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 to Find Balance Between Productivity vs. Security and Compliance

How to Find Balance Between Productivity vs. Security and Compliance
However, in order for each one of them to work successfully, business owners must find common ground between each of them.

The truth is productivity, security, and compliance are all important to your business. However, in order for each one of them to work successfully, business owners must find common ground between each of them. More importantly, it’s imperative to define how each of them apply to your business needs too. On the one hand, you’re business is always trying to meet the demands of higher productivity and then on the other hand, security and compliance become just as important.

How does your business find a way to balance their goals of productivity, security, and governance? 

How To Balance Productivity, Security & Compliance 

Your business may define productivity as producing 500 units one week and then 800 the next. It’s obvious your level of productivity has increased. Your business was more productive in the second week than in the first, right? For a service provider, your productivity is defined by the number of customers your business is able to serve. However, today, productivity means giving your employees the flexibility of doing their job which could mean logging into your network from a mobile device, but this opens the door for exploitation by hackers. So, how do you continue to balance productivity, security, and compliance? The experts suggests; “a professional blend of management, resources, and strategy.” 

The need for productivity has created a demand for device compatibility, new workforce benefits, new technology, and vendors that have access to your network information. This has created IT obstacles that have never existed before which insights the need for a balance between productivity, security, and compliance. In fact, it may be harder for small business to keep up with the demands of all three, but here’s how your business can find the perfect balance: 

Choose To Be Adaptive & Context-Aware 

Stop asking users to authentic themselves and take the matter into your own hands. For example, when a user is logging into your network, background authentication checks like: are they using the same device, has their number recently been ported or are they logging on from a geographical location are all safety and compliance measures that can help you form the perfect balance between productivity too when met with the right tools. Your governance rules may be more stringent with a administrator who can change your system configurations or your finance staff who can access sensitive data over employees with less privileges. 

Think Technically “Smart” 

Why give your employees access to more of your network than what they need to do their job? The best balance between productivity and security is the least-privilege rule. Never give your employees access to more than what they need to avoid a security risk, but with the ability to still remain productive. For instance, any data that users upload to the cloud should be encrypted or blocking any downloads from a bring-your-own device (BYOD). 

Utilize Adoption & User Experience

Users absolutely hate things that get in their way. For instance, complex password requirements and hardware tokens feels like it is enabling their work which impacts their productivity. However, there are proven technologies that will streamline and improve the user experience while protecting your security. Use single-on features that don’t require a key fob, adaptive authentication (that remembers their device and log-on pattern), or even go passwordless. 

Bottom line: How do you balance productivity, security, and compliance? Identify the most profitable balance between the three along with what works best for your employees and for your business. 

You’re invited to contact us at the AE Technology Group for more details on balancing your productivity, security, and compliance. We’re you IT support and managed services professionals. Together, we’ll focus on the productivity of your team while protecting your business security and keeping you fined tuned with the current compliance standards. 

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.

Computer Tip of the Day – Using Yahoo Mail for Business

Yahoo Mail for Business
Yahoo Mail for Business

Do you use Yahoo Mail to stay in touch with your friends, acquaintances, or business contacts? Yahoo Mail, although not as popular as Gmail, is still a great method of communication. Here are some useful tips and tricks for using Yahoo Mail.

Delete All Mail At Once

If you want to organize your inbox after not doing so for a while, you may have hundreds of emails to delete. Unfortunately, with Yahoo Mail, you can only select 50 emails at a time. This can be frustrating, but there is a workaround. Just click on the “search” button at the search tab at the top of the page without typing in any search term into the bar. You can choose to search through all of your emails or through emails in a specific inbox. As long as you leave the search bar blank when you click “search,” all emails will appear, not just 50.

Forward Your Mail

What if people send emails to your Yahoo address but you’d rather read them in another email account? Simple: Just forward your mail to that account. Go to Yahoo Mail’s Settings menu and click on Options. Click on your email address and then click on Forward. You can then type in the email address you’d like your Yahoo Mail to be forwarded to (a verification link will be sent to that address).

Create a Mailing List

If you have a number of contacts you want to add to a specific list so that you can send emails to all of them at once, just go to Contacts and click on the Assign to Lists option. Of course, you have to create the list first, which you can do in the Contacts menu. This is useful when you want to send something to several employees at once. 

For more computer and IT help, contact us today. 

Productivity Tip Of The Day: Getting More Work Done

Productivity Tip Of The Day: Getting More Work Done

Productivity Tip

You are only given so many hours in the day to get your daily work completed, so it is important that you are able to make the most of the time you are given at work.

If you find yourself becoming distracted daily by various websites, files that are not organized, and an email inbox that is always full, we want you to consider these productivity tips so you can manage your time better and so you can remain as productive and effective as possible.

How Much Work Are You Completing?

One of the things we would encourage you to do is track how much work you are completing on a daily basis. There are various extensions that you are able to download that will record the websites that you frequent the most. You can also track how much time you are not at your computer.

Running the browser extension or the mobile app will provide you with information about your productivity. If you discover that you are not spending as much time on your work as you should be, you will be more likely to make the needed adjustments on how your time is managed.

If you and your co-workers are spending too much time on social media or other websites that are holding you back from remaining productive, it may be a wise idea to block access to those websites.

If it is not a problem for employees to take breaks and use social media during the day, there are applications and browser extensions that will allow workers to access those websites, but the time will be restricted.

Become Clutter-Free

One of the best ways for you to increase your productivity and your output is by deleting files and folders you no longer need, uninstalling programs you are no longer going to use, and effectively organizing your documents into folders that you label. This will make it much easier for you to find your work, and this will also improve the performance on your computer.

When it comes to your email inbox, you will be able to prioritize your messages based on the importance. Once you filter out the messages that are not important, you will finally have an inbox that is clutter-free and spam-free.

These are only a few things you can do in order to remain productive on a daily basis.

If you are looking for more ideas on how you can get more out of your technology and remain productive, please do not hesitate to contact us today.