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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

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

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.

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.

Resolved – 5 Biggest Challenges of Working from Home

challenges of working from home

Amongst the many benefits of the new ‘working from home’ normal is a positive impact on the sustainability of a myriad of initiatives. Economic growth has, in the past, exacted a heavy toll on climate change, sustainable urban living, and responsible consumption.

This drastic reduction of employee and employer carbon footprint has led to a remarkable improvement in intra-city congestion and pollution. Remote work is a sustainable economic growth feature and is the future of the labor landscape. Despite all its benefits, working from home has unique challenges as well. Some of these challenges include:

1. Coordination and communication challenges

According to David Heinemeier and Jason Friend, the founders of Basecamp, communication is foundational to the success of a remote working team.

The authors of REMOTE: Office Not Required, say that bad blood can easily develop between work from home teams when the bulk of their communication takes place through email. This set up will quickly snowball small blunders into full-blown melodramas if they are not quickly nipped in the bud.

Fortunately, a whole industry sprung up around team collaboration tools that make it easier for employees to communicate effectively. Aira, for instance, is a meeting assistant that automatically records and transcribes meeting dialogue.

This robust voice AI platform will save all your meeting notes in one location. She will also help all remote working teams keep track of all online meetings deliberations. Aira doubles team productivity, info sharing efficiency, and multiplies sales increase. Team collaboration tools ensure that no member of the team feels left out of the loop.

2. Distractions

Source
Professor Robert Kelly’s BBC interview that earned him the title of ‘BBC Dad” is a perfect example of how distracting the work from home environment is.

In the 2017 live interview with the British news channel, the professor’s two children made a comical entrance to his home office as he talked about the ouster of Park Geun-Hye of South Korea. Parents working from home watched in amusement as Kelly kept composure during the brief scene, keeping the show running.

Most parents can relate to the live TV blooper because they all struggle to maintain a work and home life balance when they have work near their children. One of the major reasons some employees embrace working from an office is to build a firm barrier between their home and work life. To work successfully from home with fewer distractions, you need a designated work spot, devoid of all disturbances.

Have some noise-canceling headphones to eliminate auditory distractions. Set up firm rules with your family and politely ask them to behave as if you were away at work when you are at work from home.

3. Time management

Employers have the innate fear the remote work employees will slack off in the absence of oversight. Most times, the opposite is the reality.

Most work from home employees will overwork because they find it harder to switch off. Surrounded by all the tools needed to put in extra work, they will have a harder time drawing the line. This challenge becomes even more complex when you are working for yourself.

Every remote worker needs to establish a work schedule that keeps them from overworking or slacking off. This rota will keep you productive and give you ample time to be with family and friends. Use tools such as an AI meeting assistant, Trello,  Asana, and Evernote to schedule, manage time and tasks, and organize your work hours.

4. Lack of social interaction

social interaction

Co-workers are often an employee’s main social circle if they do not have a close family. If you are working from home, isolation can be a challenge if you spend days by yourself. To lessen the feeling of being a hermit, have social breaks in your work schedule.

Go out for lunch with friends or grab yourself a snack from a friendly food shack attendant down the street. Take your computer with you to a co-working space occasionally, or work from a coffee shop and enjoy the social environment. Join local organizations and groups for meet-ups and recreation.

5. Technology hiccups

Challenges such as internet outages can make remote work a problem. You do not want your connection or computer to crash right in the middle of an important zoom meeting. To avoid such inconveniences and for your peace of mind, have a backup plan. You can, for instance, a mobile hotspot device for an alternative internet connection and a backup tablet or laptop at hand.

Conclusion

Ditching the daily commute, working from anywhere in the world, and a flexible work schedule are some advantages of working from home. The challenges above, however, can make remote work unproductive if you do not use them to create structure, routine, and discipline.

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.

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,

How To Conduct The Most Productive Online Sales Meeting With Aira

online sales meetings

Having a productive online sales meeting is vital for generating sales. This is especially so now, where the isolation-related stress wrought on by the COVID19 pandemic can make it is difficult for salespeople to feel excited about work.

In this article, we will discuss how AIRA can help your team remain productive during their online sales meetings. AIRA is an AI-enabled meeting tool that works by making meetings efficient. With prior planning and stress-free preparation, salespeople can begin looking forward to their online sales meetings and also be productive while in attendance. We will show you to make this happen with AIRA.


What are the prerequisites for a productive meeting?

Before we go into how AIRA can help make your online sales meetings productive, let’s first consider the makings of a successful meeting. What do you need to have a productive meeting?

An agenda

A meeting agenda tells participants what to expect from a meeting. That is:

  • Why they are meeting. e.g, what will they discuss? You can arrange this in topics, designate speakers and allot them time so that they prepare ahead of time
  • The expected outcome of the meeting

Always send your meeting invites a few days prior, and call attention to any preparation by key speakers.

A meeting agenda sets the tone of any meeting. The great thing about AIRA is that because it assigns action points after the meeting, it sets the tone for future meetings, ensuring that action-tracking becomes a continuous agenda until goals are accomplished. In addition, AIRA’s keywords feature ensures that future meetings can be grouped around a specific action or task.

Adding Value

A meeting should add value to its participants by:

  • Prov.iding information that makes goal achievement possible or easier
  • Training
  • For instance, market share, competitor activities, market trends, new opportunities

Team participation

People own the results of a meeting when they participate actively. A high level of participation begins with inviting the relevant people to a meeting.

Consistency

Meeting recurrence should be kept regularly to ensure that sales performance is analyzed constantly. Recurrences block off certain days or hours of the week. This keeps your team on a routine and gives them a strict timeframe within which to complete tasks.

As Aira is AI, it can quickly analyze people’s calendars and then select a meeting time that suits everyone. This ensures a higher level of attendance.


The benefits of using AIRA for conducting productive online sales meetings

AIRA

Stress-free operation

A survey conducted among 1000 workers across 4 European countries found that 90% of employees show signs of stress when faced with new or troublesome technology during meetings.

Employees also waste a lot of time troubleshooting, prior or during the meeting, either:

  • Trying to fix the problem (66%)
  • Coordinating with IT support to fix the problem (50%)
  • Preparing handouts as plan B (50%)
  • 15% of those surveyed even said that they postpone meetings until the technical problem can be resolved.

As remote working became the new normal for everyone, people have had to learn technology almost overnight and use it to run every aspect of the business. In addition to the stress of facing possible job cuts, due to shrining business prospects, having technology that is hard to understand and operate can push workers to the edge.

AIRA is pretty much plugged and play, and this ensures stress-free meetings in the following ways:

It’s easy to set up and use

Anyone can use Aira, even with little to no technical know-how. It’s also very integrative, and most of these processes are automatic and require little to no setup.

Some characteristics that denote AIRA’s ease of use include:

  • It integrates with your calendar, so you don’t need to do that yourself
  • Its interface is intuitive, hence user-friendly
  • It integrates well with meeting room equipment

Salespeople can use Aira while on the move, by dialing in from their mobile phones

Ensuring meeting relevance

One of the biggest time wasters for employees in any organization is attending meetings that aren’t necessary or relevant. Additionally, once in the meeting room, it is easy to get diverted and have meetings that aren’t productive. To ensure meeting relevance, Aira:

  • Invites the right people
  • Sets meeting goals and objectives beforehand
  • Keeps track of meeting time and ensures that you get the most from your allotted time
  • Records and transcribes meeting action points, which keeps subsequent meetings on the topic
  • Makes use of keywords so that salespeople and other team members can follow up based on topics that are most relevant to them

 

Voice AI leaves attendants free to concentrate on meeting agenda

Taking meeting notes can waste time during meetings if people have to pause to accommodate the slower speed of manual note-taking. Participants also have to contend with interruptions when asked to rephrase or restate a point. All these factors can cause meeting participants to lose concentration and deviate from the meeting agenda.

With AIRA, meeting attendants don’t have to worry about missing a point. This is because AIRA automatically records meeting notes, and then transcribes them.

In addition, eliminating note-taking tasks means that meeting participants can concentrate on developing ideas and furthering the meeting agenda.

Reduce monotonous tasks

Imagine if you have to schedule meetings every week and each time, your tools fail. You would then have to spend a lot of time on manual meeting management and this would leave you little time to be productive in other areas.

One study found that an organization can lose up to 47,000 hours of total employee time per year, just on meeting scheduling.

Hubspot study on employee productivity

Meeting management can interfere with employee productivity (source: Hubspot)

When meeting organization and management becomes routine, having an AI tool such as Aira to handle such tasks leaves you free to focus on other important matters.


Final words

Meeting tools should enhance how you conduct meetings by improving attention, enhancing collaboration and promoting accountability. Aira does this and more, by taking the stress out of meeting management to guarantee productive online sales meetings.

Why AIRA Is The Best Meeting Minutes App For You

best meeting minutes app

A meeting minutes app is an essential part of running a business efficiently. But though there are many meeting minutes apps out there, not all of them will do what they promise. Testing one app after another to find the right one will waste your valuable time and is therefore not a sustainable approach for finding apps if you are busy running a business.

If you have been searching for the best meeting minutes app, your journey ends here because in this post, we will tell you why we think AIRA, an AI-powered best meeting minutes app, is the best, and why recommend that you sign up for a demo.

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Why you should manage your meetings and take minutes with AIRA

AIRA isn’t just a tool for taking minutes, but a complete meeting and calendar management tool. We recommend AIRA simply because it does what it promises, and that promise is backed by its great features which include:

1. Calendar sync

Calendar sync

AIRA syncs into your personal organization tools such as google mail and Microsoft 365, allowing you to use those tools more robustly.

Immediately you log into AIRA, it automatically picks up your calendar details. In the image below, notice the dots on the specific days. They represent all the meetings that are scheduled to take place on those days.

The list view on the top right hand corner of the calendar allows you toggle your meetings lists on and off.

While the auto-join function in the list view makes it easy for you to join meetings on AIRA directly from your calendar.

Calendar syncing prevents double booking, because whenever there’s a new meeting scheduled, it is automatically added to your calendar. Calendar sync also ensures that you attend all meetings on time as you will never miss a notification.

If you have indicated your availability times on your calendar but so happen to schedule a meeting during such times, they change to reflect you are busy, allowing others around you to manage their expectations.


2. Note sharing

Note sharing

Aira automatically records and transcribes meetings discussions.

The “Meeting notes” section in AIRA is where all notes are generated and posted at the end of every meeting. If you click on an item in the meeting notes list, it will show the transcript of the meeting discussion.

Next to the transcript is a voice recording and keywords from the meeting. Clicking on a keyword highlights the part in the transcript where that word was discussed. This saves a lot of time and effort that you would otherwise have had to use scanning an entire document to find what you are looking for.

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3. Join all meetings: In-person, virtually, on the move

Aira joins online meeting

Aira is designed to join all meetings, whether or not you are available. If in transit, you can use your mobile phone to connect.  A call to your number automatically allows you to start the meeting.

AIRA has an “auto-mail” function that allows you to send meeting notes (recordings, transcripts, action items and meeting keywords) to attendees. So after every meeting, everyone will receive all discussions from the meeting, regardless of their location.


4. Action items: Edit action items and share instantly with the team

During the meeting, you can actually tell AIRA to take note of action items. Those action items will then appear under the “action items” section under the “meeting notes” tab. This helps everyone who attended or didn’t attend, to update themselves on “next steps”.

If you have enabled the auto-mail function, AIRA will automatically email all the meeting details to attendees. You can also send the email manually from within AIRA.


5. Informative and actionable analytics

Informative and actionable analytics

Meeting analytics give you a chance to optimize future meetings for maximum benefits to your sales pipeline.

AIRA has an analytics feature that gives you details such as number of meetings per week or month, and number of meeting notes taken.

If you want to refer to a specific meeting, you can look up the details in the “my meetings” section, where you can call up the transcripts from that meeting,


6. Integrates your CRM using Zapier

Zapier allows apps to be integrated into a business, creating automated workflows. Automation saves time, improves visibility, creates transparency and eases the workload.

Integrating a meeting minutes tool like AIRA into your CRM creates endless opportunities for growing your business. For instance, after a meeting, all team members will see meeting notes and execute on their areas.

  • Marketing teams can activate a campaign based on action points and keywords generated from your meeting
  • Sales teams can set up a demo with the client, or upsell
  • IT support can immediately fix user problems

Integration also improves customer perception, as customers will see you as efficient. If you had a meeting with a customer, they will receive minutes and action points immediately, and this boosts their confidence about your efficiency.


7. Support

An app can be great and do everything it promises, without customer support, that experience can be greatly diminished. App upgrades are also important when deciding whether to sign up for an app because, without upgrades, app functions will not work.

The team at AIRA is always working to upgrade the meeting app to make it serve you more effectively and productively.


What next?

AIRA makes life simpler by taking away the hustle of meeting organization and coordination. So, if you are still running meetings the old fashioned, inefficient way, making AIRA part of your tech stack will improve how you run meetings and take meeting minutes.

Getting started with AIRA is easy using your outlook or google email. AIRA also works with any web conferencing bridge. But before you get started, watch this demo video and also book an appointment with someone from TEAM AIRA.

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AI Transcription vs Human Transcription: Who Wins The Battle?

ai transcription vs human transcription

Transcription is a very important part of everyday life for:  

  • Professionals from all walks of life, whose days are packed with meetings.
  • Those meetings on the go. A transcript from a meeting management software like Aira will ensure that you don’t miss important details from your meeting.
  • Journalists, who hold interviews and have to meet reporting deadlines
  • Students, who are constantly struggling with coursework, research and exam deadlines
  • People who have hearing challenges. Transcriptions are also useful for those who have a hearing impairment.

The ability to transform audio files into text for all these groups of people makes text editable, organizable in a manner that makes sense to those who use it, and more accessible for those who prefer to read instead of consume video or audio content. This is the case especially for meetings, whereby meeting minutes are best accessed via text.

Text files make it easy for people to peruse and see all details of a meeting at a glance, including action items and assigned tasks.


The differentiation: AI transcription vs human transcription?

The choice between AI transcription vs human transcription comes down to 2 things:

  • Accuracy
  • Cost vs time

1. Accuracy

A transcription is considered accurate if:

  • It has no spelling errors
  • The language is clear and the text captures nuances
  • The meaning conveyed is what was relayed in the audio, both in weight and accuracy

Manual transcription is usually done by people who listen to a file, then type what they hear. One of the main use cases for manual transcription is when dealing with people with foreign accents, a lot of background noise or where there are multiple speakers in the audio. In addition, some companies typically use human transcription only. For example, film production, legal firms, research companies and academia. These industries prefer to use humans because of their high accuracy level.

Since humans understand nuanced language, the accuracy levels for transcriptions done manually by humans are higher than those done by AI.

That said, a greater understanding of machine learning has led to the growth of sophisticated digital assistants such as Siri and Alexa, which are great for everyday personal use. There are also new services such as Aira, which are more useful in a business setting and will handle everything from meeting scheduling to transcribing meeting notes and emailing them.

The main drawback of AI is that as compared to human beings, AI needs to learn first, so that it can perform with human precision. You could argue that the same might also apply to humans; we do after all need to learn everything first. But while AI might learn spoken words and even self-correct with repeated learning, AI still has difficultly recognizing nuances in language and making accurate translations where slang is us2ed.

2. Cost vs time

The cost of transcription services is a lot lower when using AI. The cost of human transcribers can range anywhere from $40 to $200 per hour. That is very costly when you regularly have to work with a lot of audio files. Not to mention, there are additional costs depending on factors like accent, turn-around-time, accuracy levels and audio quality.

During economic recessions when cost cutting is the order of the day, manual transcription can burn a hole in your pocket and prove to be unsustainable in the long run.

In addition to costing higher, human transcribers do take a longer time to work through a file. It takes a human transcriber roughly 5 hours to transcribe a video or audio file. As such, manual transcription services may not meet expected deadlines, and this might disappoint you if you are working with tight deadlines.


Which transcription service should you choose? AI or human?

Ai or human transcription

The choice between manual vs AI transcription comes down to a few things, some of which include:

What do you need to transcribe?

Human transcription is especially useful for big projects such as market research, survey studies, product launches among other sensitive projects. Such projects require such a high rate of accuracy, that it is necessary to use human transcribers.

However, if your company can invest in an editor, then you can still use a mix of AI transcription services and a human editor even for such projects.

Accuracy

As discussed above, the higher the accuracy of your output, the better. Some software, particularly free software, can have low accuracy levels. Depending on the transcription software you use, accuracy levels may fall below the accepted 80% accuracy level.

What is the deadline for the transcription?

Companies that use AI usually do so:

  • When they need the transcript immediately,
  • When they need a rough draft that an editor can work with,
  • If the audio equipment is clear and can filter background noise

Even where deadlines are not strict, transcribing using AI is still a preferable option because it opens up your time to do other work. If you can get through your tasks faster, then AI makes all the sense in the world.

How much work do you need to transcribe?

Humans lack the ability for real-time transcription especially when working with large files. AI can do it in a matter of minutes. When time is of the essence, it’s better to use AI but note that before you share those files, you need to review them.

How much budget are you working with?

AI transcription is a lot more economical as compared to human transcribers. Even where human editing will be needed, having an AI transcript will still save you money because your editor would not need to start from scratch. 

Is the speech nuanced?

Nuances in spoken language can pose a challenge for AI transcribers, leading to inaccurate transcriptions. However, note that after AI learns, it becomes better at interpreting nuanced language.


Should you do your audio transcription yourself?

You may want to do the transcription yourself if you are concerned about cost or where you feel you are the only person who can do it right. While this is certainly doable, there are downsides to this approach:

  • Transcribing is time consuming
  • You’re likely to make mistakes if you are not a professional transcriptionist

You also have to invest in a lot of tools if you have to do the transcription yourself. For example:

Foot Pedal

A foot pedal allows you to use your foot for operations such as play, pause and rewind. This leaves your hands free to type.

Headphones

Audio files usually include words and other background noises such as clanking keyboards, human sounds, pauses, etc. All this noise is captured in a transcription file, along with the words said. A pair of high quality noise-cancelling headphones will ensure that you get clear audio and thereby limit the number of times you have to rewind and relisten.

Chair

A comfortable, and preferably ergonomic chair will make the time you spend transcribing more enjoyable. A good chair should support your back, make you sit in a good posture and eliminate muscle fatigue. Your chair should also support blood circulation.


Bottom line

As you can see, the choice between AI and human transcription really depends on what your priorities are and the nature of your work. When using meeting AI for example, scheduling conflict can simply be resolved by having an AI meeting assistant attend a meeting for you. In the end, most people usually go for a hybrid mix of AI and human transcribers, as both complement each other.

Whatever the case, whether you choose manual or AI, you will get more success with paid transcription services. This is because paid services come with more editing tools and higher accuracy levels as compared to free services.  

Image credits: unsplash.com, pixabay.com

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.

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