Inefficiency of meetings is a problem for many companies. Today, effective organizations use a number of different services to keep conferences and meetings purposeful and short.
These include apps that sync across devices, video technology that enables virtual meetings, and file sharing apps. We’ll discuss the benefits of these in optimizing meeting results.
Optimizing Meeting Results: Benefits of Virtual Calls with Video
Virtual video calls help deal with common problems at meetings. For example, the speakers can be hard to identify with conference or voice-only calls, particularly if their voices are similar.
Today’s meeting software eliminates this problem and brings much-needed clarity. Calls become much more productive when you have a visual representation. Another option would be a personal avatar, which shows which user is talking.
1# Text Chat Programs
It always helps to integrate text chat with video. This is possible via a Slack channel or Skype. Albeit representing a more conventional form of communication, these programs have a host of advantages. They enable people to take minutes at meetings and have auxiliary conversations if needed.
It’s possible to discuss less central aspects of a meeting topic without interrupting the main meeting. Two people can clarify project details or schedule a new meeting without bringing it up in the central one.
Confusing records of meetings are no longer an issue when you decide to use a public chat to take the minutes. It can happen that the person keeping the record of the meeting will leave out important information, which then needs to be taken into account at another meeting, and even more time is wasted.
The manager could task a staff member with keeping minutes, while others can supplement their record with relevant details.
Slack is an excellent time management tool that will do away with your cluttered inboxes once and for all. You can use it to schedule meetings, send agendas, and remind staff to attend.
After the meeting is over, Slack can help you follow up on it, keeping track of the agreed targets and goals. The tool is very useful if you’re working remotely because it is applicable for screen sharing and video calls.
2# Web-Based Apps
Apps like Calendly and Zapier make it easy to organize meetings and allow meeting participants to select convenient times without being limited by a single calendar system. Calendly can also process support calls from customers who need help with issues or tutorials.
Cloud-based calendar apps make it easy to schedule meetings and find slots for upcoming deadlines because the time frame is easy for everyone to access. An app like this will also informs users of the starting time of an upcoming meeting. It can include room-based automation to reduce the time spent in the meeting.
Zapier connects virtual meeting and note-taking apps to automate routine tasks and workflows. It also automates calendar bookings. This app can be set up to initiate a video call when the meeting is about to start.
It is activated when someone emails a user the agenda as an attachment before a meeting, alerts them in the text chat program of their choice, and copies the agenda to their Dropbox folder. Imagine how much time this can save!
One that note, you can use simple file sharing apps like Dropbox during a meeting to make files available in your location of choice as they are mentioned. You can drop a link to the file via a Slack channel immediately if needed.
3# Virtual Meetings
The good news about virtual meetings – they are a viable option even for the most basic of facilities. All you need is a reliable internet connection, a webcam (connected to your laptop/monitor or standalone), and audio (through a telephone, a microphone, or computer speakers).
Bigger groups might also need a large television monitor or projection screen. Contrary to popular belief, web conferences utilizing only the necessary technology are the most effective ones. Experts recommend online web-based products like WebEx, Adobe Acrobat Connect, and Microsoft Office Live Meeting.
Always make sure you test internet connectivity prior to the meeting because some video conferencing systems are not compatible. Using a digital video system on one end and an analog system on the other can cause a host of problems.
Sometimes, you will have issues even with digital video systems on both ends if one of them needs to be upgraded.
4# The Beauty of Simplicity
Very basic technology like timers can prevent your meeting from running too long. The duration of a meeting is inversely proportional to its productivity. In the event that the agenda cannot be reconciled with the timer, the latter should take precedence.
To be more flexible, you can set a timer for each item on the agenda. When you have just several minutes per item, the meeting will be maximally productive. This approach ensures that time spent in meetings is time spent on business improvement and work.
5# Hire a Facilitator
Even with web-based technology, a meeting can go off track without a facilitator. Facilitators guide the process and help keep everyone focused on the matter at hand. This also applies to online meetings because poor audio quality, poor video quality, or loss of internet connectivity can lead to miscommunication.
A facilitator’s services go beyond keeping meetings on track. They diagnose how a group works and intervene where necessary. They make meetings more effective. Optimal outcomes are achieved. Of course, meeting attendees remain responsible for the outcome throughout the process.
A facilitator can prove pivotal to the strategic planning of a meeting by assuming a diversity of positions, perspectives, and needs within a group. Facilitators help group members respond to conflict creatively or as would be most suitable in terms of the respective task.
Usually, companies engage facilitators to plan, design, and guide one-time meetings and workshops. Despite that, facilitation can and does add value to long-term processes such as development and change within an organization. These processes can involve group events combining in-person and online participation, augmented by web-based technology.
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Author Bio: Sylvia Peters is a Collaborator for Find A Facilitator and a mother of two. She’s also an expert to bringing the most credible, experienced and personable facilitation to every meeting she attended. In her free time you will find her meditating and making her favorite salad.