If you regularly attend business meetings, you probably feel that some are more productive than others. No one enjoys meetings that seem to (or do) drag on for hours, and lose sight of the planned agenda along the way. Fortunately, there are several good tools and technologies available to help make your next meeting or conference time-saving, rather than time-wasting, and even interesting and entertaining for attendees.
Why Traditional Meetings and Conference Calls do not Succeed
If you are scheduled to attend an afternoon conference call with a client or off-site business partner, you and your associates are probably planning to meet via phone. The conference call, a classic communication method in the business world, is often a frustrating experience. Lines are dropped, people hit the mute button, and there are long pauses and frequent disruptions due to lack of visibility and distorted social cues. Adding to the physical constraints of conference calls is the awkward discussion between participants on either end of the line about who is going to pay for the call. Many companies identify finances, or lack of, as a primary concern when scheduling meetings. They may cut calls short to avoid paying for the extra time, or end up in a dispute with those on the other end about handling the cost of each call. Then, there are the distractions caused by people in the room, including typing on noisy keyboards and flipping through paper documents, folders, and files trying to sort through piles of documents.
Benefits of Technology in the Meeting Room
Chances are good that you use multiple channels of technology, such as mobile devices, the internet, and other tools, nearly every day. You might think that there is a time and place for fun devices, but the office is not one of them. However, quite the opposite is true. Social media sites and applications can be distracting, but they can also be valuable in helping to make many aspects of doing business much easier and more productive by facilitating web-based sales, increasing a company’s presence and visibility on the internet, and making presentations and seminars more interactive. These tools can also help make meetings more focused by engaging participants, encouraging dialogue, and keeping the central focus on the task at hand.
The Right Tools for the Job
Fortunately, many technology companies have heeded the call of frustrated corporate workers, and have created solutions to those very problems. Not being able to see the people on the end of the other line during a call leaves you guessing what the speakers look like, which is in itself a distraction. But invisibility also creates confusion over who is talking and when, and eliminates valuable social cues, which enable natural conversation and dialogue. Tools like the versatile UberConference app for conference calling can solve this problem by incorporating social media into the conference call. With UberConference, conference participants on both ends of the line can post pictures and social profiles to get to know each other, which solves the problem of deciding who should speak and when, and lets participants see one another. Furthermore, UberConference allows you to make FREE conference calls, which is a win-win scenario for everyone. In addition to visibility, organization is another key ingredient to making meetings productive and successful. Apps like Evernote and Box allow you to store, retrieve, and share documents before, during, and after the meeting. Having immediate access to your files helps everyone stay focused and on task. The Livescribe 3 is a fun and innovative tool that lets meeting attendees leave their noisy keyboards at the door and take notes the old-fashioned way, on paper. However, there is nothing old-fashioned about the Livescribe 3. It looks like a pen, and functions like one, but comes equipped with integrated software that stores the notes you write on a special piece of paper in a tiny microchip. After the meeting, you can sync the Livescribe 3’s chip to your computer, and upload the notes from the meeting on your own laptop or PC. Alternatively, if you are racing out the door after your meeting or conference call, you can make use of the Livescribe+ app, which lets you upload your notes to your iPad or iPhone instead. Tablets such as the Samsung Galaxy Note are also good alternatives for note-taking during a session, and are much quieter, smaller, and less distracting than laptops.
With the advent of technology, business woes are becoming a concern of the past. Web apps and handy devices, such as UberConference and Livescribe 3, alleviate the common concerns of invisibility, financial concerns, and distractions caused by meeting participants. Once shunned by CEOs and executives, technology certainly has a place in the business world, and can go a long way in improving your future meetings and conference calls.
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