One could say that meetings have become more of a problem than a solution — organizations spend about 15% of their time in meetings, and those in more senior roles can spend 50% or more of their time meeting with their team members.
This is shocking, considering the fact that many business gurus consider time to be their scarcest resource. When you start to break down the actual hours spent in the board room or on a conference call, it can be a real eye-opener. However, it’s not the time spent in meetings that’s inherently a bad thing—it’s the lack of productivity that poorly run meetings can contribute to that is truly frightening.
It’s estimated that 37% of the time spent in meetings is unproductive, adding nothing of value to the organization or it’s operation. But no fear! Experts have derived a number of strategies and tactics to get productivity and meeting time management back on track. Since many meetings exist digitally, and have saved businesses over a billion dollars in travel expenses, the tools used to schedule, manage, and conduct these meetings have also become increasingly digital.
Below are seven of the best tools around for team leaders and project managers who are hoping to improve their organization’s meeting productivity. Whether meeting in person or solely in the digital realm, these tools can help any group make the most of their meeting time.
Calendly has truly set itself apart as a meeting productivity app to be reckoned with—anyone who has attempted to schedule a meeting with multiple collaborators (all with packed schedules) knows how difficult it can be to lasso everyone into the same place at the same time for a meeting.
This productivity and scheduling tool takes some of that stress away, doing all the hard work after users have shared their availability. It gathers information from meeting participants’ schedules to set the optimal date and time for a gathering. This tool has both free and premium versions, depending on an organization’s particular needs, up to $12 a month.
As an all-in-one project management software, Hive has everything managers need in order to hold a successful and productive meeting. Users can schedule meetings via a built-in email integration, utilize forms to collect meeting topics from their team members, upload agenda documents, and even meet with face-to-face video interaction.
Hive also boasts the impressive ability to integrate with over a thousand other apps, one of which is video conferencing app Zoom! Better yet, Hive ensures that agenda construction is easy with the app’s Notes feature.
Before a meeting, you can share an agenda via Hive Notes, and take notes in real-time during the call itself. After the meeting is complete, you can attach the Note to an email in Hive and send to all meeting participants. You can also easily create a task in Hive and assign to a meeting attendee as a follow-up, and communicate directly on the action card itself. It doesn’t get easier than that.
Among nTask’s variety of useful features is a set of meeting management tools that can benefit anyone from teachers to students leading student organizations to corporate project managers.
With nTask, any meeting planner can invite participants from a single platform, then share an agenda and a meeting plan with attendees. A built-in feature for meeting minutes allows a meeting host to track decisions and other key takeaways from each meeting.
nTask makes follow-ups and recurring meetings a piece of cake, too, and this productivity tool allows meeting attendees to keep track of decisions finalized during any gathering so that it’s easy for all participants to review the meeting’s results. This helps minimize any potential communication issues and outline clear next steps.
Many meeting attendees struggle to make their opinions heard for fear of corporate backlash or judgment from workplace peers. Slido is an innovative solution leading to productive meetings by fostering a more comfortable environment for open communication.
Slido allows meeting attendees to ask questions or share insight from their computers or smartphones during any event. The meeting leader can also utilize polls to engage their audience and teammates. Best of all, users can choose whether or not they’d like their engagement to remain anonymous, opening the door for a more candid and productive discussion.
Video integration also allows video to be viewed directly within Slido, ensuring that everyone can follow along (no matter where they are) while also staying engaged and active in the discussion.
This collaborative word processor is one of the best tools available to jointly take meeting notes and watch them update in real-time. Best of all, Google Docs is completely free to use, along with a suite of other related tools like Google Calendar and Google Forms.
Once the minutes have been recorded, Google Docs’ sharing features make distributing the minutes to attendees and other organization employees a simple task—a couple of clicks is all it takes.
Similarly, meeting leaders may also find that creating an agenda document is beneficial. Not only can other collaborators add their own points of discussion to the agenda prior to each meeting, but sharing this agenda also guarantees that each participant can following along with meeting points during the gathering itself.
Zoom has become one of the most popular video and audio-conferencing tools, for good reason. With Zoom, you can create a recurring digital meeting room, host up to 100 participants for free, and enjoy collaborative features like screen-sharing, a whiteboard, and the opportunity to call in via phone (or just utilize Zoom’s mobile apps for iPhone and Android devices).
Zoom provides HD voice and video for free, and private messages and breakout rooms allow for periods of individual collaboration among team members.
Zoom’s free features are a great place to start and may be sufficient for smaller operations, but other packages start at $14.99 per month per host. Zoom also easily integrates with Hive — just type “/zoom” in a Hive chat and automatically launch a video meeting in-app.
Many fields, particularly in the tech industry, can benefit hugely from some next-level screen-sharing. Luckily, TeamViewer provides just that.
TeamViewer is more than just a screen-sharing tool—it’s an application that introduces users to the world of remote desktop access. Employees can use TeamViewer to access their own office computer while attending a meeting from afar, utilize it during meetings to demonstrate technical details to other attendees, and even navigate a presentation while dictating via video and audio.
Plus, TeamViewer caters specifically to those using the program for meetings by providing both a whiteboard and text chat feature.
So whether meetings are hosted for a passion project or a massive corporate organization, whether they have four attendees or forty, these apps can entirely changing the way that businesses, organizations, and individuals think about productivity.
Productive meetings don’t have to be difficult to host, either, especially when such a wide variety of digital tools exists to foster higher levels of productivity. Those who embrace the growing world of digital meetings and meeting tools will have no trouble saving money, time, and moving forward with bigger and better ideas to push their organization forward.