How to Conduct a Productive Online Meeting

How to Conduct a Productive Online Meeting

Effective communication is the key to keeping clients and partners happy. Fortunately, groundbreaking technological innovations have occurred in the past decade, allowing us to communicate seamlessly with people located far and near without the need to meet physically.  Online meeting capabilities are an invaluable asset today, especially when you want to work from home or when you can’t travel to attend a meeting.

With the right digital tools, anyone can effortlessly schedule, plan, structure, manage and conduct virtual meetings with customers, clients, partners, employees, and bosses. With the correct approach, you’ll just be as involved, engaged, and productive as you are in in-person meetings. However, running an effective online meeting requires adequate preparation. Here’s how to go about it.

Pick the Right Platform

The first step you should take is choosing an ideal online meeting tool. There is a broad array of virtual programs out there. Some are meant for social connections, some for enterprise meetings, while others are a blend of the two. Typically, the right tool should allow you to set up and host a virtual meeting, invite a number of participants, and share your screen.

More advanced tools may enable you to share files, chat with participants, and record the meeting. The tool you pick will depend on the capabilities you want and the objectives of your meeting. After selecting a platform, test the system to check whether the camera, microphone, and features such as the multi-participant capability work. Testing and knowing how to operate it will save you time and embarrassments during the actual meeting.

Have a Clear and Well-Communicated Agenda

We’ve all been through meetings that had no clear agenda and seen how the conversation quickly loses track. When the purpose of the meeting is vague, the participants will definitely get confused, become less engaged, and lose sight of the important issues. Setting an agenda and notifying everyone allows each individual to come to the meeting adequately prepared, and to be on the same page. When crafting an agenda, make sure you:

  • Set the key talking points.
  • Request input from those who will attend the meeting.
  • Ensure the topics are relevant to the participants you have invited.
  • Assemble the relevant documents or research concerning the agenda.
  • Appoint a meeting moderator to bring order and control proceedings.
  • Locate time for last-minute questions, comments, and other additions.
  • Notify everyone of the items they should have, e.g., headphones, collar mic, pen, and notebook.

Prepare Your Space

How you prepare your space will make or break the success of the meeting. For official meetings, you don’t want your pets, your kids or phone competing for your attention. Such interruptions not only affect you, but they throw the whole meeting off course. To avoid such mishaps, remove anything that could cause distractions, tell everyone at home you are having a meeting, and lock the door of the room you will use. Make sure the space you use is clutter-free, quiet, has ample lighting, and has a clear background.

Apart from organizing your space, you also need to adopt virtual meeting etiquette. These include being neat and presentable, maintaining eye contact with the camera, limiting body movements, speaking clearly and concisely, refraining from snacking during the meeting, and avoiding performing other tasks such as opening emails. You should also mute your phone, turn off all notifications on the device you are using, and avoid rustling papers.

Go Slow and Steady

Virtual meetings should have a slower pace than in-person meetings. Most systems take around 3 seconds to communicate, and this lag can cause problems to the participants when you proceed to speak in the normal space. Make sure there are sufficient pauses after you finish a statement and ask questions. Pausing gives the participants the opportunity to seek clarification or ask questions without interrupting you.

Recap Before You’re Done

Before concluding the meeting, briefly go over the main points. If participants have been allocated duties, let every person recap what action item he/she is responsible for, and the time frame for delivering it. This phase provides clarity, reminds everyone what they are supposed to do, and ensures accountability.  When the meeting is over, share your notes with all participants to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Bottom Line

Although holding a virtual meeting has been made easier thanks to technological breakthroughs, you need to make adequate preparations if you want to have a fruitful meeting. Start by acquiring the right virtual meeting program, set an agenda, and prepare your space. With the right approach, your clients, partners, and boss will definitely be impressed.

If you are looking to digitally transform your business and expand your reach and communication capabilities, AE Technology Group will help you achieve your goals!

How Technology Has Affected the Modern Workplace

How Technology Has Affected the Modern Workplace

Throughout history, technology has continuously modified the way employees across every industry do their work. Not long ago, companies were in the mess of numerous paperwork. Heavy expenses were incurred so as to reach customers, memos had to be released and posted on notice boards, as well as numerous meetings in rooms.

Nevertheless, technology has changed all of this and made work more comfortable. You now stand a chance to work in the comfort of your home effectively. Here are some of the ways in which technology has reshaped the modern workplace. 

1. Speed and Efficiency

Technology has made it possible for you to work faster and become more fruitful when working from home. Using modern software systems not only motivates you to do more work but also do a clean job. Unlike in the past, when you had to do a lot of paperwork, completing a task is now just a click away. 

Technology has streamlined how fast a certain task will be completed. It has become easy to track down how your colleagues are working and bring out better results together. Therefore, the ability to bring out fast and efficient results lies on the screen in front of you. 

2. Better Team Collaboration

Technology has dramatically changed the way people used to communicate. Smartphones, chat apps, and social networking sites have taken communication to another level. This makes it easy to get in touch with your colleagues and deliberate on how you can continue being more productive. 

Technology has also made it easier for managers to track the progress of every employee. This keeps every worker on their toes and ensures that all work is efficiently done and thus more output. Holding meetings has also become easy due to teleconferencing. This saves you not only time but also the extra expenses that would have been used to commute to the office.

3. Reduced Risk of Security Breaches

Initially stealing essential and sensitive information from a company was easy, but now with technology, it has almost become impossible to get such information. This is because proper security measures brought about by technology have been put in place.  

Technology has also made it possible for every employees’ conversations to be tracked. This ensures that no security breach is caused by any of your colleagues. When your company is secure, you also become secure in terms of your job. 

4. Effective Cost Management

Every company’s goal is to increase profitability as well as the quality of services offered. Now that technology has made working from home easy and effective, the overall expenses of the company have reduced. Manual handling of tasks has been eliminated and more efficient ways have been put in place

The use of computers while working from home helps you to get more accurate results, unlike when you had to do a lot of paperwork. Once accuracy has been achieved, there is an easy retrieval of information anytime it is needed. Besides, the work that could have been done by several people is easily done by one person in the comfort of their home. This helps to reduce many expenses in your company while achieving more profits. 

5. Keeps The Business Fully Organized

Technology makes it possible for the business to be well organized. When working from home, updating your progress and achievements on your company’s online data records brings out clear and clean work, unlike when using paperwork. This makes it possible to easily trace and know how well you are faring in line with the requirements of the company. 

Not only are you able to keep track of what you are doing, but also track how your collaborative workmates are doing too. This helps you to make comparisons and improve where necessary, thus increasing your productivity. 

6. Difficulty Detaching from Work

Working from home can be very enjoyable, especially now that we are living in a modern world. If not well planned, you may meet yourself working overtime and making it hard to break off from work. This becomes possible due to the beauty of working with modern tools, but it can bring about negative results when not carefully observed. 

In as much as you can do a lot of work when working from home, setting working hours and keenly following them is very crucial. This is because overworking leads to burnout and then, in turn, low productivity. Making sure that you take breaks from work is very vital and ends up increasing your productivity.

Technology has, therefore, made working from home not only possible but also effective and very fruitful. To learn more about this, feel free to contact us today.

Streamlining Collaboration: Microsoft Teams vs. Slack

Streamlining Collaboration: Microsoft Teams vs. Slack

Teamwork may make the dream work, but choosing the right collaborative software for your business can be a nightmare without the right information! AE Technology Group is here to help. Microsoft Teams and Slack are two excellent options for the growing corporate technology sphere. Explore the benefits of each prior to selecting the ideal collaboration platform.

Teams

Microsoft Teams is a specialized powerhouse that creates efficiency through streamlining processes and communications. This platform is great for interdepartmental collaboration. 

Get Integrated with Office 365 

If an all-in-one technology solution is vital to your business, utilizing the full range of Office 365products revolutionizes project management and strategic staffing. Teams is a tried and true product that integrates with Word, Excel, Access, and many more. First line employees will benefit most from the ease of managing schedules, projects, and communicating flawlessly between departments with instant messaging. 

Information at a Glance

Teams is typically considered the most user friendly option when it comes to a secure communication system for businesses. The program requires little to know input as far as set up costs, training, and troubleshooting. Better still, Teams allows users to view activity, deadlines, productivity, and data by simply clicking on the dashboard. Small businesses especially may wish to opt for the convenience and simplicity the app provides. Teams is also the more budget friendly option for lean and mean results.

Slack

When it comes to integrated technology solutions, Slack is the O.G. of business communications. Slack predates Teams and offers a broader, more comprehensive structure that allows companies the freedom to create and explore.

Third-Party Integration, First Rate Results

If your business doesn’t use Office 365, Slack may be the better option as this app integrates with a collective of third-party apps and programs. This gives companies the ability to pick and choose which software works best for complex functions that may not be supported by traditional Office applications.

Investing in the Future

Rapidly growing industries that anticipate changes within the next few years should take the opportunity to invest in Slack. Not only will Slack withstand the test of time, but switching to different third-party apps while keeping the same IM system and collaborative network is easy. Office may become obsolete or unable to keep up with the demands of a changing enterprise. Unless your company is certain to be operating with Office for at least the next several years, you’re better off going with Slack.

Looking for more technology breakthroughs? Check out Office 365 vs. G Suite Google and contact our IT experts today to get started.

Office 365 vs. Office 2019 for Business

Office 365 vs. Office 2019 for Business
Office 365

Microsoft is an essential part of many business’ operations. Businesses rely on Microsoft Word for their word processing needs, Excel for spreadsheets and PowerPoint for presentations. The cloud has become an integral part of Microsoft’s offerings, and this had led the company to offer two different versions of Microsoft Office: 

  1. Office 365
  2. Office 2019

 Each version can be used for business, but which is ideal?

Office 365: Cloud-based

Office 365 is cloud-based, so you pay for a subscription either monthly or yearly. Cloud-based, Microsoft worries about updates, infrastructure and security. You or your employees simply log into Office on your web browser and can make Word documents, spreadsheets or any other file under the Office suite of products.

What’s nice about Office 365 is that it can be accessed anywhere on any Internet-connected device.

You can work on a document in the office, go home, and then work on the document some more. Automatic saving makes the process streamlined. Office 365 for business comes with the following office applications:

  • Access (only on PC)
  • Excel
  • Outlook
  • PowerPoint
  • Word

All versions come with OneDrive, but the higher version comes with a few extras:

  • Exchange
  • SharePoint
  • Teams

You will receive a desktop version of Office applications with Office 365. The maximum number of users on the business plan is 300, so everyone in the office can have access to Office 365.

Office 2019: Standalone Version

Office 2019 is a standalone product, so it’s a one-time purchase. You won’t have to pay subscription fees, but you won’t have the benefit of online collaboration on the cloud. Licenses are valid for one PC or Mac, and fully-installed versions will include the following:

  • Excel
  • OneNote
  • Outlook
  • PowerPoint
  • Word

You’ll need to update Office 2019, and all of your files will be stored on your computer or server. A disaster recovery plan should be in place when using the standalone version of Office 2019, or you risk losing your data if your hard drive fails, you get a virus, or data becomes corrupted.

Which Office is Best for Your Business?

If you don’t have the budget for Office 365, Office 2019 may be the best option. In most other cases, Office 365 will offer the most flexibility. Not only does Office 365 come with its own version for your PC or Mac, but it will also offer:

  • Regular updates from Microsoft (you never need to upgrade)
  • Cloud-based data storage
  • Ease of collaboration for larger teams
  • Linking directly to files in the cloud
  • Access to all applications on multiple devices

Office 2019 will need to be updated when Office 2020 is released, but you can continue using Office 2019 for as long as you wish.

Contact us today to develop an Office 365 solution for your small- or medium-sized business.

New Features in Microsoft Teams – Shifts and More

New Features in Microsoft Teams - Shifts and More
Microsoft Teams

As technology advances, organizations find they can plan more, direct more and execute more because they have more relevant and timely information, thus allowing them to better decisions. As part of the trend of providing more effective and efficient ways to relay information, Microsoft has expanded multiple features within their Microsoft Teams app. Features that promise to connect the right people with the right information, at just the right time.

Shifts

Not every group of employees works together in a close environment. In many cases, staff members are spread out across the local landscape or perhaps even the globe, as in the case of flight crew members. Regardless of the physical location of their employees, shift coordinators need an intelligent mechanism that allows them to plan and coordinate work schedules, which in turn enables seamless delivery of services and/or products to their customer base. With the Teams app Shift tool, managers can easily create, keep track of and update an entire work schedule, thus ensuring that even employees disbursed all over the globe, know where they need to be and when they need to be there.

Updating Made Easy

Especially when employees work out in the field, they need features that will allow them to connect to and update other members of the group who made not be physically nearby. For mobile users, Microsoft’s Team app has a location sharing feature, allowing managers to keep tabs on their employees, as well as allowing employees to verify they are where they say they are. Workers can easily snap and upload photos of work-related issues and share with others, thereby garnering additional insight for problem-solving. They can also immediately text or share their comments by voice, or they can record audio or video messages for viewing at a later date.

Integrate With Current Systems

Microsoft understands that moving an entire organization over to new software takes time. That’s why they created a Graph API that enables organizations to seamlessly integrate their current workforce management system with the new features of their Teams app.

Give Recognition 

Lastly, Microsoft’s Team app allow managers and others to send out praise and recognition to individual employees, as well as project groups for a job well done. For those who often work independently, managers can use Microsoft’s Praise tool within the app, thereby helping employees in the field understand their employer truly appreciates all their hard work.

If you would like to know more about the Teams app and how it can help organize and coordinate your company’s team efforts, please contact us.