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online meetings

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

meeting assistant apps

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

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

1. Aira

Aira

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

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

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

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

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


2. Calendly

Calendly

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

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

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

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


3. Slack

Slack

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

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

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

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


4. HubSpot

Hubspot

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

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

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

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


5. Arrangr

Arrangr

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

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

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


Conclusion

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

How To Take Better Meeting Notes From An Online Meeting

meeting notes

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

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

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

Before we begin, let’s define meeting notes.

What are meeting notes?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What details should you include in your meeting notes?

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

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

Manual and automated note taking  

There are two ways to take manual notes:

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

Manual note taking: Laptop vs pen and paper

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

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

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

How to take better meeting notes manually

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

Here’s how to take manual notes easily:

Use shorthand

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

Codify

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

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

Automated meeting note taking

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

How Aira Help With Business Internal Communications Problems

internal communications

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

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

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

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

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


How can you use AIRA to improve internal communications?

Improve your online meetings through better record keeping

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

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

The answer is simple: AIRA.

AIRA is an AI based assistant that

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

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

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

Handling customer requirements

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

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

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

Product planning

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

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

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

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

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

 

Sharing meeting notes

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

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

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


Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

Try out AIRA.

10 Traits Of Best AI Meeting Assistant Explained

best ai meeting assistant

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

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

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

1. Meeting scheduling

aira ai meeting assistant

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

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

2. Automatic time monitoring

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

3. Meeting documentation

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

4. Company data sharing

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

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

5. Meeting analytics

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

6. Contract analysis

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

7. Email management

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

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

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

8. Expense and payment auditing

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

9. HR processes

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

10. Meeting room experience enhancement

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

Conclusion

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

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

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 for online meetings

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

Start Syncing your Zoom Meetings Today with AIRA


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.

10 Tips to Run Great Virtual Meetings

virtual meetings

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

Why virtual meetings?

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

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

Benefits of holding virtual meetings include:

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

 


How can you run a great virtual meeting?

great virtual meetings

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

Before the-meeting

1.      Ensure video works

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

2.      Send the meeting agenda in advance

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

  • Think ahead
  • Come up with ideas

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

3.      Set the meeting tone

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

4.      Minimize the number of meetings you hold

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

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

5.      Do your homework

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

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

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

 

During the meeting

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

6.      Let the team get comfortable with each other

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

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

7.      Encourage collaboration

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

This way:

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

8.      Establish meeting rules

For instance:

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

9.      Keep everyone engaged

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

After the meeting

10.   Send meeting notes

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


Conclusion

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

Happy meeting!

The Top 7 Online Meetings Etiquette and Best Practices to Follow

online meetings etiquette

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

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

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


The growth of online meetings

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

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

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


1. A meeting leader should prepare for the meeting

meeting preparation

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

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


2. Make a meeting schedule and stick to it.

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

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


3. Minimize distractions

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


4. Begin with introductions

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


5. Be professional

be professional

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


6. Keep the meeting engaging

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


7. Observe privacy for security

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


Conclusion

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

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.

Top 10 Effective Tricks to Transform Your Normal Meetings Into Smart Meetings

smart meetings

Long before the onset of the ongoing global pandemic, dispersed teams were slowly becoming common in the workplace. The online meeting in the age of the pandemic is now a staple. Unfortunately, some of these virtual meetings are more unproductive than their traditional meeting counterparts.

Collaboration has a great advantage in the workplace, but it is not an easily achievable attribute amongst dispersed teams and their virtual meetings. The speedy chat by the water cooler has evolved into 30-minute video meeting on an online meeting platform.

Work hours have been lost to awkward video chats with data showing a massive increase in the use of virtual meeting tools such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom. By the end of March, Microsoft teams had accumulated over  2.7 billion minutes of use while Zoom downloads had blown up by 1330%

It is not unusual to have these gawky meetings go out of hand as familiar sounds of “your screen was frozen for a minute, kindly repeat your point” or “kindly turn on your mic” bring the meeting to a standstill.

Zoom fatigue has now become a new phenomenon, eating away at dispersed team’s sanity and ensuring the meeting productivity stays at an all-time low. Did you know that once distracted, the human brain requires 23 minutes to get its focus mojo back? This data point is a good explanation of why the 30-minute online meeting is often extremely unproductive. 


Why you need to have smart meetings

There are nevertheless many advantages to online meetings amongst dispersed teams. When workers in diverse locations, separated by time and space collaborate, they can develop products, services, and information faster, cheaply, and more efficiently.

By distributing employees, businesses become more agile in production and customer requests management. The virtual collaboration will also enhance key stakeholder involvement in a business’s decisions and work processes.

When smart meetings become a norm, both the employee and stakeholder will experience more satisfaction and an improvement in the quality of work.


Ten of the best tips on how to hold smart meetings

1. Have a meeting facilitator

AIRA

Most normal meetings are not collaborative because most professionals do not have basic meeting management information. In a physical meeting room, however, this shortcoming is surmountable. The meeting’s members will fumble, stumble, and will eventually make the meeting work.

An online meeting is less forgiving. When you have a variety of professionals in diverse time zones and geographies, a few hitches can throw the whole meeting into disarray. You can put an end to awkward silences and sudden bursts of speech with a meeting facilitator.

The facilitator will put an end to the free-for-all environment, ending discussions that hijack and that throw the agenda out of the window. The smart meeting facilitator will develop the meeting’s agenda and ensure that every member has an opportunity to contribute.

They will keep every participant from going off-topic and ensure that all meeting notes are taken, shared, and followed up after the meeting. Aira is a virtual meeting assistant that intelligently takes meeting notes and shares them with meeting participants.

She will turn your normal meetings into smart meetings via her state of the art machine learning and artificial intelligence technology. This virtual meeting assistant will join your online meetings, transcribe the meeting’s dialogue, and highlights the action points discussed.

With Aira at hand, your human facilitator can enjoy sharing and solving problems with other team members. They will not spend their meeting moments on minute writing tasks. Aira integrates with customer relationship management platforms via Zapier, to ensure easy access to meeting documents and analytics.

2. Use participant’s names

Participants

According to research done by Wil Schuz, when individuals gather to collaborate they need to feel in control. They also require openness and inclusion. These three needs can be naturally meet in a physical meeting but are harder to meet in a virtual meeting.

The need for inclusion for instance can be met by ensuring that all participants are called by their names. This smart meetings feature will cut down on the fear of being marginalized or ignored. Most online meeting members join meetings with the sneaky suspicion that no one recognizes or knows that they are present.

Use names to foster the feeling of inclusion. Online meeting tools like Zoom will display names automatically during meetings.

3. Poll the participants

Virtual meetings could have cross-cultural elements opening up a wide door for cultural challenges. There also virtual meetings that are held across international airwaves, bringing about language and time differences to the already challenging virtual meeting mix.

Virtual work also has many personal challenges. Humans assimilate 65% of communication via their eyes by translating a speaker’s body language. Non-verbal communication helps to foster a sense of team and trust.

Most online meetings kill most non-verbal communication cues, which encourages a breakdown in the interpretation of dialogue. You can meet the meeting member’s need for inclusion by polling the group. The meeting facilitator can ensure that they speak to each person in the virtual room and ask them whether they have ideas to share or whether they agree to the agreement at the table.

Since the virtual space lacks visual cues, the facilitator needs to cue in members when it is their time to speak. Polling every person in the room will increase the feeling of control and inclusion and cut down on boredom and dozing members.

Use smart tools such as Lean Coffee Table that allow members to vote and suggest on the ongoing discussions. The tool will enhance inclusion, and enhance feelings of influence, competency, and control.

4. Timebox your meetings

Most meetings are too long, a disastrous mistake when it comes to virtual meetings. You need to schedule a meeting time and use it accordingly. Do not extend your meeting time. Try whittling down the time until you have the perfect time schedule fit.

Timeboxing helps in dedicating blocks of time to a specific meeting agenda and topic. This practice keeps the meeting productive, meeting all goals laid. Use smart time management tools such as TickTick Premium to time box your meeting’s schedule.

5. Lay down meeting rules then optimize them

meeting rules

There are many conflicting online meeting facts out there. Some say that members should mute their microphones to reduce distraction. Others say that the use of video enhances concentration, preventing distractions such as selfies or multi-tasking. 

Rules are necessary for group management but you will not know how effective they are until you test them. Smart tools such as Google Forms or SurveyMonkey, can help you test, analyze, and optimize your meeting rules.

6. Use virtual whiteboards

You can create a common visual focus to increase participation. The visual documentation of ideas will increase participation and collaboration. Visual focus can be enhanced via screen projections or virtual whiteboards. WebEx has a smart whiteboard feature that allows its users to sketch their feelings or ideas on it.

7. Allow members to chat

Short online meetings have very little time to spare for adequate inclusion procedures. Tools such as GroupMe helps dispersed teams to chat among themselves on the go. It has a video, picture, and emoji feature as well as location sharing.

8. Have a technology guru at hand

Many businesses are grappling with the implementation of an effective virtual workplace. These companies are holding meetings without a plan in the hope that they will reap the benefits and opportunities of collaboration.

Unfortunately, all that they are gleaning are the pitfalls of unproductive meetings. The online meeting is very dependent on technology. Most employees on the other hand lack the technological know-how required to operate these virtual tools.

 Since few users understand how to make the best use of these tools, the technology will ‘go down’ when it is needed the most. It pays to have a technology guru to handle your distracting technology glitches and reduce delays.

9. Inspire joy!

inspire joy

There is never a dull meeting in smart meetings. Eliminate any boredom by marking events to enhance satisfaction amongst participants. Some businesses will for instance call for a virtual candle lighting session to inspire joy and contemplation.

Since online meetings do not have organic socialization, encourage non-work activity, and catch up sessions after the meeting. Let them introduce their babies or fur babies or sing Baby Shark. They can utilize GroupMe to enhance direct messaging and coordinate private chats across diverse device platforms.

10. Make the meeting proceedings actionable

Use tools such as Aira to share meeting notes afterward and to ensure that all deliberations are followed up on. Aira will share your meeting notes and transcriptions via email to all team members. You can also upload your meeting documents to Google Drive to enhance real-time document sharing and collaboration.


Conclusion

Smart meetings are productive and enjoyable and are a formidable part of a business’s growth strategy. Use these tips above to create smart meetings that enhance collaboration, productivity, and feelings of inclusion amongst members.

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