Remote working is the new norm, thanks to the global pandemic. Many businesses – especially those with no previous online presence – have found themselves grappling with this new reality. So we have a remote sales team whose main mode of selling was via face-to-face interaction.
Remote selling provides a unique opportunity to enhance the selling process while improving productivity. But how do you do ensure that your sales team is pulling their weight when working from home?
When managing a remote sales team, setting up operational efficiency can be a significant challenge. Therefore, you need an effective communication tool like Aira to collaborate more effectively with them. Read on to learn how you can lead your remote sales team from the comfort of your home.
The Pros and Cons of Remote Selling
Remote selling is also known as virtual selling. It refers to a buying cycle in which most sales conversations occur between buyers and sellers in various geographical locations. With a large part of the interactions being remote, remote selling entails virtual selling techniques.
A major benefit of working from home for you – and your team too -is increased flexibility. You can even choose where to work from and when to work.
With a remote sales team:
It is cost-effective. Remote selling helps cut down on costs such as office rent, office supplies, mileage, and drastically reduces the time used on the work commute.
It enhances productivity. The use of digital communication tools and cloud-based software help make remote selling easier, thus boosts productivity. With no need to travel and meet clients, your sales team has more time to improve on sales pitches and selling strategies. This enables them to capture better leads, nurture prospects, and make more sales.
It widens the selling scope. By using the internet, your remote sales team can now reach out to a global audience. Results? More deals closed.
It makes the sales process more effective. With the right tools, you can grow your sales and scale your business. Remote selling provides you with a unique opportunity to use technology to organize internal and external communication, automate repetitive tasks, and manage your pipeline.
It helps motivate your sales team. Remote selling empowers your sales reps and helps boost their morale. This is because they have the autonomy to run their activities, access to comprehensive resources, and the freedom to make independent judgments.
It helps reduce stress: The flexibility to set their schedule or choose their preferred workenvironment – within certain guidelines – also helps sales teams reduce work-related stress. Additionally, it fosters a positive attitude and helps them produce remarkable results.
Remote selling has its downsides, such as:
Reduced work/life balance
It’s more challenging to train new sales reps
Increased distractions from kids and house chores
An increased sense of isolation due to reduced camaraderie with colleagues
Managing a Remote Sales Team Efficiently
Let’s now look at how, as a sales manager, you can efficiently and effectively handle your remote sales team from afar and meet your business goals.
1. Establish Clear Expectations – and Communicate Them
Set expectations that encourage your sales team to strive for higher performance. Clear sales targets set performance standards and outline specific tasks, enabling your team to feel engaged and motivates them to do their best.
They also make your team accountable, allowing you to provide relevant support and motivation. Come up with guidelines that spell out the sales objectives, systems and procedures, and effective time management tips. Such could entail:
How to look for leads
How to deal with objections
How and when to follow-up on prospects
How to close deals and onboard new customers
2. Build Trust
Building trusting relationships is a bit of a challenge with remote teams due to the lack of physical interactions. To make communication less challenging, you need to:
Avoid micro-managing your sales team
Schedule regular group calls to enable your team members to catch up, share success stories, address challenges, and brainstorm
Respond quickly when your team members have questions or are experiencing difficulties
Track your sales team’s activities and progress through a shared dashboard to ensure they complete assigned tasks and close deals
3. Avail Relevant Resources
Leverage shared resources like cloud-based storage systems to allow your team members to log in securely, share, and view data. Such systems make it possible for sales reps to access company data on the go from their mobile devices or at home. They can also update records in real-time from any location.
Make sure to use tools that provide secure access to company documents and resources and encourage the use of chat tools for regular check-ins.
4. Simplify Sales Processes
Setting up clear and straightforward processes is vital to your remote sales team’s success. It also makes it easier for you to manage the team. Document sales processes to allow the team to work in a structured manner, know how to respond in specific situations, and minimize the need for constant support.
While you don’t interact physically with your remote sales team, you can stay connected by keeping all communication channels open. Follow the above tips to support your remote team, keep them engaged, and you’ll reap the benefits of outstanding performance.
The ongoing global pandemic is a remote workers boom. Sharing workspaces with children home from school requires a tough balancing act. But, despite this shortcoming, 59% of workers say that would like to extend their work-from-home schedule.
86% of workers say that they are more productive working remotely since they experience fewer interruptions than they do when working centrally. That said, there is an immense need to extend remote work comfort levels via technology. Over 50.6% of remote workers have had their productivity challenged by factors such as virtual meeting snafus.
39.6% of these employees cite virtual meeting communication problems as a major pickle. Artificial intelligence meeting assistants like Aira, for instance, can make the unproductive zoom meeting dilemma a thing of the past. Below are some of the tips that will help you work more efficiently.
1. Hold regular productive meetings
One major drawback of working from home is the severed physical connection between workers. Over 70% of remote workers say that fostering healthy relationships with their peers is as important as their jobs are. The average employee spends over a third of their life at work. That means that relationships between co-workers are a vital component of well-being.
High levels of job satisfaction go hand in hand with relationships and engagement at work. Virtual meetings can help increase engagement and foster relationships amongst work from home workers. You should have regular check-ins and one-on-ones between supervisors and employees to iron out any differences and challenges.
These meetings can tackle problems head-on, encourage creativity, and boost the camaraderie on your team. A one-on-one chat between a manager and his employee is an excellent opportunity to check on the worker’s mental health in the absence of the physical wellness meeting.
Virtual meeting assistant tools such as Aira can simplify the meeting note-taking process by logging into your virtual meeting and taking notes. Aira will free every meeting participant, allowing them to focus on the matters at hand.
She will take meeting notes, transcribe the whole meeting session, and highlight the action items. After the meeting, this handy tool will upload all the notes and transcripts in a central location to encourage follow up, problem-solving, and collaboration.
2. Streamline collaboration channels
While contact is essential between remote workers, disorganized contact can be a distraction. In the office, workers spend a lot of time mulling over non-work issues, lowering productivity. Remote work lessens this form of distraction but opens a can of worms in collaboration.
Your employees could easily miss their tasks and remain out of sync with the business’s objectives because of a lack of feedback and collaboration channels. To keep your co-workers focused on the big issue, have an efficient project management platform in place. It will increase productivity on projects, giving you a bird’s-eye view of the team’s workload.
A robust project management tool will help assign and organize your worker’s projects and tasks. If there is a need to reshuffle the responsibilities, you can do it with the click of a mouse. Have the best platform at hand for seamless time tracking, invoicing, billing, and task list creation.
3. Take a break
A remote worker does not have to deal with exhausting commutes, to and from work. In the absence of the daily commute, the employee lifestyle becomes more flexible, allowing them to lead a healthier life. Unfortunately, the work from home arrangement can wreck the work-life balance of an employee.
While the remote worker is more productive working away from the office, they are also more stressed out. 29% of remote workers say their work-life balance is out of order, while 54% of them feel more stressed. In contrast, 23% of office workers struggle to maintain a healthy work-life balance while 40% of them feel overly stressed.
To lessen the anxiety that accompanies the remote working experience, employees need to learn how to unwind by taking breaks. Data shows that workers that take brief breaks between tasks are less stressed out. Longer breaks will enhance output.
A remote worker should get up from their workstation and take a walk or grab a snack when they free most distracted or strained. Alternatively, they can meditate, or call a friend to ease the tension. Encourage your workers to try out the Pomodoro Technique to enhance productivity through its simple six-step method shown below:
Select a task
Focus on the task for 25 minutes
Have a sheet of paper at hand and put a checkmark on it, after your 25 minutes are up
Go on a five-minute break to wind up a Pomodoro sprint
Repeat this process three more times
Take a long break after four sprints for the rest of your working hours
Employers are embracing the work from home setting and expect three times more work from home arrangements than they had before the COVID-19 pandemic. While news channels love to hype the narrative of struggling parents working from home, the reality supported by data is quite different. Working from home has its perks. The tips above can streamline remote work, increasing its productivity.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Collaborative tools including Google sheets and Google docs
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.
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.
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
Price: iWork 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.
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.
Do you run a productive and successful sales meeting everytime? If your answer is yes, then congratulations! You are one of the few sales professionals who have honed and mastered a skill crucial to selling effectively.
In most organizations, sales meetings waste a salesperson’s time and quite frankly, deliver very little value. While we appreciate that sales teams need to dedicate some of their time to meet their managers, if those meetings aren’t helping the bottom line, they are a waste of time.
A meeting that wastes a salesperson’s time is more likely to demotivate that person. On the other hand, if your sales meetings can deliver value, you will increase your team’s productivity. This is where meeting tools come in. A meeting tool like Aira has built-in analytics, from which you can draw insights into meeting performance. This article, however, is not about meeting tools, but simple behavioral adjustments that once implemented will shape how your salespeople view sales meetings. More on that below.
The secrets of running a successful sales meeting
1. Limit your meeting to one agenda item
You can cover many issues in a meeting agenda. But time is money for salespeople so instead of addressing multiple issues, focus one crucial agenda item. Discussions centered around one area has several advantages:
You can dig deep into that issue or topic, and understand it
That item becomes the metric that matters for that week
Your team will remain focused on the subject discussed
2. Send out the meeting agenda way before the meeting date
Do you want your salespeople to be well prepared for your meetings? If yes, make use of your AI meeting assistant to send out the agenda well ahead of time. Make your agenda items actionable.
3. Keep time
Do you want your team to respect your meetings? Do you want to create a sense of urgency throughout the workweek? Then lead by example by sticking to your meeting timelines. Keep time, and you give your salespeople a template of how they should handle their customers’ time.
We also mentioned earlier that time is money. Keeping time tells your salespeople that you value their time.
4. Keep your meetings to under one hour
Another important aspect of time is meeting length. 36% of meeting attendants lose attention when attending any meeting that lasts more than 45 minutes. So, to make the most out of your meeting session,
Divide your meeting time into 3 portions of 15 minutes each
People tend to drift during a meeting if they notice that the meeting items don’t concern them.
Let’s assume you have 4 salespeople, each representing a region. If you want to have productive discussions with them, schedule a meeting with each one. This might seem redundant but look at it this way: whenever someone is giving an update on their region, the other three are likely to check out of the meeting because that region does not affect their performance.
In addition, if there’s an issue that has to do with one person, follow up with that person after the meeting.
6. Encourage discussion
Your salespeople, not you, are the ones facing customers. They are also the ones who have to deal with challenges in the field. So, they want you to hear them as much as you want them to listen to you.
Turn your meeting into a forum for discussion, where issues are tabled, discussed and action taken immediately.
7. Updates do not warrant a meeting
We cannot stress this enough: meetings centered around updates have little to no value to a salesperson. Some things can be addressed on email. Learn to identify such matters so that you don’t hold unnecessary meetings.
8. Recognize and reward performance
There is nothing more motivating for a salesperson (besides the commissions of course), than recognition. Therefore, whenever you hold a meeting, recognize, congratulate and reward your top performers. The following happens when you reward salespeople regularly:
You set the pace for your salespeople every week. Everyone will try to hit their targets so that they can shine during the next meeting
The end result is that you are more likely to hit your monthly target by remaining focused week on week
Your meetings become something that salespeople look forward to attending
9. Turn meetings into a performance improvement platform
As you hold more meetings, you will start to notice performance trends. Some of those trends may indicate areas that need improvement.
You don’t need to wait for your next training workshop to address key performance issues. Instead, use your sales meetings to deliver bite-sized training sessions that will help your teams to start changing their results immediately.
10. Make your sales team feel like a part of the company
Since majority of salespeople spend most of their time in the field, one of the times they get to interact with the company is during meetings. Take it upon yourself to give them a positive experience during these rare moments. They should feel like insiders and know that their contribution is not only appreciated, but also shapes growth. In a word, offer motivation.
There are several ways to do this. For instance, have the company head attend a meeting and reward individuals by name. Or, do something as simple as offering refreshments during meetings.
11. Agree on next steps
You expect your salespeople to leave their customers with clarity on what the next steps will be, right? The same should go for meetings. After every meeting, each person’s responsibility should be very clear. Send meeting notes and action items Immediately after the meeting. You can do this very easily with AIRA.
Yes, improving your sales meetings is as simple as implementing all or some of these 11 points. As you implement these tips,
Ask your team for feedback. A simple question like this will suffice, “Hey, how do you think today’s meeting went and what can we do to improve the next meeting?”
Use AIRA analytics to track meeting performance trends
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?
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;
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.
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
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, 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;
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.
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
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.
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.
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:
Tools for holding meetings are becoming more advanced; more intuitive
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?
Running a successful virtual meeting requires some preparation before, during and after 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:
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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,
Economic uncertainties will always be with us; the thing is, we cannot predict when they will hit us, what shape or form they will come in, or how long they will last. In light of this, the important thing for businesses is to ensure that teams are supported and have the agility to adjust to changing working environments. You need to prepare your team to work remotely, not just now when the world has to grapple with covid19, but in the future as well.
There is a common misconception that remote work is all about conference calls. While video calls and chats are an important part of getting work done remotely, when we talk about finding tools to support remote teams, we have to look beyond conferencing. Supporting remote working is about team empowerment, and to do this, your company needs to create a tech stack that guarantees team efficiency and effectiveness regardless of their location. Your team needs to feel confident that they don’t have to be office-bound to deliver on business objectives.
In this article, we have compiled a list of 10 ai technology tools that will help your team stay organized, increase efficiency and collaborate better while working remotely.
Slack is best known for its “channel” approach to managing communication.
The thinking behind channels is that when running projects, it can be difficult to track communication, attachments, and tasks via email. Slack seeks to solve this problem through channels that bring teams together around a common purpose.
Slack organizes work based on projects, topic, or team. This way, anyone in your organization can find how to best contribute by being a part of a channel that supports their role.
The great thing about slack is that it can also incorporate external teams, fostering collaboration with your partners.
Other features include:
You can communicate with team members directly on the channel and get instant alignment
Save and search messages and files on slack
Save time by getting all people in one place
Achieve business-critical tasks such as: setting budgets, see budget approval, work on projects, etc.
More transparency through public channels, or increased security through private channels
Pin messages or documents that you want to call attention to
Star channels that are important to you
Integrate with other workplace tools like google drive or one drive. You can also connect to CRM tools like JIRA, Salesforce, Zendesk or own software so that you never miss important alerts and notifications
Work on the go with slack on mobile
Enterprise grid: contact the sales team
2. Microsoft Teams
Microsoft teams help teams to not only communicate instantly while working but also reduce email clutter.
Microsoft Teams is a remote work tool that combines powerful communication capabilities of chat, voice and video, with collaboration capabilities such as document storage and office 365 integration. It can also integrate with third-party software through extensions, making it a must-have for enterprises or large teams.
Record meetings for future reference and to keep absent members in the loop
Pause recordings to answer questions
Allow teams to join from anywhere
For educational institutions, create a virtual classroom and bring all assignments and files in one place, to collaborate virtually in real-time
Have one on one meetings or meet as a group
Keep your team connected in the following ways:
Use the chat, to have “water cooler” talks with colleagues.
Brainstorm on Microsoft whiteboard
Have team building through virtual coffees
Have fun, encourage teamwork and reward performance through teams
Microsoft teams free: $0
Microsoft 365 business basic: $5/user/mo
Microsoft 365 business standard: $12.50/user/mo
Office 365 E3: $20/user/mo
Zoom is a chat, audio and video conferencing app that has become almost synonymous with remote working. It allows people to communicate by joining a zoom meeting or zoom room. Zoom room refers to hardware that allows you to convert your conference rooms to a zoom-meeting.
Despite zoom’s popularity, incidents of “zoom bombing” have raised concerns regarding its level of security particularly for teams that need to safeguard their work. However, as team Zoom maintains that it offers AES 256-bit GCM encryption, you should contact them before purchase, to ensure that their security protocols are aligned to your organization’s requirements.
Zoom has the following features:
You can use chat during meetings without interrupting others
Hold meetings with large groups of people without compromising call quality
Record calls and distributes recordings after your meetings
Integrate with your calendar and CRM. Zoom also integrates with slack
Control your meetings with host options
Stream live on Facebook and YouTube and other proprietary software
Get meeting analytics
Business: $19.99 /mo/host
Enterprise: contact sales
4. Google Calendar
Google Calendar is a calendar, task organizer, appointment setting, and meeting scheduling tool all wrapped in one. It simplifies time management by helping individuals and teams to keep busy days organized. To use google calendar, you need a google account (Gmail address).
Google Calendar has the following features:
It allows you to have a remote meeting through google hangouts
If you want to know what you have scheduled on specific days, type, or voice search “what’s my calendar” on google search. The results are private
You can sync your personal and work calendars into google calendar to get a holistic view of your day
Add colleagues’ calendars to your google calendar to enable you to organize meetings with teams. Note: you’ll need to as your colleagues’ permission before you add their calendars.
Share attachments when scheduling events
Set event reminders and notifications
Use drag and drop function to schedule meetings in no time at all
Automatically schedule events straight from your email
Track projects by adding and monitoring tasks and sub-tasks
Send daily agenda via email
Embed your calendar into your website so that your clients can book meetings with you
Google calendar can also integrate with most meeting tools including zoom, Aira, Slack, among others. You can also sync your google calendar into your iPhone calendar by enabling that function in your phone settings.
Meeting management can be quite tricky without an intelligent tool like AIRA. This state of the art AI technology meeting assistant:
Records and transcribes meetings
Highlight keywords in meeting notes to make tracking action items and topics easier. Teams can search for notes and action items based on keywords.
Organizes actions points and automatically emails them
If you have scheduling conflicts, Aira will join meetings for you
AIRA syncs with popular calendars like google calendar
Has intelligent analytics that allows you to improve future meetings and drive organizational performance
Pricing: Contact team Aira for pricing and demo
Internal systems, intranets, and printouts do not work when it comes to managing projects remotely. Remote project management is best accomplished with a tool like Asana, whose features enable teams to stay organized, communicate and get aligned.
The transition to remote work can create silos, but Asana’s design ensures that teams work and collaborate transparently.
Asana has the following capabilities that make remote project management easy and enjoyable:
Get an entire view of project timelines, to keep you on schedule for each task in real-time
Easily identify problems in task scheduling and fix dependency conflicts at project start
Give everyone visibility to get easier buy-in
Adjust aspects of the project as you go and keep everyone appraised of such changes
Import spreadsheets into asana to make project tracking simpler
Manage team workload to ensure everyone remains productive
Manage new project requests through forms, to avoid getting overwhelmed
Enterprise: Contact the team
Trello is also a great project management tool and is a great addition for teams that handle lots of internal projects, such as a software creation company. Agencies that need to work with external clients could also make their work easier with Trello, as they can give visibility of projects to their clients.
One great thing about Trello is its Kanban-based approach to project management, whereby task organization falls under lists, cards and boards.
If you are an agency or run a consultancy, you can create a Trello board, where customers can track progress in areas of interest to them.
Simply create a board and invite a team to collaborate
Add details to Trello cards, such as attachments, comments or due dates
View at a glance, progress on all your tasks
Automate to eliminate tedious tasks
Sync across all devices so your teams work from anywhere
Integrate with the tools that your team already uses
Business-class: $9.99 per user/month
Enterprise: $17.50 per user/month, on a sliding scale.
Remote work can result in diminished support for your customers.
Hubspot is a CRM software that will come in handy when you need to ensure that your customers are being contacted and given the support they need. Through HubSpot, you can create a log of your interactions with customers at different touchpoints, and in this way:
Address any red flags before they become problems
Pursue opportunities that arise during interactions with customers
With HubSpot, you can ensure that customers barely notice a lack of face to face interaction.
But HubSpot isn’t just a tool for customer support. It has powerful marketing capabilities such as lead scoring, email marketing, ad management, etcetera
You can also manage your sales organization from HubSpot by tracking deal pipelines.
In addition to offering a free subscription, HubSpot offers the following paid subscription options:
If your business model is primarily in-person, or if you have a dedicated customer service function, Zendesk will ensure your customer service team continues to offer uninterrupted support through phone, email, chat and social media.
Zendesk is easy to use and tracks customer queries through a ticketing system.
Other features include:
Analytics to track issue response, logging and resolution
A full sales suite to help your teams’ close deals. The sales suite is supported by live chat, voice, SMS, and automated email sequences that make deal closing easier.
You no doubt have a workflow in your company and to achieve your goals, that workflow has to be synergistic. That’s where Unito comes in.
All work processes, including launching a marketing campaign, lead generation, order management, holding meetings, providing customer care, etc., are all one-stop processes. As each of these processes operates within a different function in your organization, you have most likely invested in dedicated tools for each one. This, in itself, could create silos. Silos break down team synergy and transparency.
Unito helps you create complete workflows by interconnecting your various tools. This way, your remote teams can have a smooth flow of information and collaborate transparently with each other.
Business X: $225
Enterprise: Contact the team
Next steps: Explore these ai technology tools
That’s it for now! We urge you to try these tools (some of them have free trial periods that last as long as 2 weeks long), and if you find that they support your way of working, give them a go.
The tools you choose need to support what your company does and how it does it.
Do you, for instance, interact a lot? In that case, you should lean more towards investing in the best communication tools.
Is your company sales oriented? If yes, invest in tools that will empower sales capabilities.