Nobody likes meetings and it turns out that most meetings are costing our businesses both in terms of 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 has shone a new light on meetings, with many businesses working from home. However, we’re still hearing many of the same complaints, despite a majority of meetings 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.
So with that less than pretty picture in mind, and following a webinar in which our Business Development Manager Tom spoke about the changing nature of meetings, we thought best to share some of the ways we think technology can be used to help make your meetings more productive.
Five ways to use technology to make your meetings more productive.
Introduce instant messengers to reduce the number of questions on a topic.
Businesses can be reluctant to introduce instant messaging software into their workplace as they worry it can become a distraction to employees, that will use the tool to discuss anything but work. Conversely though, if used correctly, instant messengers can actually make employees more productive and can be used to reduce the time spent in meetings.
Instant messengers are perfect for asking quick questions that may not be relevant to everyone at a meeting. They can be utilised to replace question and answer sessions and because they’re online, the answers can be stored and referred back to whenever necessary. This cuts down the need for further questions or future meetings to discuss topics that have already been covered.
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 would mean someone standing at the front, dictating to the room. After several minutes of this, attendees would often switch off and stop paying attention, which ultimately leads to time being wasted.
By using channel features on software such as Microsoft Teams, leaders can share this information electronically 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 or manner, and discuss it with others prior to the meeting. This will make the meeting either obsolete, saving time, or allow attendees time within the meeting itself to discuss how best to use the shared information.
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 when people are clamouring for face-to-face meetings again.
By utilising a mobile phone or tablet, meeting attendees can remain effective without the need to travel to and from a set location to join a meeting. There’s a lot of good collaboration apps available right now, that means above and beyond video calling, you can share documents and give presentations over 4G data. This can allow people to join meetings effectively whilst in different locations, making it easier for businesses to arrange meetings across a number or busy calendars.
Integrate multiple technologies to get the most out of the technology you use.
When using technology within your business, you should also look at how different platforms integrate with others. Integrations are connections between two different technologies. For example, you might integrate your accounting software with your expenses software so that expenses are shown on the balance sheet in real time.
Here at Acronyms, we’re big users of Microsoft Teams, which integrates your entire Office 365 suite into your team environment. This means that when we’re on a virtual meeting, we can quickly use software such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint at the same time. This, in turn, makes our meetings more productive, as we’re not waiting for someone to move between multiple pieces of software, whilst the other attendees lose focus.
Make the most of your calendar.
Most people use their calendar when scheduling 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.
In Microsoft Outlook, which is one of the most commonly used calendars across businesses, you can categorise meetings, get assistance with juggling time zones, set reminders and easily create a virtual meeting with joining links and instructions, straight from the invite. You can also share calendars and enable the ability to collaborate on calendars together, allowing teams the opportunity to schedule meetings at a time convenient for all.