Try to imagine life without timekeeping. An impossible task, inst it? Like Mitch Albom wrote in The Timekeeper, man measures time and chimes the hour. We live by our calendars, schedule, and appointments. Time is so important that we equate it to money. If you save on time, then you will save money.
Your time equals money because work or productivity takes time. The average startup owner can find himself or herself in a time management fix when trying to balance their business’s management and operations administration needs. The small business owner is quite often the manager, marketer, human resources director, and accountant.
This entrepreneur barely has any time to breathe let alone grow in their passion. To make better use of time, young business owners need to hire assistants. Unfortunately, a dedicated full-time assistant is a luxury that few small businesses can afford.
Nevertheless, virtual assistants (VA) are available online that can help in business time management. The rise of the VA has gained traction, with countries that have high levels of English literacy like India and the Philippines forming the core of the VA industry.
Who is a virtual assistant?
The virtual assistant can be human or artificial intelligence (AI) technology-based. Both the digital human and AI work in design, marketing, social media management, and other spheres of business, providing easy to access support to businesses in different niches. The VA industry is so crucial to business operations that according to Gartner Research, 25% of all digital workers will need VAs daily by 2021 up from a low of 2% in 2019.
This research shows that virtual employee assistant use is rampant in the financial, insurance, IT, and customer service sectors. Virtual AI assistants like Alexa by Amazon or MIKA from Nokia assist in the delegation of tasks, scheduling, diagnosing problems, or the performance of complex tasks. One area though that any business can apply the time-saving skills of the VA is in the writing of the best meeting minutes.
Digital minute meeting assistants can dial in into your meetings, organize, and perform minute writing tasks that enhance collaboration between meeting attendees and that save on your time as well. Virtual minute writing assistants like AIRA can also step into your meeting, record, and transcribe it to ensure that every precious point stays accessible for your business needs.
AIRA will save you a lot of time during the pre-meeting, meeting, and post-meeting phases by scheduling meetings on your behalf. She will also inform all your members about the meeting and create specific meeting notes. She will also synchronize your meetings via Google Mail or Microsoft 365, and integrate with customer relationship management platforms like Zapier.
Besides attending all your virtual meetings, AIRA will also provide meeting analytics to help you optimize your meetings and other business processes.
How to write minutes using a virtual assistant
A great VA is a fantastic planner. They help businesses to prepare for the unpredictable situation, reducing their client’s distress. A skilled VA will take charge of the tasks that you delegate to them to help you focus on the challenges that need your attention the most. VAs have top-notch communication and listening skills. They are great multi-taskers, mastering the art batching that minimizes repetitive switching of tasks, saves time, and improves focus. The use of VAs in the workplace does not only encourage constructive engagement but increases productivity as well.
A VA’s skills can especially shine in meetings. Like many business owners, you probably have had multiple déjà vu moments during meetings when a meeting’s agenda begins to go south. The attendees are sick of the lack of productivity in the meetings that take too long to wind up! You are perhaps on the verge of giving up on meetings (if only you could) but you cannot because meetings can help uphold and attain your business’s objectives and goals.
A skilled VA that knows how to write minutes can turn this situation around. They can help you solve some of the major problems that make your meetings unproductive and lengthy. If you are prepping for that huge, meeting and you have too much on your hand hire a fantastic virtual assistant and delegate the meeting’s responsibility to them.
The skilled VA will ensure that you have a stress-free meeting and make those painful meeting moments a thing of the past. Below are some of the challenges that hound business meetings and the writing of minutes and ways that your VA can help you to overcome them.
1. Lack of preparation
The biggest challenge that hinders productivity and engagement in meetings is a lack of preparation. There are many instances where invites are sent for attendance, but these notifications do not communicate the reason for the meeting. For this reason, most people attend meetings without a clue as to what their contribution is.
They also do not know what the agenda for discussion is. The result of such poor meeting preparation is commotion during discussions. The attendees will become bored with the inertia and time wastage. You cannot rescue an ill-prepared meeting from going up in smoke, once it has commenced. If you are the chairperson, you will lose control of the meeting and will end up looking incompetent to your employees or subordinates.
Simon Sinek says that a leader has to help people understand how to perform certain actions by themselves and how to succeed beyond their imagination. The work of a leader, Sinek says is not to do all the work for other people.
Consequently, as a leader you should delegate some of the pre-meeting preparation work to your VA and take a supervisory role to ensure that their preparations exceed all expectations. Your virtual assistant can, for instance, perform meeting preparation tasks such as;
- Scheduling of the meeting
- Contacting, engaging and coordinating the meeting’s speakers
- Making travel, catering and accommodation arrangements
- Researching the agenda
- Proofreading all meeting documents
- Preparing all presentations and send out materials
These preparations will ensure that the meeting has a clear purpose. Preparation lifts the fog over the meeting and allows its attendees a glimpse into what the meeting leader, supervisor, group director, or project manager has in mind through the tabling of an agenda.
This phase helps attendees also to determine which tasks or contributions are necessary for the meeting. Your VA should, therefore, communicate the purpose and the expected outcome of the meeting articulately.
2. Too long a meeting
When attendees show up unprepared to a meeting, there will be a lot of time-wasting during the agenda discussion phase. To eliminate this challenge, your VA should ensure that all topics up for discussion have allocated time to for timekeeping purposes. The moment an important topic has been discussed, the meeting should move on to other critical matters.
All questions should be availed before the meeting starts so that answers are prepared beforehand to prevent an occurrence of extra meetings over the same agenda. One of the most important tasks that your VA should perform during meetings writing minutes and recording the meeting. Your VA should;
- Write minutes proficiently to ensure that they do communicate with the reader
- Use speed writing or shorthand for speed. They should have all the abbreviations prepared beforehand
- Use word processing or templates to categorize and archive all details and action items to save on time and enhance the organization
- Use recording or transcribing apps to capture each detail of the meeting and upload the information to a secure storage platform as advised
- Summarize discussions and avoid dictation
- Listen in carefully, understand the topics to capture clear action items
- Monitoring topics in discussion and ensuring that all topics are discussed as per schedule
- Managing the operations of meeting tools and technology
3. Post meeting challenges
The task of a virtual assistant goes beyond preparation and minute writing. These special assistants know how to write minutes and handle other post meeting challenges. Some of their after the meeting tasks include;
- Proofread the minutes taken and share them with the attendees via the available platforms such as email
- Manage any other tasks assigned
- Follow up with meeting correspondence
- Furnish you with complete expense reports and reimbursement records
A virtual assistant that knows how to write minutes can do all the tasks above and more. VAs can save a lot of time of money when hired for basic administration tasks such as research, email management, receptionist duties, calendar scheduling, or file organization. These digital humans can create reports, or perform web and technology-based tasks such as blog moderation or monitoring of your business rivals in social and industry channels.
They will run your social media accounts, webinars, and perform research tasks such as SEO, influencer, and expert search for content marketing strategies. A virtual assistant for your minute writing tasks is also a cheaper alternative to a full-time personal assistant. A VA will change the way your business runs its meetings and ensure that your meetings are objective, rewarding, and engaging.