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meeting minute templates

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

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!

The Top 7 Online Meetings Etiquette and Best Practices to Follow

online meetings etiquette

Online meetings have become more commonplace as more people work from home. Offices are making a transition to the virtual world making video conferencing an integral part of the business environment. The rise of virtual meetings has been a slow but steady journey. They were at first vital to disparate team meetings as employees in multiple geographic locations began to share teams.

This movement has culminated in a global movement towards video conferencing as the global pandemic bites necessitating social distancing between workmates. Consequently, video conferencing platforms like Zoom are now home to over 200 million daily meetings. In late 2019, the platform had a low 10 million meetings.

New meeting tools that enhance productivity are also more readily available online. As an illustration, meeting tools like Aira can dial into an online meeting, take meeting notes, and transcribe all dialogue. Aira is an artificial intelligence-powered bot that frees meeting members from the arduous task of writing minute notes. She ensures that every member stays focused and productive.


The growth of online meetings

Over time, video conferencing might replace conference calls as businesses embrace the cost-effective benefit of virtual meetings. 78% of businesses today are using video conferencing for team meetings, while 58% of them hold these meetings daily. The need for video collaboration software is so high that 83% of large corporations are planning to purchase online meeting software for use.

Meetings can be very valuable when productive and effective. Nevertheless, for all their benefits, the productive virtual meeting is very elusive. It is of critical importance therefore that all stakeholders embrace the connections, technology, and the mix of video and audio to ensure consistency in productivity, as business transit to the online environment.

Below are some online meetings etiquette and best practices for employees and meeting leaders that want to make their online meetings as productive as possible.


1. A meeting leader should prepare for the meeting

meeting preparation

An advantage of working from home is that you are free to wear your softest jammies all day. You can attend your Zoom meeting without having to dress up for success, which makes social isolation more bearable. Your meeting will however not meet its objectives if you do not keep its organization as professional as possible.

A meeting that lacks purpose will fall on its face very fast. The meeting leader should, therefore, send a meeting invite beforehand to all participants and attach the agenda. Describe all expectations and have your meeting tools ready. If possible, talk to a technology expert to ensure that all meeting tools are primed and ready for the meeting.


2. Make a meeting schedule and stick to it.

There are a few things as annoying as sitting in an empty virtual room waiting for participants to show. It is not surprising that despite the fact, the online meetings are extremely mobile the tardiest of employees will often have a reason to jump into the meeting room late.

The meeting organizer needs to ensure that every virtual meeting starts promptly. Do not give room to distractions, repetition of discussed items after excuses of “my dog ate my modem”. Such distractions will only inconvenience and annoy the participants that show up on time. Follow the agenda instead and catch all the latecomers up after the call.


3. Minimize distractions

Online meeting participants are easy to distract because they lack the physical and visual stimuli that keep the traditional meeting members engaged. It is crucial therefore that all distractions are kept out of the virtual meeting room. Silence all phones, mute all the mics of inactive members and close all apps that are not in use. Make sure that no member interrupts the meeting flow or the speaker.


4. Begin with introductions

Let the host announce every meeting member to ensure that all participants feel at home with each other. Introductions increase the awareness of each other’s responsibilities and roles and are key to a smooth meeting.


5. Be professional

be professional

Since virtual meetings, environments are more relaxed than traditional meetings, some members may be too casual and forward in their words or tone of voice. All participants should maintain their professional appearance and posture to prevent distractions and embarrassment.


6. Keep the meeting engaging

All employees should learn interpersonal dynamics that stimulate collaboration in the absence of face-to-face meetings. Remember that over 55% of human communication is expressed as non-verbal cues. Encourage the participants, therefore, to use file transfer or chat tools for side questions and conversations.


7. Observe privacy for security

Ensure that your online meetings only have the participant that need to attend it. Make your meeting private to avoid unwelcome visitors and other security risks.


Conclusion

Considering the online meetings etiquette, the meeting leader should wrap up the meeting effectively and use meeting tools like Aira to send out meeting notes and arrangements or the next meeting,

Get Ready To Create Automated Meeting Minutes Using A Virtual Assistant

Best Meeting Minutes

Try to imagine life without timekeeping. An impossible task, inst it? Like Mitch Albom wrote in The Timekeeper, man measures time and chimes the hour. We live by our calendars, schedule, and appointments. Time is so important that we equate it to money. If you save on time, then you will save money.

Your time equals money because work or productivity takes time. The average startup owner can find himself or herself in a time management fix when trying to balance their business’s management and operations administration needs. The small business owner is quite often the manager, marketer, human resources director, and accountant.

This entrepreneur barely has any time to breathe let alone grow in their passion. To make better use of time, young business owners need to hire assistants. Unfortunately, a dedicated full-time assistant is a luxury that few small businesses can afford.

Nevertheless, virtual assistants (VA) are available online that can help in business time management. The rise of the VA has gained traction, with countries that have high levels of English literacy like India and the Philippines forming the core of the VA industry.


Who is a virtual assistant?

Source

The virtual assistant can be human or artificial intelligence (AI) technology-based. Both the digital human and AI work in design, marketing, social media management, and other spheres of business, providing easy to access support to businesses in different niches. The VA industry is so crucial to business operations that according to Gartner Research, 25% of all digital workers will need VAs daily by 2021 up from a low of 2% in 2019.

This research shows that virtual employee assistant use is rampant in the financial, insurance, IT, and customer service sectors. Virtual AI assistants like Alexa by Amazon or MIKA from Nokia assist in the delegation of tasks, scheduling, diagnosing problems, or the performance of complex tasks. One area though that any business can apply the time-saving skills of the VA is in the writing of the best meeting minutes.

Digital minute meeting assistants can dial in into your meetings, organize, and perform minute writing tasks that enhance collaboration between meeting attendees and that save on your time as well. Virtual minute writing assistants like AIRA can also step into your meeting, record, and transcribe it to ensure that every precious point stays accessible for your business needs. 

AIRA will save you a lot of time during the pre-meeting, meeting, and post-meeting phases by scheduling meetings on your behalf. She will also inform all your members about the meeting and create specific meeting notes. She will also synchronize your meetings via Google Mail or Microsoft 365, and integrate with customer relationship management platforms like Zapier.

Besides attending all your virtual meetings, AIRA will also provide meeting analytics to help you optimize your meetings and other business processes.


How to write minutes using a virtual assistant

AIRA

A great VA is a fantastic planner. They help businesses to prepare for the unpredictable situation, reducing their client’s distress. A skilled VA will take charge of the tasks that you delegate to them to help you focus on the challenges that need your attention the most. VAs have top-notch communication and listening skills. They are great multi-taskers, mastering the art batching that minimizes repetitive switching of tasks, saves time, and improves focus. The use of VAs in the workplace does not only encourage constructive engagement but increases productivity as well.

A VA’s skills can especially shine in meetings. Like many business owners, you probably have had multiple déjà vu moments during meetings when a meeting’s agenda begins to go south. The attendees are sick of the lack of productivity in the meetings that take too long to wind up! You are perhaps on the verge of giving up on meetings (if only you could) but you cannot because meetings can help uphold and attain your business’s objectives and goals.

A skilled VA that knows how to write minutes can turn this situation around. They can help you solve some of the major problems that make your meetings unproductive and lengthy. If you are prepping for that huge, meeting and you have too much on your hand hire a fantastic virtual assistant and delegate the meeting’s responsibility to them.

The skilled VA will ensure that you have a stress-free meeting and make those painful meeting moments a thing of the past. Below are some of the challenges that hound business meetings and the writing of minutes and ways that your VA can help you to overcome them.


1. Lack of preparation

The biggest challenge that hinders productivity and engagement in meetings is a lack of preparation. There are many instances where invites are sent for attendance, but these notifications do not communicate the reason for the meeting. For this reason, most people attend meetings without a clue as to what their contribution is.

They also do not know what the agenda for discussion is. The result of such poor meeting preparation is commotion during discussions. The attendees will become bored with the inertia and time wastage. You cannot rescue an ill-prepared meeting from going up in smoke, once it has commenced. If you are the chairperson, you will lose control of the meeting and will end up looking incompetent to your employees or subordinates. 

Simon Sinek says that a leader has to help people understand how to perform certain actions by themselves and how to succeed beyond their imagination. The work of a leader, Sinek says is not to do all the work for other people.

Consequently, as a leader you should delegate some of the pre-meeting preparation work to your VA and take a supervisory role to ensure that their preparations exceed all expectations. Your virtual assistant can, for instance, perform meeting preparation tasks such as;

  • Scheduling of the meeting
  • Contacting, engaging and coordinating the meeting’s speakers
  • Making travel, catering and accommodation arrangements
  • Researching the agenda
  • Proofreading all meeting documents
  • Preparing all presentations and send out materials

These preparations will ensure that the meeting has a clear purpose. Preparation lifts the fog over the meeting and allows its attendees a glimpse into what the meeting leader, supervisor, group director, or project manager has in mind through the tabling of an agenda.

This phase helps attendees also to determine which tasks or contributions are necessary for the meeting. Your VA should, therefore, communicate the purpose and the expected outcome of the meeting articulately.

2. Too long a meeting

When attendees show up unprepared to a meeting, there will be a lot of time-wasting during the agenda discussion phase. To eliminate this challenge, your VA should ensure that all topics up for discussion have allocated time to for timekeeping purposes. The moment an important topic has been discussed, the meeting should move on to other critical matters.

All questions should be availed before the meeting starts so that answers are prepared beforehand to prevent an occurrence of extra meetings over the same agenda. One of the most important tasks that your VA should perform during meetings writing minutes and recording the meeting.  Your VA should;

  • Write minutes proficiently to ensure that they do communicate with the reader
  • Use speed writing or shorthand for speed. They should have all the abbreviations prepared beforehand
  • Use word processing or templates to categorize and archive all details and action items to save on time and enhance the organization
  • Use recording or transcribing apps to capture each detail of the meeting and upload the information to a secure storage platform as advised
  • Summarize discussions and avoid dictation
  • Listen in carefully, understand the topics to capture clear action items
  • Monitoring topics in discussion and ensuring that all topics are discussed as per schedule
  • Managing the operations of meeting tools and technology

3. Post meeting challenges

The task of a virtual assistant goes beyond preparation and minute writing. These special assistants know how to write minutes and handle other post meeting challenges. Some of their after the meeting tasks include;

  • Proofread the minutes taken and share them with the attendees via the available platforms such as email
  • Manage any other tasks assigned
  • Follow up with meeting correspondence
  • Furnish you with complete expense reports and  reimbursement records


Conclusion

A virtual assistant that knows how to write minutes can do all the tasks above and more. VAs can save a lot of time of money when hired for basic administration tasks such as research, email management, receptionist duties, calendar scheduling, or file organization. These digital humans can create reports, or perform web and technology-based tasks such as blog moderation or monitoring of your business rivals in social and industry channels. 

They will run your social media accounts, webinars, and perform research tasks such as SEO, influencer, and expert search for content marketing strategies. A virtual assistant for your minute writing tasks is also a cheaper alternative to a full-time personal assistant. A VA will change the way your business runs its meetings and ensure that your meetings are objective, rewarding, and engaging.

How to Effectively Write Minutes of Meeting Using a Virtual Assistant

write minutes of meeting

Few office workers love meetings. Most of them believe that their workplaces have too many meetings. Many don’t even know how to write minutes of meeting correctly. Data shows that workers spend 4.1 hours each week in a meeting. A third of this time is wasted due to disorganization, a significant cause of unproductivity.

These same employees spend about 13 hours a week reading emails. Complaints about ‘too many emails’ in the workplace are, however, a rarity. So why do meetings receive such negativity in the workplace? Should emails replace meetings?

Not at all. The conference room is a place of collaboration. It can aid in the creation of healthy and connected business culture. Launch revenue-generating missions here and make fantastic impressions. It is easier to agree to a bad idea in an email than in a meeting. In the flesh, a business owner can easily tell when there is reluctance or disagreement in opinion. Meetings are training grounds for success and a business think tank experience. They can be different and loved if they are well organized.


How virtual assistants can transform your meetings

This is a good age to transform your meeting process and reap all of their benefits. The advancements in internet technology and its high speed of operations have transformed the method of operation of many businesses.

Virtual conferencing, document sharing, and cloud-based project management platforms have allowed many enterprises to leverage remote working and talent. The current business operations environment is very accommodating to virtual work. Consequently, the virtual assistant (VAs) have become a norm for small businesses rather than an exception as it was in the past.

Entrepreneurs such as Tim Ferris of the “4 Hour Workweek” owe their success at business scaling to virtual assistants. Tim says that this virtual support staff allows him to work less while growing his business. To him, VAs are the unsung heroes of growing businesses globally.

VAs handle various aspects of business, such as transcribing documents, files organization, calendar scheduling, and coordination, statement preparation, minute note-taking, and other vital business administrative tasks.  

Data shows that hiring a VA is a very cost-efficient business move. A VA will cost you three times less than what you would have to pay for a full-time personal assistant. The beauty of hiring talent on demand is that you will need to pay for a specific skill set when necessary.

You will not need to spend time and money on a lengthy recruitment process and training of new employees. A virtual assistant’s support can especially shine when it comes to meeting minute writing.


Why do you need a virtual assistant to write minutes of meeting?

Image credits: Unsplash.com

Many organizations are dependent on VAs for impartial minutes taking during their meetings. They are a top favorite for community and voluntary groups such as the Scouts, Girl Guides or Brownies. Most small-sized businesses only hold meetings a few times each month, so they do not need a personal assistant in the office at all times. 

The need for virtual assistants is, therefore, on the rise since they can join in meetings from any part of the world and at any time and take your meeting’s notes. The VA is, therefore, a smart strategy that helps to manage time and business resources as business activities move a more frenzied pace. Some of the benefits of hiring a virtual assistant to take your meeting minutes to include;

  1. Increasing productivity and preventing burnout for business owners that have to perform different roles in their businesses. The virtual assistant will give you a much-needed break so that you can eliminate distractions and focus on the discussion at hand during meetings.
  2. Improving communication and collaboration between employees. The VA will keep each member updated on any conclusions and alterations.
  3. The meeting assistant can be hired when their skills are needed, meaning that you can hold your meetings past the usual nine to five work periods. As an illustration, a VA in a different time zone can cover your business’s night shift needs, increasing flexibility, and saving your business hefty human resource costs.


How to write minutes of meeting using a virtual assistant

Poorly run meetings are more common that a productive meeting. Most employees would rather tackle their large workloads at their desks than become stuck in a poorly organized and run meeting. This horrible outcome of bad meetings can be mitigated via the use of a virtual assistant.

The minute taking virtual assistant undertakes some pre-meeting and post-meeting tasks that will steer any meeting to the productive meeting zone. With a VA by your side, you can say goodbye to the agenda-less info dumps that kill productivity.

The VA will ensure that each meeting is well planned, the agenda well set, and the outcomes well defined. An office that does not have a trained personal assistant requires the services of virtual assistants to ensure that one participant will not monopolize and derail the conversation.

Here is how to write minutes of meeting with the help of a VA.


Set all pre-meeting arrangements

Your virtual assistant’s organization skills can shine during the pre-meeting phase. With the assistance of your VA, you can set the atmosphere for a stress-free meeting by delegating to them specific meeting preparation tasks such as:

  • Meeting scheduling
  • Travel, food, accommodation arrangements
  • Speaker and team contact and coordination
  • Preparation of presentations and research
  • Sharing of meeting materials and communication with all attendees
  • Proofreading of all documents


Discuss and set the agenda with your VA

One secret of a productive meeting is ensuring that meetings are not be held to convey information that an office email or memo can communicate. This is the reason why the setting of an agenda before a meeting is crucial to a meeting’s success.

Every participant invited to a meeting should receive an agenda that has a clear statement of the outcome expected from the meeting. This agenda ensures that the only people that attend the meeting are those that have something to contribute towards it, which lessens distractions.

A set agenda will also ensure that the VA will have a guideline to work with to ensure that each participant sticks to the designated topic. This aspect will cut off all ramblers and redirect any arising tangents. The agenda should communicate the;

  • Topics to be discussed
  • Topic presenters
  • Topic duration


 Prepare the right meeting technology

AIRA

When the VA is taking minutes, they will need tools such as WebEx, GoToMeetingSkype, Google Hangouts, Zoom, or AIRA. These ensure all the meeting’s objectives are met in a timely fashion. The VA should prepare these tools beforehand to eliminate all causes of delays due to tech challenges. 

They will ensure that all participants are prepared to use these tools, and all links and passwords to virtual meetings are provided beforehand. Tools such as AIRA, for instance, will transcribe and summarize meeting notes and organize all official meeting duties.

AIRA can recall your meeting’s action items, clarifying communication, speeding it up as well. This AI meeting assistant will join your virtual calls, take notes, highlight action points, and keep all the meeting’s participants updated.

Tools like AIRA can join different meetings simultaneously, and all you have to do to have their assistance is to make a call to your number. The AI will join your meeting and record your session. At the meeting’s end, AIRA will send you a transcription of your meeting and your minutes as well. She will also share these items with the rest of the participants and provide past analytics of meetings from her dashboard.


Keep the meeting focused on the agenda

One reason why most meetings receive high levels of negative feedback is that they take too long. The human brain has a very short attention span. If you engage it in hours of communication, it will begin to experience a “cognitive backlog”.

This challenge can also arise in a short one-hour meeting if time spent on a single topic is prolonged. Your VA can keep the meeting on track by setting and enforcing meetings rules such as;

  • An 18 minute only talk rule which brings discipline and has a clarifying effect.
  • Muting other microphones when one participant is speaking to eliminate background noise
  • Ensuring that all suggestions, questions, and comments are written down first and discussed when the last participant has made their presentation

Monitoring time and controlling the flow of the meeting are essential elements of a productive meeting. Have rules in place that prevent meetings that go in loops or that form heated debates by paying attention to time.


Post-meeting duties

At the end of the meeting, your virtual assistant will ensure accountability and follow-through by;

  • Write minutes of meeting and sending copies to all attendees as well as those that might have missed it
  • Archive the meeting minutes and store it as requested


Conclusion

Your virtual assistant of the day can also be an automated artificial intelligence technology assistant like AIRA.  The AI virtual assistant knows how to write minutes of meeting using natural language algorithms to interact with your workforce and therefore has a human feel. The AI assistant will, however, not make human errors when taking minutes, is precise, and faster than a human VA. 

7 Smart Tools That Helps You Win At Taking Action Items

action items

If your workweek is filled with meetings, you no doubt agree that running effective meetings is very important. One way to guarantee this is by taking down action items and subsequently following upon them to ensure they are completed.

Meetings without effective task- or decision follow up are a waste of time. The good news is though, that there are several tools in use today that guarantee proper meeting planning, minute taking, task scheduling, and follow up of action items. We will discuss these tools below:


How to choose a tool for taking meeting action items

During a meeting, participants often get assigned tasks. The expectation is that those participants should accomplish the task after the meeting and report back on progress or upon completion, and usually by a set date. Action items are part of meeting minutes; therefore, it is difficult to use separate tools for taking minutes from tools used for action-item tracking.

Effective action items have these two characteristics:

  • They are concise and
  • They are clear

As such, when choosing a tool for taking down meeting action items, you should choose a tool that addresses the following areas:  

What

Action items aren’t just simple task reminders. Tasks should be listed in such a way to eliminate misunderstandings among all participants and the task owner.

It is also possible, with time, for participants to forget important details around a task. Therefore, the more details you can record when all participants are present, the less likely you are to experience misunderstandings later on.  When everyone exits the meeting, they should do so with a consistent message.

Why

Are you just involving your team in busywork? Is there a clear objective to your task? Note down the importance of undertaking a task. A side benefit of defining the “why” of tasks is that it helps to identify activities that are unimportant.

When

Tasks have to be completed on time to prevent backlog pileup and project derailment. As the “meeting owner” or project manager, it is your role to follow up on action items to ensure their completion. It is therefore important to choose a tool that allows you to message people, call them, schedule new deadlines, etc.

Who

This is about ownership. Anyone who is assigned an action item is responsible for ensuring its completion. 

It’s also important to establish task dependencies because sometimes, some tasks need to be accomplished before others can begin.  For instance, marketing needs to run an ad campaign. But to do this, they need a sanitized list of accounts to target. This task falls on the analyst. So, before marketing can plan their campaign, the analyst needs to work on the data to support the campaign.


That said, below are 7 smart tools that will help you win at taking action items

1. MeisterTask

As mentioned, decisions and tasks should be actionable. Meistertask is a tool for task management that integrates with MindMeister, an online meeting tool. Meistertask makes it possible for teams to collaborate and be productive.

Meistertask has the following features: 

  • Tasks and ideas that are in MindMeister can be exported to MeisterTask and assigned as action items
  • You can add due dates to tasks.
  • Create checklists and add attachments
  • It is web-based; hence remote teams can work without having to worry about software updates
  • You can access it offline
  • Access through mobile on iOS, Android,

Pricing

Basic Free
Pro $4.13
Business $10.39
Enterprise Custom


2. Meeting King

There are several ways to create and manage tasks on MeetingKing.

First, you can add new tasks from the main navigation. Second, MeetingKing has a note taking area where you write notes and save them as tasks, assign responsibilities and a due date. Third, a great feature of meeting in is that it adds action items to the agenda of follow up meetings. This prevents important tasks from falling through the cracks.

Some features that make MeetingKing a great tool for managing action items include:

  • You can add notes and images to created tasks
  • Created tasks can be emailed to task owners and also added to the meeting owner’s and task owner’s task lists
  • You can contextualize tasks for easier follow up with departments or project teams
  • View all tasks or filter tasks based on context (department, project, product, person)
  • View task status in three columns: ideas, to do, completed tasks
  • Add new ideas to the parking lot, to avoid derailing the current agenda

Monthly Pricing

Pro Single (1 User) $9.95
Pro Small (5 Users) $39.95
Pro Medium (10 Users) $64.95
Pro Large (25 Users) $124.95


3. Ntask

Ntask

Ntask is a project, team and meeting management tool all wrapped up in one. It is also great for tracking and managing issues and risks.

Some meeting management features in Ntask include:

  • Creating meetings with a clear agenda, start and end times,
  • Linking meetings to tasks
  • Decision and action follow up
  • Once you schedule a meeting on Ntask, you can give editing rights so that participants can work on meeting material, including the agenda, decisions and actions.
  • You can also send meeting reminders by email to unlimited members.
  • The free version allows users to schedule unlimited tasks.
  • Ntask has mobile versions for both Android and iOS.

Note however that you cannot do voice or video conferences on Ntask as the software doesn’t come with that feature.

Pricing

Basic Free
Premium $2.99
Business $7.99
Enterprise Custome


4. Meetin.gs

Meetin.gs

Meetin.gs is a yet another useful meeting management tool, whose integrations with other software make it an ideal tool for organizing and streamlining meetings across social media tools, CRM, address books and your calendar.

It features a notification system, an attractive and interactive interface and the ability to integrate with google hangout, skype and Microsoft Lync. Meetin.gs also has meeting management capabilities such as:

  • Collaborative management of agenda. Teams can edit meeting agenda and edit or comment on uploaded documents and other material
  • Create, assign and manage action items collaboratively
  • View your meetings and related activities in a timeline
  • Save time by importing meetings from your calendar, including participants

Meetin.gs doesn’t support voice or video.

Pricing

Monthly Subscription $12
Yearly Subscription $129


5. AIRA by Eduba

AIRA

AI is fascinating for its ability to automate everyday tasks. Now imagine AI for meetings. That is what AIRA is. AIRA is built around the idea of SMART meetings, allowing its users to:

  • Eliminate time wastage
  • Remove redundancy
  • Improve attention during meetings
  • Improve productivity
  • Drive sales pipeline

AIRA, can attend meetings for you if you have a conflicting calendar, essentially giving you the ability to “kill two birds with one stone”.  You can actually dial in to multiple meetings with AIRA and this means that you never have to wonder about missing out on important discussions in your organization.

During meetings, AIRA takes down action items and then automatically emails meeting notes to participants once the meeting concludes. In addition, AIRA’s ability to sync with Microsoft 365 and Gmail means that you can manage your calendar all from one platform.

AIRA also has powerful integrative abilities and therefore can access your CRM, providing benefits such as:

  • Improved team transparency and collaboration
  • A smoother workflow for all your accounts, straight from your CRM

And if you are wondering how efficient your meetings are, no problem. AIRA has an analytics section that shows you how you performed and provides tips for improvement.

Pricing

Sign Up for Demo To know how it works, pricing plans, and more.


6. Lucid Meetings

Lucid Meetings

Lucid meetings is a meeting management app that comes with a detailed list of offerings, making it ideal for managing meetings in large and small teams. Lucid meetings is designed to ensure that businesses run effective and successful meetings. This it does through features such as:  

  • Management of action items
  • Follow-up of actions. Built-in follow up tips are available to organizers. 
  • Speaker queues to streamline conversations. This also saves time and moves the meeting forward
  • Share information with participants
  • Prompts for busy employees to keep them engaged
  • Collaborative interface, allowing all participants to work together
  • Access to meeting history available to everyone.
  • Meeting performance reports
  • Action taking is done in real-time and meeting records can be exported instantly and in different formats.
  • Email distribution enabled

Pricing

Business Flex $12.50 per host/month
Business $199/month
Enterprise Call


7. Samepage

Samepage

Samepage is a video and audio conferencing tool that comes with collaborative features that make it ideal for project management and for managing efficient meetings. It’s ideal for team meetings or having one on one calls.

With Samepage, you can:

  • Manage meeting scheduling in real-time: Send invitations, manage agenda and attendees
  • Project collaboration: Through the screen sharing option, you can work on tasks together, strategize and brainstorm project details and ideas
  • Screen sharing also allows for sharing of presentations
  • Text messaging feature is also available

Pricing

Free $0
Starter $7.50
Pro $9


Conclusion

That’s it for now. Hopefully, this list of 7 smart tools will help you win at taking action items. There are no doubt a lot of other smart tools available for minute taking and we would love to hear about them from you.

Be a Minute Master With These Meeting Minute Templates

introduction to meeting templates

Stellar meeting minutes are a sign of a professional and well-run company. Minutes are crucial to a firm and can act as a form of legal protection for enterprises. Auditors, the courts, and the taxman all take them as direct representations of the actions of a board or leadership. If it is not in the minutes, then it did not happen! 

These notes also give structure, drive action, and act as an accountability tool for employees. It is not much of a stretch, however, to say that the last thing any staff wants to do at a meeting is to become the designated minute taker. Indeed, many secretaries, trained in the art of it, often struggle with minute-taking before they eventually get the hang of it.

The task of taking minutes is also weighed down by certain tenure, gender, and experience stereotypes. Corporations that do not have a secretary free for minute taking in meetings, often have to delegate the charge to an employee.

An organization that ignores the prevalent stigma attached to the minute-taking process could unknowingly assign the task to female-only employees. Besides gender stereotypes, minute taking is often viewed as a chore for the least skilled or the most junior employee in the meeting. 

There are companies, however, that eliminate these unsavory associations with minute taking by forming a minute writing template for their forums.


Expert minute writing tips for the aspiring leader

meeting minute template

Employers today prize accuracy in minute taking more than ever before. Business meetings that involve discussions directly affecting the careers of workers or involving millions of dollars’ worth of decisions require effective minute takers.

The tips below can help you master the art of minute writing while enjoying it, and boosting your value in the ranks of your organization. Master them and become the most coveted player in the team.

1. Pre-meeting preparation

Do you know that over 60% to 70% of your tasks as a minute writer should be accomplished before the meeting’s kick-off? All work done during prep stages sets the mood and the foundation of success in the meeting room.

The best minute writers spend hours in advance preparing for a meeting. They will approach the CEO or board chair and together set the meeting’s agenda and templates.

2. Choosing the right technology

Novel technology is drastically streamlining official notetaking, freeing up secretaries to pursue other responsibilities. Utilizing technology can help you capture data more accurately and faster than manual notetaking can. At the very least, most minute takers type in minutes onto their laptops, eliminating the need for shorthand notes. 

You can also take advantage of video or audio recordings as your back up plan. The traditional notebook method can be satisfactory but highly insecure. Paper documents can easily vanish in between your home and the office.

Reinforce your loose-leaf and notebook minutes with advanced tools. Report all visual or audio tools utilized in meetings beforehand and seek permission. Additionally, you can take advantage of minute taking software that has features such as easy writing solutions and recording functionality.

aira meeting minute templates

These tools also have collaboration features and easily integrate with different devices.

An artificial intelligence-powered meeting assistant like AIRA is a one-man minute taking army. It dials into your meetings, takes notes, and classifies the minutes taken in the right format.

The minute writer should arrive earlier than everyone else on the D-day for setup and equipment function check. Have enough extension cords, batteries, and any other required accessories. Test the sound levels of equipment and ensure that the lighting is just right.

3. Review past minutes and set the agenda

A meeting agenda outlines the topics to be discussed. Additionally, it has the topic’s supporting documents, names of attendees, and recalls the deliberations made in the last meeting. For this reason, a good minute taker should perform a background study before the meeting. You should also study the characteristics of the past minutes made, the amount of detail involved, and the phraseology, to guide you on the best approach.

Without an agenda, the meeting can quickly lose its focus, incorporating discussions that waste time. Unfortunately, data shows that 63% of all meetings have been held in the absence of an agenda. It is not surprising, therefore, that 47% of all workers feel that meetings are the most time-wasting activity in the workplace. 

The problem here is not the meetings, but that the meeting is ill-prepared and ran. By setting an agenda in collaboration with the chairperson, project manager, or CEO, everyone gets on the same page eliminating the cycle of pointless meetings.

4. Minute writing tips

While pre-planning will take care of a large bulk of your minute taking work, the task fulfilled during the meeting is the most critical. Some of the most important rules of minute taking revolve around the elimination of destructive elements.

Some best practices that you can hone include eliminating content that, if reviewed later, will not matter at all. The ability to summarize is also of utmost importance. Avoid word for word re-writing of dialogues, and ignore content such as emotions, or arguments that steer conversations away from the agenda.

Alternatively, use meeting templates to enhance focus and to speed up your minute writing tasks. There are varieties of minute templates out there, each designed to suit a different type of meeting. For informal meetings, use templates that work well for one on one meetings, brainstorming sessions, or team huddle meetings.

Formal meetings templates, on the other hand, are perfect for the board, AGMs, safety, issue resolution, or quarterly meetings. Meeting templates have assigned spaces for content such as:

  • Participants
  • Time and date
  • Action items
  • Summary

Samples of meeting minute templates that will speed up your minute writing process

 

Hendrix Informal Meeting Template 4

If you love to color-code your notes, then this template will work perfectly for that brainstorming session. It has a bit of a formal feel to it, thanks to its table-based design. Your meeting’s notes will look very organized. Its visual appeal, nevertheless, keeps the notes free and airy, which is perfect for the visual professional.

Evernote meeting minutes templates

Source

List and note makers love Evernote. You can take all sorts of notes from this formidable application. Its templates library is rich in both meeting minutes and agenda templates. The software, therefore, has your back in both the pre-meeting and meeting stages of the process. You can access various meeting templates from Evernote Support.

Simply click view, log into Evernote and your template of choice will pop into your note. To get started, delete the template’s instructions. Evernote’s Meeting Agenda (Standard) template has both action and agenda spots organized in a simple, but clean table format.

This informal meeting template provides checkboxes for all items that have been deliberated to completion. You can use the Meeting Agenda template in small or medium-sized informal meetings such as weekly or team updates meetings. The beauty of Evernote templates is that they can be shared directly with all meeting attendees who have the app on their devices.

Google Docs meeting minutes templates

Source

Google Docs is a fantastic and free alternative for Microsoft Word. Its zero-dollar price tag is not the only reason why businesses adore it. One good advantage of Google Docs is that all its files are Word compatible, though they may lack a few word processing features. Google Docs has meeting minute templates that you can access from your Google Docs account.

Log in, launch a new document, then use the ‘More’ arrow to access hidden tab options. Scroll to the Work tab and choose a meeting note template of choice. Your Google Doc template will be cloud-hosted keeping your notes secure.

The app’s Annual Board Meeting template is perfect for formal meetings though it has a casual look to it. It has multiple sections for action items, next meeting details, notes, attendees and agenda.

Adobe Spark meeting minute templates

Source

Adobe Spark meeting templates are perfect for the creative industry’s informal meetings, whose notes need to be taken online. The free templates have a text summary and have spots for branded themes and elements.

You can also add video, hyperlinks, photos, and calls to action to these creative templates. The Spark Page meeting template is perfect for your kickball team or community service club meeting and can be sent to all attendees in seconds.

Access these templates from the Adobe Spark page then use the application’s intuitive user interface to customize them.

Office 365 meeting minutes templates

Source

Microsoft Word has over the years been the go-to source of business templates. The platform has a variety of Meeting Minutes saved under its templates section. You can access different formal and informal minutes templates to suit any forum or conference.

You can alternatively access more templates from the Microsoft Office site. Download or edit the Meeting notes template on the site. This is perfect for formal meetings and has slots to jolt down the meeting’s date, attendees, announcements, discussions, and round table deliberations.

The benefits of an AI-powered meeting assistant

Jotting down notes during a meeting can be a strong leadership trait. Still, it is an undeniable inconvenience since your concentration will at one time or the other be drawn away from the meeting. Formal meetings do require the full attention of everyone on board.

Fortunately, AI-powered virtual assistants can eliminate the need to physically write down notes. These fantastic meeting administrators record conversations, allowing you to watch live transcriptions of the on-goings. With the AI-powered bot, you can edit the transcripts where necessary, flagging action items, important decisions, and notes. 

AIRA is hands down the best virtual meeting assistant you will meet. The tool integrates perfectly with both Office 365 and GoogleMail. AIRA will alleviate the common issues associated with minute taking by automatically detecting the details of your meetings from your calendar and dialing herself in to take notes.

Your virtual meeting assistant is designed to identify the meeting’s action items, create summaries, and make a meeting’s keyword analysis. AIRA will not only save you from the difficult job of typing in notes but will also automatically send the finished meeting notes to all participants via email or WhatsApp.

Since she is cloud-based, you do not have to worry about backup copies or print outs as security. All the notes taken by AIRA are stored in a well-maintained cloud server. AIRA will also send you the analytics of your meetings for actionable insights and progress reporting.


Conclusion

We are now living in an age where virtual meetings are taking over from the traditional meeting format. Meetings are essential to businesses, and technology is evolving to accommodate them. The need for virtual meeting assistants is, therefore, bound to grow as more meetings take place in the cloud.

AI-powered minute takers will eliminate the need to have an extra hand in a meeting whose main purpose is to jot down proceedings. They will also unfetter the person in charge of writing minutes from notes taking, and allow them to pay more attention to their peers.

AI-powered meeting assistants such as AIRA and Zoom are 100% more accurate and reliable. Their organization skills and presence are totally disrupting the modern meeting as you know it.