms now monitor service quality and augment automation decisions. In medicine, they are augmenting medical diagnoses while in manufacturing they replicate designs.

The average office dweller is also enjoying the magic of AI development. They are not only benefitting from top-notch and personalized email management, but AI meeting assistants as well. For this reason enterprise, adoption of AI tools has grown by 270% in less than four years as per Gartner data.

AI virtual tools are lessening, meeting frustration for employees, interpreting, recording, and transcribing speech. They are the perfect meeting minute takers. Some of the traits of the best ai meeting assistant includes:

1. Meeting scheduling

aira ai meeting assistant

One of the best traits of a virtual meeting assistant platform like Aira is her meeting scheduling capability. Aira will record, transcribe, and analyze your meetings. This fantastic AI-powered technology will also automate your business’s meeting scheduling on your behalf. Her machine learning and artificial intelligence capability will analyze your workers’ productivity patterns for nuances of timing preferences.

In doing so, she can distribute events effectively. Her meeting scheduling action will have a minimal impact on your team’s deep work. Aira saves your employees from minute taking and distribution woes. She informs all stakeholders of the meeting event too.

2. Automatic time monitoring

AI tools are proficient at automatic time tracking. This trait of AI meeting assistant technology captures your employees’ time data into timesheets. This characteristic creates a culture of honest hours at work. As a result, your meetings will be more productive as employees review time use on the AI tool’s interface. The best platforms offer an interruption and timer free time tracking feature. This way, meetings remain distraction-free.

3. Meeting documentation

AI meeting assistants have speech recognition features that process all information during meetings. They will register all decisions and actions and highlight every speaker’s core duties. Afterward, the tool will store all meeting notes centrally for sharing and follow-up purposes.

4. Company data sharing

Meeting preparation takes up a massive amount of office time from the meeting’s organizer. They will need to dig up company documents, artifacts, past minutes, reports, or old emails. This groundwork makes meetings a success.

These AI platforms can manage files across different work frameworks during this preparatory stage. All knowledge will be within reach, saving up time and employee time.

5. Meeting analytics

Rapid improvements in AI technology have led to the creation of analytics-driven tools that detect patterns in data. Using machine-learning algorithms, they can observe user behavior and adapt to it. Consequently, this technology has become key in optimizing industrial operations. AI virtual assistants can analyze your meetings and suggest optimization improvements to enhance productivity.

6. Contract analysis

Business contracts can be intimidating. Fortunately, intelligent meeting assistant tools can analyze the legal jargon on your behalf. This action will help identify risks, requirements, and opportunities.

7. Email management

Do you know that the average cube dweller receives 121 emails each day? These missives convey event invitations, content, or deals messages. To gauge just how important all this mail is, click on them and study the content. Popping email notifications can be an enormous distraction in the workplace.

With them constantly vying for your employees’ attention, they will have a harder time accomplishing their tasks. Worse is that, once they drive your mind to distraction, it will take close to 23 minutes to get back on track. An AI assistant platform can manage your inbox.

It will study your preferences and patterns, then offer personalized help on your email flow. This will kill email hyperresponsiveness. This phenomenon chops down office hours into little slots of productive time because of distractions.

8. Expense and payment auditing

Finance teams can leverage AI meeting assistants to audit invoices. They can also use them to analyze expenses before initiating payments. This will cut down on team spending and optimize their processes. Since intelligent platforms integrate with other back-office technology, they will not disrupt the existing processes.

9. HR processes

Intelligent platforms can analyze millions of job postings and zero in on suitable matches. They will serve you with the best match for your workplace. They can also re-target older applicants and schedule meetings.

10. Meeting room experience enhancement

Beyond highlighting action items, the AI tool can also increase meeting effectiveness. As an illustration, some platforms have a background replacement feature. Others can suppress background noise and offer real-time meeting transcription.

Conclusion

The ultimate luxury in business is an assistant at hand who anticipates your needs. They will take action on your behalf where necessary and listen for your calls. The AI meeting assistant is a perfect, affordable, all rounded, and more efficient personal assistant.

These platforms can perform a variety of functions and can be omnipresent in every corner of your business. The useful traits of the best AI meeting assistant will enhance your bottom-line and increase productivity amongst all your teams.

10 Productivity Software You Should Start Using Now

productivity software

How do you know you are being productive? Is it:

  • When you are getting work done?
  • When your life is organized?
  • When meetings and other collaborative projects are progressing without a hitch?

If you identify with any of the above, you know that Productivity is not a concept unique to the workplace but is also important to aspects of your personal life.

In this article, we will look at 10 productivity software that will help you to become more productive in your work and personal life. these apps will help you do the following:

  • Create better workflows
  • Work smarter by e. g, automating repetitive tasks
  • Become more organized by for example managing your inbox
  • Hold efficient meetings. Example, by automating note taking and minute taking with AIRA
  • Achieve your goals: for example
  • Time savings
  • Finish your project in time
  • Perform better at work so that you can get promoted
  • Eliminate distractions
  • Improve work output, e.g, revenue

Read on below to learn about tools you can use to start being productive starting now.

10 Productivity Software to Try Out:

1. Dragon Naturally Speaking

dragon

Dictating can sometimes be easier than typing, especially if you’ve been working at your desk endlessly. The longer you type, the more your speed dwindles, your accuracy goes down, you become fidgety and eventually lose focus. Thankfully, Dragon naturally speaking allows you to switch to your new tempo of work by dictating to your device. This ensures you can keep working instead of abandoning your project because of fatigue.

The different editions that the software comes in make it an ideal tool for working on topics from practically any industry. For instance, the dragon home is ideal for dictating general content. There’s also dragon legal, dragon law enforcement, among others.

At $150, dragon naturally speaking maybe a little on the costly side, but it really is value for money, considering it’s very accurate.

Price

Dragon Home: $150

Other editions: Contact Nuance team

2. AIRA

Business cannot be conducted without meetings. A lot of times though, meetings can waste time if:

  • They take too long
  • Minute and note taking are done manually
  • They are disorderly
  • Agenda items are not clear
  • They are irrelevant to attendees

That is where Aira comes in. Aira is an ai meeting assistant that creates efficiency in meetings by automating:

  • Minute taking
  • Meeting scheduling (including checking for meeting overlaps)
  • Following up on action items
  • Document sharing and storage

Aira analytics tracks meeting performance. In addition, the keywords feature helps attendees and other team members to scan through meeting notes quicker and find what is relevant to them.

Pricingcontact team Aira

3. Evernote

evernote

Note-taking is an essential part of most professionals’ and students’ lives. That’s why Evernote makes this list. Whatever the nature of your project, you can use Evernote to

  • Jot down ideas
  • Curate content during the research phase of your work

Evernote records written audio or image content. You can also sketch with the app or upload PDFs. The app not only searches your saved content by word, but also by image. This means that any search will return the corresponding text and image content that you have saved. With the paid subscriptions, you can also search PDFs.

Although Evernote is mostly for boosting personal productivity, you can also use it to collaborate on projects that involve note sharing and editing.

Pricing

Basic: Free

Premium: $7.99/month

Business: $14.99/user/month

4. IFTTT

ifttt

There are simply too many things going on in our daily work and personal lives, that you cannot keep track of all of them. But, fear not, because IFTTT (If this, then that), can automatically update you whenever things that you’re interested in, happen, either online, or locally on your devices.

For instance, if you need to keep track of brand activities on Facebook, you can tell IFTTT “if someone mentions my brand online, then email me their comments. “

Although you may consider some tasks as mundane, they still contribute to your overall success. IFTTT is really good at handling mundane tasks. For instance, sending meeting reminders is a time consuming, mundane task. But attending meetings is important. So, let IFTTT handle your reminders while you do other productive work.

PricingContact the sales team

5. Sane Box

sane box

Email organization is a key part of productivity. It’s quite likely that most of the emails you receive aren’t all-important. Even if they are, they aren’t all high priority. That’s where the Sane Box comes in. Sane box organizes your mailbox by automatically moving unimportant emails from your inbox into new folders.

Sane box decides on email importance levels in the following ways:

  • All emails from contacts that aren’t in your address book are treated as cold calls
  • It learns. You have to give sane box feedback so that in future, it knows how to treat the emails you receive

If you usually get lots of emails daily, this is one app to try out.

Pricing

Snack: $59/year

Lunch: $99/year

Dinner: $299/year

6. Strict Workflow

strict workflow

Focus (or lack of it), is a key issue for most people. A lot of people out there (perhaps including you) cannot work on a project for extended periods of time. For some, this focus period can be as short as a few minutes. That is why the Pomodoro technique was invented. So that for 25 minutes, you can focus on nothing, but work, and you only get to rest for a few minutes once your 25 minutes are up.

Strict workflow enforces the Pomodoro technique. Say you need to work on your project for 4 hours, what you do is divide that time into 25-minute sessions. This increases productivity because it’s a reward-based system. That is, work then claim your reward.

The strict workflow works as a browser plugin.

PricingFree

7. X1 Search

x1

Some people are tidy. They know their files and folders by name date and number (okay, maybe a bit of an exaggeration there), but you get the point. Some people can find everything on their laptop quite easily.

But, if you struggle with the personal organization on your computer, you might need a tool like X1 Search. It’s a tool that finds files in your document folders, archives, mailboxes, calendars, SharePoint.

Although in the end, we’d recommend a tool that helps you tidy up your desktop, in the meantime, use X1 search to easily navigate through your messy storage system.

Pricing

Free: 14 day trial period

Single user: $96/license

Enterprise: Contact the team

8. G Suite for business

GSuite

It’s not always possible to be at your desk working on your desktop. But you’ll always have your phone on you. That’s why G Suite is every android phone owner’s dream come true. Whether you’re on your commute, on a business trip or just relaxing on the couch, you can use G Suite to continue working on your projects.

Some important features in G Suite include:

  • Video and audio conferencing
  • Gmail
  • Collaborative tools including Google sheets and Google docs
  • Shared calendars
  • Autosave and auto-sync

G Suite pricing starts at $6/person monthly. But if you are on the move a lot, it is well worth your while because your teams don’t need to be grounded when not in the office.

Pricing

Basic: $6/user/month

Business: $12/user/month

Enterprise: $25/user/month

9. Prezi

Prezi

A lot of professionals often have to put on elaborate presentations for their customers, but they don’t like the process of putting together a slide deck.

  • For one, standard presentations take too long to complete
  • In addition, a standard slide deck just doesn’t capture ideas so well because the formats just don’t seem to fit

If you have the same problem, you should give Prezi a go.

With Prezi, you can work on your projects on a digital whiteboard. Then, you film the content on the board and record a film of that content. You can also choose from a wide variety of templates to suit your presentation requirements.

Pricing

Free: 14-day trial

Standard: $5/month

Plus: $15/month

Premium: $59/month

10. Apple iWork

iWork

iWork is to Mac OS users what Gsuite is to Android users. The app allows anyone with an iPad or iPhone to keep working on the go. iWork does that with the following features:

  • A document editor
  • A spreadsheet tool
  • For creating presentations

PriceiWork is free and can work as an app on your iPhone. If you have an iCloud account, you can also use the web app for free.

Conclusion

These tools are just a small percentage of all the productivity tools available online. We encourage you to try them out to address any personal and work productivity issues you may have. Most of them have a trial period, so, make use of that to get better acquainted with the apps before paying.

11 Secrets To A Successful Sales Meeting Unleashed

successful sales meeting

Do you run a productive and successful sales meeting everytime? If your answer is yes, then congratulations! You are one of the few sales professionals who have honed and mastered a skill crucial to selling effectively.

In most organizations, sales meetings waste a salesperson’s time and quite frankly, deliver very little value. While we appreciate that sales teams need to dedicate some of their time to meet their managers, if those meetings aren’t helping the bottom line, they are a waste of time.

A meeting that wastes a salesperson’s time is more likely to demotivate that person. On the other hand, if your sales meetings can deliver value, you will increase your team’s productivity. This is where meeting tools come in. A meeting tool like Aira has built-in analytics, from which you can draw insights into meeting performance. This article, however, is not about meeting tools, but simple behavioral adjustments that once implemented will shape how your salespeople view sales meetings. More on that below.


The secrets of running a successful sales meeting

1.     Limit your meeting to one agenda item

You can cover many issues in a meeting agenda. But time is money for salespeople so instead of addressing multiple issues, focus one crucial agenda item. Discussions centered around one area has several advantages:

  • You can dig deep into that issue or topic, and understand it
  • That item becomes the metric that matters for that week
  • Your team will remain focused on the subject discussed

2.     Send out the meeting agenda way before the meeting date

Do you want your salespeople to be well prepared for your meetings? If yes, make use of your AI meeting assistant to send out the agenda well ahead of time. Make your agenda items actionable.

3.     Keep time

keep time

Do you want your team to respect your meetings? Do you want to create a sense of urgency throughout the workweek? Then lead by example by sticking to your meeting timelines. Keep time, and you give your salespeople a template of how they should handle their customers’ time.

We also mentioned earlier that time is money. Keeping time tells your salespeople that you value their time.

4.     Keep your meetings to under one hour

Another important aspect of time is meeting length. 36% of meeting attendants lose attention when attending any meeting that lasts more than 45 minutes. So, to make the most out of your meeting session,

5.     Make meetings relevant and pertinent

People tend to drift during a meeting if they notice that the meeting items don’t concern them.

Let’s assume you have 4 salespeople, each representing a region. If you want to have productive discussions with them, schedule a meeting with each one. This might seem redundant but look at it this way: whenever someone is giving an update on their region, the other three are likely to check out of the meeting because that region does not affect their performance.

In addition, if there’s an issue that has to do with one person, follow up with that person after the meeting.

6.     Encourage discussion

Your salespeople, not you, are the ones facing customers. They are also the ones who have to deal with challenges in the field. So, they want you to hear them as much as you want them to listen to you.

Turn your meeting into a forum for discussion, where issues are tabled, discussed and action taken immediately.

7.     Updates do not warrant a meeting

We cannot stress this enough: meetings centered around updates have little to no value to a salesperson. Some things can be addressed on email. Learn to identify such matters so that you don’t hold unnecessary meetings.

8.     Recognize and reward performance

recognize and reward

There is nothing more motivating for a salesperson (besides the commissions of course), than recognition. Therefore, whenever you hold a meeting, recognize, congratulate and reward your top performers. The following happens when you reward salespeople regularly:

  • You set the pace for your salespeople every week. Everyone will try to hit their targets so that they can shine during the next meeting
  • The end result is that you are more likely to hit your monthly target by remaining focused week on week
  • Your meetings become something that salespeople look forward to attending

9.     Turn meetings into a performance improvement platform

As you hold more meetings, you will start to notice performance trends. Some of those trends may indicate areas that need improvement.

You don’t need to wait for your next training workshop to address key performance issues. Instead, use your sales meetings to deliver bite-sized training sessions that will help your teams to start changing their results immediately.

10.  Make your sales team feel like a part of the company

Since majority of salespeople spend most of their time in the field, one of the times they get to interact with the company is during meetings. Take it upon yourself to give them a positive experience during these rare moments. They should feel like insiders and know that their contribution is not only appreciated, but also shapes growth. In a word, offer motivation.

There are several ways to do this. For instance, have the company head attend a meeting and reward individuals by name. Or, do something as simple as offering refreshments during meetings.

11.  Agree on next steps

You expect your salespeople to leave their customers with clarity on what the next steps will be, right? The same should go for meetings. After every meeting, each person’s responsibility should be very clear. Send meeting notes and action items Immediately after the meeting. You can do this very easily with AIRA.


Conclusion

Yes, improving your sales meetings is as simple as implementing all or some of these 11 points. As you implement these tips,

  • Ask your team for feedback. A simple question like this will suffice, “Hey, how do you think today’s meeting went and what can we do to improve the next meeting?”
  • Use AIRA analytics to track meeting performance trends

That’s it! Happy meeting!

How to Extract Meeting Minutes from Your Zoom Meetings with AIRA

extract zoom meeting minutes

The whole world seems to be on a Zoom meeting at the moment. The popular video conferencing app has now racked up a 300 million daily meeting participant volume. This massive amount of users throng the app for its awesome features.

The rise of Zoom has even sparked off an internet troll phenomenon known as Zoombombing. Zoombombers prowl the highways and byways of public Zoom meetings, bombing meeting participants with inappropriate content.

The cloud-based video conferencing tool is very popular with small, large, and medium-sized businesses. On it, users can have a continuity of their daily workflows and keep in touch. All of Zoom’s amazing features are designed for the business meeting.

Through them, work from home employees can have one-on-one meetings on the app’s free plan or host large meetings with 500 participants on paid plans.

Users can also screen share for collaboration and record all Zoom calls as video. It is, therefore, quite unfortunate that most of the app’s users have to use old paper and pen to jot down Zoom meeting notes.

The savvy meeting leader can, however, use AI meeting assistant technology tools like Aira instead. Aira is powered by artificial intelligence technology and can automatically join your meetings, transcribe them, take meeting notes, and share with all meeting participants at the end of the meeting.


 

Why should extract Zoom meeting minutes with Aira?

extract meeting minutes with aira

Some Zoom meeting leaders do try to take down notes from their laptops or computers while on Zoom meetings. If you have tried this process, you know how arduous a task it is, if you must have your camera on during the meeting.

If your meeting guidelines, however, allow cameras to stay off during the meeting (which is quite rare), you can switch off your laptop’s camera, listen in and type in your notes. Just juggle between listening in, staying engaged, and contributing to the meeting’s deliberations. This is not an easy task, and you will often lose your concentration and become less productive during the meeting.

Some other minute writing option procedures during Zoom meetings include;

  1. Opening a Zoom window and utilizing a note-taking app on the other side of your screen for minute taking. With both apps open at the same time, you can quickly click back and forth between each app as you listen take your notes. You, however, will have the disadvantage of a half-sized Zoom window.
  2. Have access to two monitors and connect them to your computer. Use one monitor to run your Zoom meeting interface. And use the other for your minute taking app. You can also use your tablet, phone, or laptop screens to set this configuration up. Use one screen for the video conferencing app and use the other for minute taking
  3. Learn your keyboard commands and use them to switch between your Zoom app and minute taking window. This option will keep your Zoom app full screen.

These methods might get the job done, but you will have to face the meeting minute taking challenges of a lack of concentration and fatigue.

You will also have to keep fighting off the urge to record every word verbatim and simply summarize the key facts. Meetings do not always follow the agenda and topics, and side issues will often come in distracting the minute-taking process.


 

How to extract your meeting’s notes with Aira?

Aira

Aira, the voice AI platform, is the best Zoom meeting minute taking alternative. She will not only take minutes but will save them on one location for ease of access.

Aira is such a perfect meeting assistant that she can attend your meeting and take notes on your behalf when you are held up elsewhere. She is the perfect complementary tool for Zoom’s recorded video function.

If you have a paid Zoom account and Aira, you can sync all your Zoom cloud recordings into Aira. With this, you’ll get automatic extraction of meeting notes through her robust AI voice transcription feature. Zoom Pro, Business, and Enterprise allow meeting leaders to record their calls as videos.

The meeting host can also enable video recordings of meetings by other members in settings so that anyone can record a Zoom meeting.

All videos will either be saved locally or on the cloud in an MP4 video file format. Aira will transcribe the meeting using her Zoom Synch feature. All that you need to do is to set up Aira’s automatic transcription feature before the meeting starts. Simply;

  1. Pre-approve Aira in Zoom marketplace
  2. Allow live streaming in Zoom
  3. Connect Aira to Zoom

 

Conclusion

Taking meeting minutes the old school way on Zoom can be a challenge. Use Aira’s proficient voice transcription feature to take extract minutes automatically from Zoom meetings and recordings.

10 Tips to Run Great Virtual Meetings

virtual meetings

Virtual meetings are becoming more acceptable. Ever since countries started locking down their borders due to the threat of covid19, companies have had to embrace the idea of conducting their operations digitally. Virtual meetings are now the order of the day, and we have many innovative tools rising to meet this demand. Whether you want to hold a team meeting, pitch a customer, conduct a demo, host a training session, or even run an industry conference, an AI-led tool like Aira is a worthwhile asset to have.

Why virtual meetings?

It is undeniable that face to face meetings introduce the human touch to doing business. Virtual meetings have been evolving towards providing the same experience, and this is evidenced by:

As such, technology is taking over the bulk of the work involved in meeting management. For instance, Aira will attend meetings for you, take meeting notes and email them. In addition, because of Aira’s integrative ability with your CRM, your meeting discussions, files, minutes and action points, become part of your entire team’s workflow.

Benefits of holding virtual meetings include:

  • Virtual meetings are inexpensive because they eliminate the cost of travel
  • You save time and energy whenever you hold your meetings virtually because you don’t need to go anywhere. Time spent on the road or up in the air, is then allocated to activities that have more strategic importance.
  • There is also the added comfort of a virtual meeting; you can hold one from anywhere. In other words, when you go virtual, you give your team the freedom to work from anywhere.

 


How can you run a great virtual meeting?

great virtual meetings

Running a successful virtual meeting requires some preparation before, during and after the meeting.

Before the-meeting

1.      Ensure video works

When choosing your conferencing tools, ensure you get one that offers an excellent video experience. Video increases engagement and interaction because participants can observe each other’s responses to discussions. Video also tells you when people start to lose attention. You can then respond appropriately, by for instance calling for a break.

2.      Send the meeting agenda in advance

This gives your team time to process what the meeting will mean to them. Participants will also:

  • Think ahead
  • Come up with ideas

Note: Before you send a meeting agenda, you need to choose a date that guarantees maximum attendance. As much as a tool like Aira can attend a meeting and send minutes of meeting when a participant is absent, having everyone “present” creates more engagement.

3.      Set the meeting tone

Do you want people to respect your meetings and take them seriously? Then set the tone. An agenda is one way to do it, but also drumming up support for key areas of discussion helps people anticipate real value coming out of the meeting.

4.      Minimize the number of meetings you hold

A great thing about sending out agenda items is that they help you gauge whether you even need a meeting in the first place. When your team and clients see the meeting agenda, they will comment and based on those comments, you can take the requisite actions.

There is no need to hold meetings if the team doesn’t agree that the issues being discussed do not hold any business value.

5.      Do your homework

A day after sending out the agenda, reach out to individual members to get their opinions. Build on that opinion or use it to bolster your own point of view. When you obtain information in advance,

  • You “sit” with that information and find the interconnectedness in opinions
  • You get to define where an idea starts and stops, or where offshoots of new ideas begin to crop up
  • You get a deeper understanding of team pain points, explore their impact, then craft solutions for them or start a whole new discussion around them
  • You can create a powerful presentation that will keep everyone gripped during your meeting.

Note: when you reach out to people individually, it shows that you value their opinion. This can only benefit your team.

 

During the meeting

The meeting has now started. You should have a good turnout if you prepared. So how do you now ensure that your meeting runs successfully?

6.      Let the team get comfortable with each other

If you are meeting with few participants, let them introduce themselves.

  • An introduction session is a great way to set the tone
  • Introductions also get people to talk about their pain points

7.      Encourage collaboration

You have already established the pain points or challenges from individual group members. Form your discussions around these challenges. Give team members an opportunity to brainstorm and generate ideas around those challenges.

This way:

  • Everyone in the team takes ownership of the problem and becomes excited to take part in solving it
  • It’s easier to gauge level of expertise and figure out how to apportion action points or group people into project teams

8.      Establish meeting rules

For instance:

  • Turn your phones off, and do not “check out” until the meeting is over.
  • Do not interrupt when someone is talking
  • Mind your language and have respect for all meeting attendants
  • Allow everyone’s input. Every participant should “raise their hand” and contribute their point of view

9.      Keep everyone engaged

A great way to keep people engaged during virtual meetings is to call on them and give them tasks to be conducted after the meeting, or occasionally direct questions at them. At certain times during the meetings, stop and randomly ask a member for their input.

After the meeting

10.   Send meeting notes

A great meeting tool takes meeting notes for you and thankfully, Aira does just that. After the meeting, Aira will automatically mail the action points or participants can simply log into the tool to access minutes and more.


Conclusion

It’s okay to allow people to disagree. This happens often in physical office settings, and you should also accommodate it in a virtual space. Before you end your meeting, allow people to have an informal discussion session where they express what they would do differently.

Happy meeting!

What Is The Right Way To Start A Meeting?

right way to start a meeting

Calls for a workplace meeting are often met with a level of murmuring and groaning rather than a “Heck yeah! Let’s do this!” While meetings often bring the best ideas to light, According to a study done by Verizon Conferencing, most heavy meeting goers have at one time or the other attended dysfunctional meetings.

Consequently, 90% of them admit to missing bits of the meeting or daydreaming when in a meeting due to flawed meeting behavior. At least 70% of them admit to bringing other tasks to these gatherings while 40% of them simply go off to the land of nod. Most meetings start very unsoundly, setting a wrong tone for the remainder of the event. Here’s the most right way to start a meeting:

Informing participants of the meeting’s purpose and outcome

Informing meeting participants

Circulate your meeting’s agenda to all participants beforehand via Aira. Aira is an AI meeting assistant that makes meeting notes and shares them with all meeting members. She is an artificial intelligence technology powered tool that can share your meeting’s agenda and past minutes before and after the meeting.

At the beginning of a meeting, your participants have two major concerns in their minds. They will want to understand right off the bat why they are in attendance and why they should care about the meeting’s agenda. Most guides will tell you that the best way to start your meeting is by reviewing your agenda, then heading straight to the agenda’s topics.

This process has its benefits but it will not highlight the benefits of the meeting. It will also not bring to light the reasons why they should count the meeting as of any importance to them. To capture the member’s attention from the word go, and also set your conference up for success, give them the answers to these two questions first.

With Aira by your side, you should, therefore, start your meeting by informing the associates of the purpose and the outcome that they should expect. You can, for instance, start with words such as “At the end of this meeting, you will all walk away with…” You can alternatively kick off the meeting with a “the intention of this meeting is…” Such words will get everyone on the same page and ensure that your meeting is a success.


Empower the meeting participants

empower meeting participants

When it comes down to it, most employees do not know how to behave in a meeting. Some want to look less weird and normal while others are intimidated by the thought of conversing with the person sitting across the table.

There are also lots of silly rules out there that may hinder the participant’s ability to collaborate with others and to display their value. Meetings provide fantastic opportunities for workers to show leadership and problem-solving skills. You should, therefore, start the meeting by shattering the ceiling of unnecessary interpersonal dynamics and secret corporate etiquette.

Get rid of all veiled social rules and the pressure to perform that makes the members edgy and panicky. Empower the delegates and allow them to understand the power that they have in a meeting room. Give them the authority over their contributions by ensuring that they do understand the level of engagement expected from them.

Empowered partners will be open to discussions and participation. Start your meeting by voicing an empowering statement like” you are our select team, chosen to vet our marketing process because you have a deep understanding of our strengths and weaknesses”.

A study done by MIT research says that the collective intelligence of a team is determined by the equal participation capacity of its members.


Restate your meeting’s ground rules

meeting's ground rules

Every business has as part of its cultures, directives that dictate how its meetings flow. Encouraging engagement is a great way to start a meeting, but you should state the boundaries as well. It is important however not to overdo the law setting at the commencement of your meeting.

You can incorporate this feature by picking one salient to the discourse at hand. As an illustration, you can ward off passive aggression by reinstating that all challenges should be addressed in the course of the meeting only and not before or after it. This will ensure more productivity and unity in collaboration.


Conclusion

If your powwow misses a strong start, its members will quickly get off track or zone out, so you must know the right way to start a meeting. If, you don’t want to chair a disorganized meeting avoid casting shadows by creating the wrong idea about your meeting. Begin your meeting with a positive note to foster efficiency. You can break the ice with a story, poignant quote, or interesting statistic then rope them further using one of the tactics above. Use meeting tools such as Aira to analyze your meeting data to ensure that optimization fosters high engagement.

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