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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.

10 Tips to Run Great Virtual Meetings

virtual meetings

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

Why virtual meetings?

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

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

Benefits of holding virtual meetings include:

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

 


How can you run a great virtual meeting?

great virtual meetings

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

Before the-meeting

1.      Ensure video works

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

2.      Send the meeting agenda in advance

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

  • Think ahead
  • Come up with ideas

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

3.      Set the meeting tone

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

4.      Minimize the number of meetings you hold

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

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

5.      Do your homework

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

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

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

 

During the meeting

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

6.      Let the team get comfortable with each other

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

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

7.      Encourage collaboration

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

This way:

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

8.      Establish meeting rules

For instance:

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

9.      Keep everyone engaged

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

After the meeting

10.   Send meeting notes

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


Conclusion

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

Happy meeting!

What Is The Right Way To Start A Meeting?

right way to start a meeting

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

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

Informing participants of the meeting’s purpose and outcome

Informing meeting participants

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

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

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

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


Empower the meeting participants

empower meeting participants

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

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

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

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

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


Restate your meeting’s ground rules

meeting's ground rules

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

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


Conclusion

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

The Top 10 Common Types of Business Meetings

business meetings

Business meetings often get a bad rap in the workplace despite the many benefits that they bring to a business. The reason why most meetings suck is that they are not productive at all. Most office employees deem them as boring displays of office power and politics.

There are however very many benefits of a well-run meeting. The meeting can be an effective leadership tool that strengthens relationships and enhance decision-making. Most meetings are only terrible because they are poorly organized. As an illustration, you cannot invite 20 employees for a small one on one meeting. It will be absolute chaos. This is the reason why the first step towards meeting productivity is an apt description of your meeting.

You can also make meetings more productive via technology. Artificial intelligence-based meeting companions like Aira can, for instance, write your meetings notes to ensure that all team members only show up and stay focused on problem-solving and collaboration.

Aira will dial into any meeting, highlight its action points, and share notes with all meeting members. Below are some common meeting formats in the workplace, which are very beneficial to a business as long as they are well organized and productive.


Team cadence meetings

Team cadence meetings

Team cadence meetings are held for performance reviews, and to energize a team’s connections. They can additionally assist an organization in the process of refining its business approach. This meeting will always have a fixed group of people and may occasionally have an occasional guest.

Team cadence meetings are therefore quite predictable and regular following a predictable design. Each cadence meeting often resembles the last one held and every team member knows what to expect before the meeting commences.

Consequently, a team cadence meeting does not require too much planning or extensive meeting facilitation procedures. Some examples of team cadence meetings include;

1. Weekly team meeting

Weekly meetings are a form of the business meeting whose schedule runs every week and at a designated time. The weekly meeting is vital because it will address any roadblocks, action items, or questions that may affect the next week’s business goals. Weekly meetings will run for 60 to 90 minutes tops.

2. The shift-change meeting

Shift-change or shift handover meetings are five to fifteen minutes long and are often held on a daily basis. They take place between the incoming staff and a tired group of employees eager to take a break.

The incoming staff has a very small window of time to engage with the other team, so this meeting requires an enforced meeting time and a lot of focus.

3. The Daily Huddle

The daily huddle is a five to fifteen minutes long meeting also known as a daily scrum or stands up. This short meeting occurs on a daily basis and its purpose is to inform and align the team on the day’s tasks.

4. Monthly meeting

The monthly management meeting can be a full or half-day affair that involves the business’s frontline, middle, and senior managers. The purpose of the monthly meeting is to ensure that all leaders take the time off to collaborate and learn from each other while addressing some larger business challenges.


Progress checks

Progress checks

Progress checks are held to nurture mutual accountability and project momentum. These structured business meetings will be led by an account or project manager to reassure or inform the employees that all business objectives are on track. Some of the most common progress checks at the workplace include;

5. The project’s status business meeting

Project status meeting members should be adequately prepared for the meeting beforehand to ensure productivity. All data should be collected in advance so that all questions can have answers. This meeting needs predefined objectives.

6. The client check-in

Client check-in meetings help businesses to enhance their relationships and partnerships with their customers. They should are meant to build trust by reassuring your clients that all partnerships are running smoothly. The meeting leader should have all the reports and metrics required at hand to demonstrate the value of their company to the client.


One on ones

One on ones meeting

One on one meetings are geared towards personal and career development. They also nurture relationship maintenance and individual accountability. Some good examples of one on one meeting include;

7. Manager and employee one-on-one

This meeting will have two parties with a familiar work relationship. They are very conversational but address a specific topic.

8. Mentorship meetings

Mentorship meetings are not as rigid as progress checks or team cadence meetings. They are held for education purposes and to help nurture talent in the business.


Action review meetings

Action review meetings

These are held to develop business confidence and to gain insight into business development objectives. Action review business meetings can help generate recommendations for change. Some of the most commonly held action review meetings include;

9. Agile retro perspectives

The meetings are time-boxed and have a very strict agenda. Through them, teams can develop and solve any challenges and are often by a team member. They are highly engaging and very professional.

10. Win/loss sales review meetings

These are very ritualistic business meetings and are a continuous learning tool. They are more forgiving towards surprises and often build very strong teams.


Conclusion

Governance cadence, conflict resolution, idea generation, planning, problem-solving, and workshops are other common business meetings that you can hold to enhance business growth. Ensure that they are properly planned and take advantage of meeting tools to enhance their productivity.

The Top 5 Traits Of Applied Conversational AI

applied conversational ai

Conversational artificial intelligence technology is still in its fledgling stage, but its business applications are mind-blowing. More than any other form of robotics, chatbots, a form of conversational AI have crossed the Uncanny Valley becoming more human-like than ever.

The Uncanny Valley is a mysterious region that nestles between the synthetic and natural in robotics design. Here, machines, which seem poised to supplant humans, become unappealing and unacceptable as per their level of humanness.

The phenomena coined by Masahiro Mori in 1970, hypothesizes that people develop an emotional sense of discomfort and unease when they encounter robots with an extreme mechanical composition. People prefer human likeness in robots. Watch out though; get too close to perfectly human, and the emotional uncanny valley phenomena steps in. Humans perceive such robots as eerie and discomfiting.


Applied Conversational AIs are comfortably human

The debate about Masahiro Mori’s hypothesis is still raging on, and pundits believe that the bridge across this sentimental rift is made of bots with features that are indistinguishable from humans. Conversational AIs from hobbyists and legacy businesses are building this bridge perfectly.

As an illustration, a few years ago, employees had to put down their names on a schedule on a conference room wall when reserving their places for a meeting. The internet era came by and made scheduling much easier with the digital calendar, allowing meeting members to automatically reserve their seats from the comfort of their desks. Collaboration also became easier across all meeting participants.

Today, with conversational AIs like Aira, you do not need to open any application to pre-engage yourself in a meeting. Virtual meeting assistants like Aira will give you a quick wake up and inquire about your availability for a meeting on a particular Thursday afternoon. The AI will search your company’s database for meeting procedures and processes and share them with employees that require the data.

This technology saves meeting preparation time and energy increasing productivity, collaboration, and smoothens the workflow. The meeting companion Aira for instance can intelligently join your online conferencing meetings, write meeting notes, and transcribe the meeting dialogue for future use.

She will highlight all your key points and share these notes with your meeting members. She integrates with customer relationship management platforms via Zapier and can supply the analytics of your meetings for optimization. The best applied conversational AI have traits such as;


1. Truly conversational

Truly Conversational

Source

Intelligent dialogue is a vital component for any AI and machine-learning platform purposing to stay clear of the Uncanny Valley. Research in dialogue and its patterns is central to the new generation of AI agents. The day’s conversational AI can carry conversations with its users across a wide range of topics.

They can chat with users just as well as people talk to each other and are therefore easy to use an enjoyable as well. Consequently, you can use them for more than song requests or scheduling appointments. They have engaging and coherent responses, can reason, and understand some nuances in conversations.

For this reason, conversational AIs have become crucial to customer experience improvement. Data shows that over 64% of businesses use them to offer personalized customer experience. Close to 70% of chatbot users report positive experiences and half of all millennials that have not encountered conversational AIs, are yearning to use them.

Genuinely conversational AIs are a big hit with this generation of customers because unlike emails, SMS texts, or calls, chatbots can provide instant gratification, a feature that most millennials crave for in customer service. They would rather ask Google or Alexa to read them a manual than asking service personnel for guidance over the phone.

Millennials love chatbots also because they can engage with them in the casual chat tones that they prefer. Consequently, over 83% of consumers say that chatbots are ‘very helpful’ and would make them their primary channels of contacting support.

It is therefore clear that in the future, the customer will seek the services of conversational AIs more than any other customer service process. Some of the notable weaknesses of open domain conversational AIs are their low aptitudes of consistency, empathy, specificity, understanding, and knowledgeability.

Consequently, there is a wide chasm between an intelligent conversation with a bot and a chatbot question answering service. The best AIs are humanlike in conversation understanding user intent and answering questions without ambiguity.

They can use machine-learning technology to learn more about the user and store the information learned for future personalization or context purposes. The best conversational AIs for multinationals are not only deeply conversational but also multi-lingual.


2. Hybrid models

Hybrid models

Source

Have you ever wondered how chatbots work? Well, here is a compressed low-down on the history of the conversational AI and why the hybrid AI is the ideal conversational AI. The history of chatbot technology is decades old, with the 1950 Turing Test laying the first block laid towards the development of conversational AIs.

More than a decade later, ELIZA by MIT’s Joseph Weizenbaum came by, utilizing natural language processing features for speech capabilities. All that ELIZA had to do was substitute people’s words into scripts, and then feed the scripts back to people to hold a conversation.

One of the most outstanding chatbots of the past is Elbot, whose cheekiness, wit, and sarcasm in 2000 came to the fore via the use of artificial intelligence and natural language processing. Since then, conversational AIs like Mitsiku and IBM Watson has been born. Nonetheless, few of these chatbots have had more popularity than the hybrid Siri, Google Now, Alexa, Cortana, and Facebook Chatbots, that all came into the market in the last decade.

Conversational AIs in the past were either machine learning models or purely linguistic. Purely linguistic bots like ELIZA need human conversations to create speech, responses, and rules. Understanding human language is a complex task for machines because conversations have nuances and subtleties that are difficult to recreate artificially.

This is the reason why hybrid AIs utilizes artificial intelligence and machine as well to mimic human abilities. AI and machine learning conversational bots harness massive amounts of training data curated for their learning. A hybrid AI and linguistic bots use natural language processing, understanding, and generation to deliver not only personalized experiences but also apt pre-scripted responses.

These hybrid chatbots can utilize your back-end systems, data repositories, and third party databases to create responses. These AIs are therefore optimizable and will deliver the perfect personality and response as per your business’s objectives.


3. Cross-platform capability

Cross-platform capabilityCross-platform capability

The best conversational AIs should prioritize your business’s opportunities, goals, strategy, and vision. The AI should demonstrate value and minimize risk by working within your ecosystem. Data shows that by 2024, the conversational AI will redefine the user experience, becoming the new customer touchpoint in the place of the website.

The technology will operate over 50% of the customer touches augmenting it with speech, computer vision, augmented and virtual reality, and computer vision. These bots will infiltrate every aspect of day-to-day and business life. Consequently, these tools have to easily integrate with your existing business framework and any other future devices and technology.

By utilizing AIs that can integrate with your business systems, you will save your business the costs of adopting new systems for AI use. The technology in use should support all its users across devices seamlessly to increase user engagement and satisfaction. Intelligent meeting assistants like Aira for instance, integrate with customer relationship management platforms via Zapier.


4. Analytics and data ownership features

Analytics and data ownership features

Do you know that by 2020, over 70% of all white collars employees will be in constant contact with a conversational AI? In two years, between 75% to 90% of all customer queries will be in the hands of customer service chatbots.  Consequently, different business sectors like banking are utilizing chatbots like Widiba for customer service improvement.

Automotive businesses like Škoda, utilize Laura the AI to enhance the customer journey. The amount of data that these service bots can collect over time is unfathomable. The information that they collect is also invaluable for business.

The data collected by these bots can be analyzed for actionable business insights. Your conversational AI of choice should, therefore, offer data protection, ownership, and analytics as part of the package.


5. Enterprise-level AIs

Enterprise-level AIs

Too often business purchase technology devoid of enterprise features. Most open-source conversational AIs rarely have the needs of business enterprises in mind. As an illustration, you will not find any user role management features or version control in non-enterprise chatbots.

There are no collaboration options or development and integration tools. Like Aira that has a robust system of service upgrades for productivity enhancement, choose AI tools that offer control and other robust business options, plus a proven success model.


Conclusion

Some other very useful traits of the best AI tools include personalization for recommendations and accuracy and control to prevent misuse or abuse of tools. Use conversational AIs also that offer brand differentiation features, to enhance visual brand personality and identity. The best AI tools utilize proven technology and have real-life applications.

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.

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.

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. 

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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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