Using technology to make meetings more productive

The workplace meeting presents numerous challenges for managers and employees. A successful meeting depends on everyone having access to important files, all stakeholders being present and, ultimately, the discussion being productive in terms of goal setting.

Fortunately, advances in technology mean that there are new tools available to make meetings easier to facilitate, more engaging and open. If you want to use technology to maximize the impact of your meetings, here are a few ideas.

Video calls and web conferencing

If any of your attendees working from home, working in another office or even another country, they can still contribute through video calls or web conferencing. Free tools like Skype, or paid-for software like GoToMeeting or WebEx, allow you to see each other and also share presentations or anything else on your screen – which can make an otherwise difficult meeting much easier.

Use enterprise social networks

Many businesses use enterprise social networks like Yammer and SocialCast, both of which are specifically designed to foster workplace sharing and encourage internal communication. Instead of saving the notes from your meeting in a Word document on a single computer, why not post the details as bullet points in your team’s Yammer or SocialCast group, so that everybody can access the key action points?

Services like Basecamp even allow you to create virtual to-do lists and tag members, thereby ensuring that everybody present at the meeting knows what they need to do for the week ahead.

Install interactive projectors

There’s nothing more frustrating than somebody in a team meeting possessing a master copy of a file on their laptop or computer and nobody else being able to access it. Luckily, advances in projection technology mean there are devices available which will make sharing files in meetings far easier, and the whole process more engaging.

Companies like Casio, Epson and Optoma manufacture interactive projectors, which not only display files for everyone to see, but actually allow team members to engage with the document by touch, functioning in a similar way to interactive whiteboards. That means the group will be able to edit documents and presentations together!

Use your smartphone…productively!

Smartphones can be a distraction in meetings, but if used right they can be a valuable tool. Personal assistants like Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana can assist you with your calendar and issue pre-set reminders. If you’re concerned you might forget items from your to-do list, then why not upload them to your smartphone – and get your virtual assistant to give you an alert when the task needs to be done?

As technology continues to evolve, more ways to improve meetings will emerge. Share any of your tips in the comments below.