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remote work

10 Productivity Software You Should Start Using Now

productivity software

How do you know you are being productive? Is it:

  • When you are getting work done?
  • When your life is organized?
  • When meetings and other collaborative projects are progressing without a hitch?

If you identify with any of the above, you know that Productivity is not a concept unique to the workplace but is also important to aspects of your personal life.

In this article, we will look at 10 productivity software that will help you to become more productive in your work and personal life. these apps will help you do the following:

  • Create better workflows
  • Work smarter by e. g, automating repetitive tasks
  • Become more organized by for example managing your inbox
  • Hold efficient meetings. Example, by automating note taking and minute taking with AIRA
  • Achieve your goals: for example
  • Time savings
  • Finish your project in time
  • Perform better at work so that you can get promoted
  • Eliminate distractions
  • Improve work output, e.g, revenue

Read on below to learn about tools you can use to start being productive starting now.

10 Productivity Software to Try Out:

1. Dragon Naturally Speaking

dragon

Dictating can sometimes be easier than typing, especially if you’ve been working at your desk endlessly. The longer you type, the more your speed dwindles, your accuracy goes down, you become fidgety and eventually lose focus. Thankfully, Dragon naturally speaking allows you to switch to your new tempo of work by dictating to your device. This ensures you can keep working instead of abandoning your project because of fatigue.

The different editions that the software comes in make it an ideal tool for working on topics from practically any industry. For instance, the dragon home is ideal for dictating general content. There’s also dragon legal, dragon law enforcement, among others.

At $150, dragon naturally speaking maybe a little on the costly side, but it really is value for money, considering it’s very accurate.

Price

Dragon Home: $150

Other editions: Contact Nuance team

2. AIRA

Aira

Business cannot be conducted without meetings. A lot of times though, meetings can waste time if:

  • They take too long
  • Minute and note taking are done manually
  • They are disorderly
  • Agenda items are not clear
  • They are irrelevant to attendees

That is where Aira comes in. Aira is an ai meeting assistant that creates efficiency in meetings by automating:

  • Minute taking
  • Meeting scheduling (including checking for meeting overlaps)
  • Following up on action items
  • Document sharing and storage

Aira analytics tracks meeting performance. In addition, the keywords feature helps attendees and other team members to scan through meeting notes quicker and find what is relevant to them.

Pricingcontact team Aira

3. Evernote

evernote

Note-taking is an essential part of most professionals’ and students’ lives. That’s why Evernote makes this list. Whatever the nature of your project, you can use Evernote to

  • Jot down ideas
  • Curate content during the research phase of your work

Evernote records written audio or image content. You can also sketch with the app or upload PDFs. The app not only searches your saved content by word, but also by image. This means that any search will return the corresponding text and image content that you have saved. With the paid subscriptions, you can also search PDFs.

Although Evernote is mostly for boosting personal productivity, you can also use it to collaborate on projects that involve note sharing and editing.

Pricing

Basic: Free

Premium: $7.99/month

Business: $14.99/user/month

4. IFTTT

ifttt

There are simply too many things going on in our daily work and personal lives, that you cannot keep track of all of them. But, fear not, because IFTTT (If this, then that), can automatically update you whenever things that you’re interested in, happen, either online, or locally on your devices.

For instance, if you need to keep track of brand activities on Facebook, you can tell IFTTT “if someone mentions my brand online, then email me their comments. “

Although you may consider some tasks as mundane, they still contribute to your overall success. IFTTT is really good at handling mundane tasks. For instance, sending meeting reminders is a time consuming, mundane task. But attending meetings is important. So, let IFTTT handle your reminders while you do other productive work.

PricingContact the sales team

5. Sane Box

sane box

Email organization is a key part of productivity. It’s quite likely that most of the emails you receive aren’t all-important. Even if they are, they aren’t all high priority. That’s where the Sane Box comes in. Sane box organizes your mailbox by automatically moving unimportant emails from your inbox into new folders.

Sane box decides on email importance levels in the following ways:

  • All emails from contacts that aren’t in your address book are treated as cold calls
  • It learns. You have to give sane box feedback so that in future, it knows how to treat the emails you receive

If you usually get lots of emails daily, this is one app to try out.

Pricing

Snack: $59/year

Lunch: $99/year

Dinner: $299/year

6. Strict Workflow

strict workflow

Focus (or lack of it), is a key issue for most people. A lot of people out there (perhaps including you) cannot work on a project for extended periods of time. For some, this focus period can be as short as a few minutes. That is why the Pomodoro technique was invented. So that for 25 minutes, you can focus on nothing, but work, and you only get to rest for a few minutes once your 25 minutes are up.

Strict workflow enforces the Pomodoro technique. Say you need to work on your project for 4 hours, what you do is divide that time into 25-minute sessions. This increases productivity because it’s a reward-based system. That is, work then claim your reward.

The strict workflow works as a browser plugin.

PricingFree

7. X1 Search

x1

Some people are tidy. They know their files and folders by name date and number (okay, maybe a bit of an exaggeration there), but you get the point. Some people can find everything on their laptop quite easily.

But, if you struggle with the personal organization on your computer, you might need a tool like X1 Search. It’s a tool that finds files in your document folders, archives, mailboxes, calendars, SharePoint.

Although in the end, we’d recommend a tool that helps you tidy up your desktop, in the meantime, use X1 search to easily navigate through your messy storage system.

Pricing

Free: 14 day trial period

Single user: $96/license

Enterprise: Contact the team

8. G Suite for business

GSuite

It’s not always possible to be at your desk working on your desktop. But you’ll always have your phone on you. That’s why G Suite is every android phone owner’s dream come true. Whether you’re on your commute, on a business trip or just relaxing on the couch, you can use G Suite to continue working on your projects.

Some important features in G Suite include:

  • Video and audio conferencing
  • Gmail
  • Collaborative tools including Google sheets and Google docs
  • Shared calendars
  • Autosave and auto-sync

G Suite pricing starts at $6/person monthly. But if you are on the move a lot, it is well worth your while because your teams don’t need to be grounded when not in the office.

Pricing

Basic: $6/user/month

Business: $12/user/month

Enterprise: $25/user/month

9. Prezi

Prezi

A lot of professionals often have to put on elaborate presentations for their customers, but they don’t like the process of putting together a slide deck.

  • For one, standard presentations take too long to complete
  • In addition, a standard slide deck just doesn’t capture ideas so well because the formats just don’t seem to fit

If you have the same problem, you should give Prezi a go.

With Prezi, you can work on your projects on a digital whiteboard. Then, you film the content on the board and record a film of that content. You can also choose from a wide variety of templates to suit your presentation requirements.

Pricing

Free: 14-day trial

Standard: $5/month

Plus: $15/month

Premium: $59/month

10. Apple iWork

iWork

iWork is to Mac OS users what Gsuite is to Android users. The app allows anyone with an iPad or iPhone to keep working on the go. iWork does that with the following features:

  • A document editor
  • A spreadsheet tool
  • For creating presentations

PriceiWork is free and can work as an app on your iPhone. If you have an iCloud account, you can also use the web app for free.

Conclusion

These tools are just a small percentage of all the productivity tools available online. We encourage you to try them out to address any personal and work productivity issues you may have. Most of them have a trial period, so, make use of that to get better acquainted with the apps before paying.

11 Secrets To A Successful Sales Meeting Unleashed

successful sales meeting

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

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,

5.     Make meetings relevant and pertinent

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

recognize and reward

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.


Conclusion

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

That’s it! Happy meeting!

How to Extract Meeting Minutes from Your Zoom Meetings with AIRA

extract zoom meeting minutes

The whole world seems to be on a Zoom meeting at the moment. The popular video conferencing app has now racked up a 300 million daily meeting participant volume. This massive amount of users throng the app for its awesome features.

The rise of Zoom has even sparked off an internet troll phenomenon known as Zoombombing. Zoombombers prowl the highways and byways of public Zoom meetings, bombing meeting participants with inappropriate content.

The cloud-based video conferencing tool is very popular with small, large, and medium-sized businesses. On it, users can have a continuity of their daily workflows and keep in touch. All of Zoom’s amazing features are designed for the business meeting.

Through them, work from home employees can have one-on-one meetings on the app’s free plan or host large meetings with 500 participants on paid plans.

Users can also screen share for collaboration and record all Zoom calls as video. It is, therefore, quite unfortunate that most of the app’s users have to use old paper and pen to jot down Zoom meeting notes.

The savvy meeting leader can, however, use AI meeting assistant technology tools like Aira instead. Aira is powered by artificial intelligence technology and can automatically join your meetings, transcribe them, take meeting notes, and share with all meeting participants at the end of the meeting.


 

Why should extract Zoom meeting minutes with Aira?

extract meeting minutes with aira

Some Zoom meeting leaders do try to take down notes from their laptops or computers while on Zoom meetings. If you have tried this process, you know how arduous a task it is, if you must have your camera on during the meeting.

If your meeting guidelines, however, allow cameras to stay off during the meeting (which is quite rare), you can switch off your laptop’s camera, listen in and type in your notes. Just juggle between listening in, staying engaged, and contributing to the meeting’s deliberations. This is not an easy task, and you will often lose your concentration and become less productive during the meeting.

Some other minute writing option procedures during Zoom meetings include;

  1. Opening a Zoom window and utilizing a note-taking app on the other side of your screen for minute taking. With both apps open at the same time, you can quickly click back and forth between each app as you listen take your notes. You, however, will have the disadvantage of a half-sized Zoom window.
  2. Have access to two monitors and connect them to your computer. Use one monitor to run your Zoom meeting interface. And use the other for your minute taking app. You can also use your tablet, phone, or laptop screens to set this configuration up. Use one screen for the video conferencing app and use the other for minute taking
  3. Learn your keyboard commands and use them to switch between your Zoom app and minute taking window. This option will keep your Zoom app full screen.

These methods might get the job done, but you will have to face the meeting minute taking challenges of a lack of concentration and fatigue.

You will also have to keep fighting off the urge to record every word verbatim and simply summarize the key facts. Meetings do not always follow the agenda and topics, and side issues will often come in distracting the minute-taking process.


 

How to extract your meeting’s notes with Aira?

Aira

Aira, the voice AI platform, is the best Zoom meeting minute taking alternative. She will not only take minutes but will save them on one location for ease of access.

Aira is such a perfect meeting assistant that she can attend your meeting and take notes on your behalf when you are held up elsewhere. She is the perfect complementary tool for Zoom’s recorded video function.

If you have a paid Zoom account and Aira, you can sync all your Zoom cloud recordings into Aira. With this, you’ll get automatic extraction of meeting notes through her robust AI voice transcription feature. Zoom Pro, Business, and Enterprise allow meeting leaders to record their calls as videos.

The meeting host can also enable video recordings of meetings by other members in settings so that anyone can record a Zoom meeting.

All videos will either be saved locally or on the cloud in an MP4 video file format. Aira will transcribe the meeting using her Zoom Synch feature. All that you need to do is to set up Aira’s automatic transcription feature before the meeting starts. Simply;

  1. Pre-approve Aira in Zoom marketplace
  2. Allow live streaming in Zoom
  3. Connect Aira to Zoom

 

Conclusion

Taking meeting minutes the old school way on Zoom can be a challenge. Use Aira’s proficient voice transcription feature to take extract minutes automatically from Zoom meetings and recordings.

Resolved – 5 Biggest Challenges of Working from Home

challenges of working from home

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

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

1. Coordination and communication challenges

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

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

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

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

2. Distractions

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

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

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

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

3. Time management

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

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

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

4. Lack of social interaction

social interaction

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

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

5. Technology hiccups

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

Conclusion

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

10 Tips to Run Great Virtual Meetings

virtual meetings

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

Why virtual meetings?

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

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

Benefits of holding virtual meetings include:

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

 


How can you run a great virtual meeting?

great virtual meetings

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

Before the-meeting

1.      Ensure video works

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

2.      Send the meeting agenda in advance

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

  • Think ahead
  • Come up with ideas

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

3.      Set the meeting tone

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

4.      Minimize the number of meetings you hold

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

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

5.      Do your homework

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

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

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

 

During the meeting

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

6.      Let the team get comfortable with each other

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

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

7.      Encourage collaboration

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

This way:

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

8.      Establish meeting rules

For instance:

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

9.      Keep everyone engaged

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

After the meeting

10.   Send meeting notes

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


Conclusion

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

Happy meeting!

What Is The Right Way To Start A Meeting?

right way to start a meeting

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

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

Informing participants of the meeting’s purpose and outcome

Informing meeting participants

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

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

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

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


Empower the meeting participants

empower meeting participants

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

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

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

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

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


Restate your meeting’s ground rules

meeting's ground rules

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

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


Conclusion

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

The Top 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 AI Technology Tools To Make Remote Working Smoother

ai technology

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.

1. Slack

Slack

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

Pricing

Free package

Standard: $6.67

Plus: $12.50

Enterprise grid: contact the sales team

 


2. Microsoft Teams

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.

Key features:

  • 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

Pricing:

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

 


3. Zoom

Zoom

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

Pricing

Basic: free

Pro: $14.99/mo/host

Business: $19.99 /mo/host

Enterprise: contact sales

 


4. Google Calendar

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.

Pricing: free

 


5. Aira

AIRA

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

 


6. Asana

Asana

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

Pricing:

Basic: $0

Premium: $10.99

Business: $24.99

Enterprise: Contact the team

 


7. Trello

Trello

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.

Useful features:

  • 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

Pricing:

Free: $0

Business-class: $9.99 per user/month

Enterprise: $17.50 per user/month, on a sliding scale.

 


8. HubSpot

HubSpot

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.

Pricing:

In addition to offering a free subscription, HubSpot offers the following paid subscription options:

Monthly subscription Starter Professional Enterprise
Marketing hub $40 $800 $3200
Sales hub $40 $400 $1200
Service hub $40 $320 $1200
CMS hub   $240 $900

 


9. Zendesk

Zendesk

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.

Pricing:

Subscription Professional Enterprise
Sales suite $95 $149
Support suite $109 $179

 


10. Unito

unito

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.

Pricing (/month):

Personal: $10

Team: $39

Business: $125

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.

Happy working!

How AI Is Changing the Dynamics of Working Remotely

working remotely

Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson is a risk-taker. He breaks all known business rules and is a force to reckon with in the global commerce. He says “yes” to new ideas, pursuits, and novel concepts and is a prophet as well. In 2018, for instance, he predicted that the work environment as we knew it was about to undergo a seismic shift. 

In his blog post, Branson divined that the five-work, the two-day weekend system would end as the use of technology in the workplace increased. People would find work and play inseparable, mashing it all up in a new way of living. He mentioned that they were embracing flexible working at Virgin, saying that most employees back then were working remotely or wishing that they could.

The ongoing COVID-19 epidemic has been catastrophic for the hotel, airline, and travel industry. Like many airlines in the world, Virgin Atlantic is on the red, forcing its employees to go on weeks of unpaid leave.

His foresight into the virtues of working remotely may not have salvaged his main line of business. Nevertheless, working remotely technology powered by artificial intelligence has become the lifeline for millions of other employees from all parts of the world.


The history of remote work

It is difficult to envision it, but less than two decades ago, remote work was not a possibility. The technology that aids the work-from-anywhere type of flexibility did not exist. Your business partners and colleagues back then would have to reach you via a fax number, pager, or alternative phone number, if you were out of the office.

There were no remote emails, direct messaging, and video conferencing, or texting facilities. The only successful remote worker back then was a customer service assistant or telemarketer working at the minimum wage. Flash forward to 2020, and the coronavirus epidemic has turned most employees to remote workers.

Workers are adjusting to working remotely from home measures, but holding meetings via AI-powered teleconferencing software such as Zoom or Slack. Managers are turning to Trello and ProofHub for their project management needs, and Confluence, Google Drive, or  Microsoft Teams to aid collaboration.

Startups such as Zoom, have become so central to business teleconferencing software needs, that its daily users have spiked by 380% in one year. In the first two months of the year, Zoom has gained 2.2 million new users, a number greater than that the business acquired in the whole of 2019.


How AI is changing the dynamics of working remotely

Image credits: Unsplash.com

The use of artificial intelligence can help employees and employers manage the age of remote work in this time of economic and psychological distress. Machine powered assistance can mitigate the loss of worker productivity and push business back to peak performance.

The use of AI-powered remote work technology and communication tools can help workers displaced from their office setups by the epidemic to adjust to home workspaces. As an illustration, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many front line managers were struggling with unproductivity in the workplace.

As per a Gallup study, bad management was causing a loss of $400 billion worth of revenue from businesses in a year. These managers and their employees have been booted out from the office environment in a dramatic fashion, complicating the managers’ role in managing yield.

The day’s manager must learn how to work remotely first, something all employees were unprepared for. The risk of an increased loss of productivity is, therefore, remarkably high as morale amongst the workforces diminishes amid social isolation and self-distancing measures.

Fortunately, these looming losses can be mitigated via the use of AI-powered working remotely tools. Businesses need to emphasize the use of these tools as managers support employees facing rising home-based and economic pressures. 

AI tools can offer personalized, prioritized recommendations on employee management by tapping into a business’s pool of data. Such measures will help employees increase their productivity and protect their jobs.


The best AI remote tool stack for 2020

The choice of the best working remotely tools for your employees is comparable to the art of hiring the best person for the job. AI tools will streamline operations, structure, and hold your business together, keeping it on the road to maturity.

There are wide varieties of tools out there, which cater to different aspects of remote work. There are for instance AI tools that cater to;

  • Internal communications
  • Business management
  • Hiring
  • Business development
  • Internal communications
  • Communications with vendors and customers
  • Collaboration
  • Remote access


The best AI remote work tools

1. Slack

Slack

Slack is a 100% internal messaging bot that will keep your business’s data within its confines. The AI’s interface is fun to use and very user friendly. Through this app, your managers can initiate projects, deploy new code, hire an employee, finalize a budget, or review contracts.

The Slack bot will enhance reachability and productivity, building up a much-needed sense of togetherness for remote teams. The agile and intuitive app enhances communication by eliminating clutter. The employees can use it to play by sharing gifs, and work sharing codes, links, and files.


2. Zoom

Zoom

Zoom is one of the newest kids on the block in the world of teleconferencing. Businesses have, in the past, relied on other robust applications from Skype, Google, Cisco, and GoToMeeting in the past for video conferencing before Eric Yuan’s Zoom came by. Consequently, everyone thought that Zoom was stepping in into a saturated market.

Yuan, however, had one ace up his sleeve. His bot was enjoyable to use, unlike its buggy code filled opponents. Today Zoom is the most popular business-oriented video meeting app out there. The AI tool has features such as ease of setup, cloud recording, user management, and round the clock support.


3. Aira

Aira

In the meeting room of the future, remote teams will gather, collaborate, and generate ideas with the help of AI-powered tools. These platforms will improve the individual’s experience of the meeting room, making virtual post-it notes, and making idea suggestions.

AIRA is making this future a current reality. She is a virtual AI meeting assistant that will join web conferencing calls, take notes, and highlight all key action points for you. She will also share the meeting notes with all collaborators, ensuring that your focus stays on problem-solving and the conversations at hand. 


4. 1Password

1Password

One of the significant challenges that business entities have faced in the COVID-19 work from home environment is growing cybersecurity issues. Most organizations lack robust security protocols, experience, or technology for safe remote workforces. First, most employees do not know what the best work from home cybersecurity standards are. 

As an illustration, they will use access to public networks without a VPN or save sensitive business data on their gadgets.  Weak or stolen passwords can compromise the safety of the entire organization. 1Password is an AI bot that protects passwords for businesses. The bot stores all passwords in a secure hub and avails analytics on password access and usage.


5. Lattice

Lattice

Lattice is the perfect AI tool for performance management. Through it, you can trail your business’s goal tracking needs via a dedicated dashboard. Your remote employees will also flourish since Lattice has a useful “praise” feature that allows managers and their teams to publicly recognize each other’s efforts.

There are performance appraisals and people management tools that help to create high performing remote work teams while building winning cultures for businesses.


6. Toggl

Toggl

If your business’s employees working remotely are paid by the hour, with Toggl, you will have an effective and reliable time tracking tool. All that users of Toggl need to do is to click the start button to ensure that time spent on any project is well recorded. When they are done with the work, they will click on the bot’s stop button.

Its idle detection and tracking reminders mechanism will keep your workers more productive. It will also provide analytics of downtimes by client or project in an organized format. Toggl ensures that all employees are rewarded appropriately, giving real data about labor.


7. x.ai

The coordination of appointments, schedules, and meetings can be problematic in a remote work setting. Fortunately, AI tools such as x.ai can automate these processes and enhance productivity. The AI assistant tool, also known as Amy or Andrew, will connect with a team’s calendars and coordinate meeting times.

All team members will choose the best scheduled time as Amy’s coordination skills shine. You will find that the x.ai bot is very easy to delegate to and ultra-reliable.


Conclusion

The growing adoption of AI remote working tools is ensuring that employees can work reliably and safely in a changing work environment. They are encouraging a cultural change, transforming employee collaboration as office workers settle to a life away from the office. These tools are keeping teams engaged, driving the human element that employees thrive on.

Through them, team leaders and managers can keep motivating, interacting, and engaging staff compassionately and effectively. The remote working environment is no longer a prophecy for the future, but a working policy for the day, thanks to AI remote work tools.