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Improve the productivity of your meetings with digital tools

Meetings form a large part of our working time and are usually held face-to-face, although the telephone, chat and video technology are also used. It’s becoming increasingly common to hold meetings digitally as new working methods and tools have emerged. But are the meetings we hold effective? According to an Atlassian article entitled You waste a lot of time at work, this is not really the case.

There are a number of simple steps you can take in order to make your and your colleagues’ meetings more effective. To begin with, you’ll receive five general tips for creating and holding more effective meetings. We’ll then present a series of digital tools that will improve the efficiency, quality and impact of your meetings.

1. Make sure each meeting has an objective
If your meeting doesn’t have a set objective, there’s a big possibility it’ll tail off in the wrong direction or may even need to be repeated within a short period. It could also result in the participants perceiving the meeting to be a waste of time. So set an objective for your meeting – to ensure you actually achieve its purpose – before sending an invitation.

2. Use an agenda
An agenda is linked to the objective of the meeting. Its purpose is to ensure participants remain focused on the matters being discussed. An agenda is also an effective way of ensuring participants are well prepared, and should be sent out in good time before the meeting. This ensures they know what topics will be discussed and whether they need to prepare anything.

3. Record meeting notes or minutes
As the participant of a meeting, you have a responsibility to be focused and engaged. Nevertheless, it can be easy to forget what has been said and decided once the meeting is over. This is why it’s a good idea to keep a record of the items discussed. If there is a clear agenda, this can also be used when recording the notes of the meeting. If, due to the nature of the meeting, it’s important to record the notes and objective in writing, formal minutes may be drawn up. Bear in mind there may be people who are unable to take part in the meeting who could be interested in obtaining the notes.

4. Conclude the meeting with a summary
At the end of the meeting, it’s important to summarise the notes recorded and ensure everyone agrees that what has been noted down corresponds with their understanding of what was discussed as well as the decisions made.

5. Duration of meeting
A meeting should not take too long. In a test carried out by Microsoft in its office in Japan, meetings were limited to a maximum duration of 30 minutes in order to assess the impact this had on efficiency. The test proved to be a major success, and increased the efficiency of employees by 40 percent. This is a clear indication that shorter meetings make it easier to stick to the agenda, ensuring attendees don’t get sidetracked and discuss other matters.

How can digital tools improve meetings?
While the content and purpose of meetings are the same whether they're digital or physical, digital tools provide excellent opportunities to improve the efficiency, quality and impact of the meeting. In a post entitled The state of the modern meeting, Microsoft says it’s important for companies and their employees to integrate both digital and physical technology when holding meetings.

Making it easier to book meetings
There are several types of Software as a Service solutions that make it easier to book and plan meetings. Microsoft Outlook enables users to view the calendars of every attendee, allowing you to plan a suitable time for the meeting without the need to contact each person. This saves a lot of time. Participants also get notifications sent to their linked devices before the meeting, with the agenda and venue.

Use digital tools for meeting notes
Using a program like OneNote is one way of recording meeting notes more effectively. It enables all participants to open a shared notebook in which everyone can view the notes and, if required, export them to a suitable format.

An alternative to taking the notes of a video meeting is to record it. This provides the full context and explanations behind items noted or PowerPoint presentations, which the participants can be given after the meeting. It also makes it easier for those who were unable to attend the meeting to follow the discussions.

Video meetings allow more participants
It is becoming increasingly common to hold meetings via video. One of the main benefits is that several people can attend, without the need to travel. Surveys show that 25 percent of all meetings already have at least one person attending via video link. Nordlo recommends Microsoft Teams for this purpose, as this is a proven and reliable solution.

Making it easier to share documents
Working digitally makes it easier to share documents and work with them in real-time during meetings. This means documents don’t have to be sent around and revised, which can otherwise take up a lot of time. There’s also a risk that different copies can easily be created, which is avoided if everyone works with the same document.

Use digital boards
Digital boards make it easy to share and draw ideas, sketches and anything else you want to illustrate. These can be shared in real-time among all participants so that everyone has the opportunity to view and write on the board – even if they're not attending in person.

Improve participation with digital response systems
In cases where you need to know what participants think about a certain issue during a meeting, using a tool like Mentimeter can be the way forward. This allows people to use their devices in order to answer questions and provide input. The administrator of the tool can then either present the results right away or gather them in to be processed later. In addition to collecting information, this is also a way of increasing engagement during the meeting itself.

As you can see, there are many different types of digital tools that can make your meetings more efficient. Want to know more about how to hold more effective meetings? Get in touch so we can carry out an analysis of what your company needs.

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