Make Meetings More Productive Using Technology
Many businesses wish to make their meetings more productive, as a large number of meetings are costing our businesses both time and money. In 2019 a study found that poorly organised meetings cost UK businesses $58 billion, whilst 72% of UK respondents said they lost time as a result of poorly organised meetings.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the introduction of remote working shone new light on the need to make meetings more productive. Yet despite this, we’re still hearing many of the same complaints about a lack of productivity stemming from poorly organised meetings, despite a larger number of them now being conducted remotely. People get fed up with meetings that run overtime. They dislike attendees multi-tasking or being unprepared, and they find that amongst having too many meetings, many people find it difficult to schedule meetings at a time that is convenient for everyone. Whatever people’s complaints, there appears to be a common agreement, that businesses need to make meetings more productive, and we believe that technology can be the solution.
Five ways to make your meetings more productive using technology.
Introduce instant messengers to reduce the number of questions on a topic.
Businesses can sometimes be reluctant to introduce instant messaging software into their workplace as they worry that it can become a distraction to employees, who will use the tool to discuss anything but work. Conversely though, if used correctly, these tools shouldn’t hamper productivity but actually make your teams more productive, as they reduce the number of meetings required, and the time spent in meetings too.
This is because instant messengers are perfect for asking questions that may not be relevant to everyone at a meeting. They can be utilised to replace question and answer sessions too, and because instant messengers are online, the answers are stored and can be referred back to whenever necessary. This inevitably cuts down the need for further questions or additional meetings to discuss topics that have already been covered.
Whilst many companies will now utilise software such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom as a result of the pandemic, some can be reluctant to message colleagues through fear of being distracting, or being perceived as a nuisance. Whilst too much virtual discussion can certainly hinder productivity, if encouraged in a positive manner, can be an effective way of discussing items without the need to drag multiple team members away from their day job. We’d recommend actively encouraging your staff to engage with one another in this manner, and as a result, we believe you’ll see a difference in the output from your subsequent meetings.
Use online channels to share larger pieces of information.
A primary function of many meetings is to convey large pieces of information to a group of people. Traditionally this means that someone stands at the front of a room and dictates to all those attending. These meetings tend to be far from productive as just several minutes of this attendees would often switch off and stop paying attention, which ultimately leads to time being wasted, and the intended message being missed entirely.
By using channels or groups on software such as Microsoft Teams or Slack leaders can share this information in advance of meetings, in a dedicated area specific to that topic or group of people. This allows people the opportunity to digest the information in their own time, and discuss it with others prior to the meeting. What’s more, you can present the information in a manner that best suits those receiving it, or the type of information you’re passing on. For example, graphics may be the best way to explain complicated data sets and by sharing them in advance, you can ensure that people have the chance to view and engage with them, before becoming board by some speaking to a room for minutes on end.
By approaching these types of meetings in this manner will either make the meetings obsolete, saving time, or allow attendees within the meeting time to discuss the information or ask questions. As a result, you should get more from the meeting as everyone is working actively on that topic, increasing the productivity of the meeting overall, as opposed to the more traditional sense in which all but one or two attendees are passive and rarely engaged with the meeting at all. Not only will technology make the meeting more productive in this instance, but as your staff will have engaged with the information in a more efficient manner, their productivity should also improve.
Remember you can use your smartphone or tablet to interact with meetings from afar.
Much of the software embraced during the COVID-19 pandemic can easily be used on small, personal devices such as mobile phones and tablets, and this shouldn’t be forgotten as we emerge from this pandemic and face-to-face meetings become more regular again. This access to meetings, whilst on the move, can ensure meetings remain productive even when people are on the move and out of the office, particular as cancelled meetings are one of the primary frustrations people have with meetings.
By utilising technology in this way and attending meetings virtually when on the move, not just when working remotely, attendees can remain productive, without impeding upon the productivity of their colleagues. As a result of the global pandemic, there are a lot of very good collaboration tools available right now, which means beyond just video calling your staff can share documents and deliver presentations over 4G or 5G internet connections.
By utilising mobile phones, tablets and tools that enable staff to attend meetings when out and about makes it easier for businesses to arrange meetings effectively. As calendar space appears to be becoming more sparse enabling your staff to work in this manner will ultimately make meetings more effective for your business.
Integrate multiple technologies to get the most out of the technology you use.
When using technology within your business one of the most effective ways of increasing productivity is by seeing how the various platforms and pieces of software you use every day can integrate with one another. Integrations are connections between two different technologies. For example, you might integrate your accounting software with your expenses software so that expenses are shown in your balance sheet in real-time.
Here at Acronyms, we’re big users of Microsoft Teams, which integrates your entire Microsoft 365 suite into your team environment. This means that when we’re on a virtual meeting, we can quickly such software such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint at the same time. This in turn improves the productivity of our meetings as we don’t have to wait for someone to move between multiple pieces of software, which other attendees lose focus.
As well as integrating with other pieces of Microsoft software, Microsoft Teams can further enhance the productivity of your meetings, by integrating with a wide range of third party services and apps. This includes a wide range of different integrations that can help with many different things such as project management, social media, providing tutorials and much more. These apps are all designed to put multiple services in one place, which mean your meetings can be based around one core virtual place, as opposed to multiple.
Make the most of your calendar.
Most people already use their calendar to schedule meetings, but are you making the most of it? Are you giving attendees all the information that they require? Could you be offering them something more? We know that many people get frustrated with meetings due to the lack of participant preparation and tardiness, so make the most of your calendar to fix these issues and increase the productivity of your meetings. Simply using the calendar entry to write down an agenda can have a huge impact!
In Microsoft Outlook, which is one of the most used calendars for many businesses, you can categorise meetings, get assistance with juggling time zones, set reminders and easily create virtual meetings with joining links and instructions, straight from the invite. There are plenty of features to explore, that when used can make individuals and entire teams more effective. For example, did you know you can share calendars and enable the ability for multiple parties to collaborate on the same calendar, that helps teams schedule meetings at a time that’s convenient for all.