Notiv + x.ai: scheduled and captured meetings

Notiv + x.ai integration

The Notiv + x.ai integration enables you to automatically add the Notiv Notetaker to your scheduled meetings

We are pleased to announce that our integration with x.ai allows Notiv users to schedule meetings in one easy click directly from their Notiv account.

How does Notiv work with x.ai?

x.ai is an AI-powered meeting scheduler that syncs with your calendar. After a quick and easy setup process to create some custom preferences suitable to you, you can share a link with your guests and let them pick time slots work into your schedule.

When you use Notiv and x.ai together, any meeting you arrange via your personalized x.ai link will be recorded, transcribed, and captured by Notiv automatically.

How do I enable x.ai scheduling in my Notiv account?

We have tried to make integrating Notiv with x.ai as easy as possible.

Follow the step-by-step instructions on our Notiv + x.ai integration help center article.

 

Meaningful Conversations: 8 Productivity Hacks to Drive Better Meetings

Here are some hacks to bring into your meeting so you can have a more productive conversation and get back some of your precious time 🙂

Team meetings, company-wide meetings, one-on-ones, stand-ups, sprints, retrospectives, workshops, phone calls, teleconferences, coffee catch-ups…. are you exhausted yet? Jumping from one conversation or meeting to the next can be overwhelming and mentally draining! And you haven’t even started the growing list of follow-ups or actions!

Here are some hacks to bring into your meeting so you can have more meaningful conversations and get back some of your precious time 🙂

8 Productivity Meeting hacks for meaningful conversations

  1. Use Time limits
    Research has shown the most effective meetings are no more than 45 minutes in length. However, many a time, conversations get hijacked or turned around and you’re lost in a sea of idle chatter for hours. Our Notiv team surveyed the general population and found that most people spent at least 9 hours in meeting per week! Additionally, a Harvard Business Review article claims some executives spend up to 23 hours per week in a meeting. That’s a lot of time to waste.
  2. Always set an agenda before the meeting
    All your agenda needs to focus on is how long your meeting will be and what topics it will cover. Then all you have to do is stick to it! While you can allow people to add topics or modify the time limit so each person has a voice, it is important to also curate the conversation. For example, points that are not actionable need not be included in the agenda! If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
  3. The Parking Lot Method
    This productivity method ensures your meeting does not go off topic, while assuring participants that their points of discussion will be addressed. Effective use of the parking lot method means that topics not relating to the point being discussed are identified, recorded, and then discussed after agenda topics have been closed (if time remains). It’s best to have someone in charge of keeping the parking lot list, so if time runs out these items can be discussed at the most ideal time.
  4. Stand up for your time
    Many meeting rooms have lush, cushy chairs, coffee, bagels and when you throw in laptops, it’s easy for people to get too comfortable. Having standing meetings can be the best way to make sure people focus on the topic at hand and end the meeting on time. It also stops people from doing unrelated things during a meeting. The result is a focused and attentive team!
  5. Freedom of speech
    We’re not talking about saying whatever you want, but considering opposing opinions can lead to more productive conversations. This balance of thoughts can clear up miscommunications, misunderstandings and lead to better long-term outcomes. That said, you need to manage the more vocal people in the room and make sure everyone has their speaking time respected. After all, you’re having a conversation and not a lecture!
  6. Set a weird time for your meeting
    No, we are not advocating meeting at 2 am. Instead of setting a meeting for 1030, set it for 1006! Believe it or not, but having a seemingly random start time increases the chance of everyone being on time. That way you’re not wasting time waiting on people and you can start the meeting, dead on time!
  7. Recap
    Try as you might, when you have a long meeting, even if it’s one on one, there are going to be points you forget or miss. Therefore, it’s always a good meeting hack to factor in time on the agenda for a debrief. Run through the important decisions made and the action items each member will need to act on.
  8. Take effective notes
    Note taking is one of the most crucial aspects of a meeting. It allows you to recap important points, promotes accountability and can keep you on track. However, it is important to take smart notes. To find out how to take smart notes that can help your team effectively take action, here is a guide I’ve created for you!

Don’t worry if you’re not ready to get Notiv in your meetings – although I assure you, with Notiv, you’ll be able to have more meaningful conversations.

If you’re part of a team, perhaps it’s time to look at ways to improve how you meet! Because, let’s face it. When you meet better, you can drive better client outcomes.

How to Create a Great Agenda That You Will Stick To

Wondering how to write an agenda that you will stick to? In this article, we’ve outlined all the steps you need when creating a great agenda.

When planning to meet, one of the best tips for productivity is to create an agenda. Although an agenda is simply a sequence of topics or tasks that need to be discussed, it helps attendees understand why you are meeting and prepare accurately.

Have you ever been in a meeting that’s run overtime, where people have come unprepared or that was just down-right a waste of your time? Most of us have been in at least one meeting like this and you’re probably still thinking of what a waste of time it was. If we’ve all got this stressor, why haven’t we come up with a solution by now?

The issue might be as simple as introducing a mandatory agenda. An effective agenda can help you solve some of the most frustrating yet common issues with meetings. For example, when you introduce the concept of an agenda for every meeting, you’ll be able to answer the following questions.

–       Is everyone contributing to the meeting?

–       Have the relevant people been included and are there any unnecessary people involved in the meeting?

–       Will you stay on time and end on time?

–       Have you discussed all the points of interest?

–       Have you efficiently followed-up action items and tasks from the last meeting?

We’ve studied hundreds of hours of meetings to help you write an agenda that you’ll stick to.

Effective meeting agenda: Purpose

When planning your agenda or deciding on the agenda topics, it’s important to keep the team’s needs and reason for meeting in clear view. From this, you can decide on the format of the agenda. While your agenda outline and format might be different, it’s important to ensure that they serve the same purpose; an agenda informs your participants of the meeting, what tasks need to be done and their importance.

How to write an agenda:

It is important to create a well-planned and orderly agenda. A disorderly agenda can cause your discussion to go off track, creating unproductive discussion and leading to poor outcomes, discussions or missed insights. Here’s how to write an agenda template you can use for your next meeting.

  • Set the objective of the meeting as the main item of the agenda:
    The objective of the meeting is the main component in an agenda and must be set clearly. The said objective, when communicated to the participants, sets their expectations correctly. We recommend using minimal words and simple language to ensure ease of understanding in no uncertain terms.
  • Inform the participants of the details of the agenda, ahead of time:
    The time, place, date and details of other participants, items to be discussed, and other important pre-meeting details must be communicated to the people attending the meeting via the meeting agenda. It’s also important to send our your agenda well in advance so that participants have enough time to read, revert and prepare accordingly. Last-minute communication usually results in key members being unable to attend or prep and effectively renders your meeting ineffective before it’s even started! Making sure that you craft and disseminate your agenda in a timely manner greatly increases your chances of having a successful meeting. 
  • Ask for input from attendees:
    Every team member or attendee in your meeting will have concerns, questions or points of discussion that must be addressed in the meetings. Including your team in the pre-meeting process will help keep your attendees engaged and focused. This also helps in the creative development process of the project or work you are discussing. Therefore, the next step in creating a great agenda is to allow your attendees  to add items to the agenda. This enriches the overall purpose of your meeting and studies have shown that this involvement motivates participants to engage as their respective concerns will be addressed.
  • Select important topics for discussion ahead of less important ones:
    While it’s crucial to get input from other attendees, it’s equally important for the meeting host to curate the flow of the meeting. Meetings take time and you’re taking time out of your busy schedule to attend. Therefore, you want the most value out of that invested time. That’s why you’ll need to review the agenda again and prioritize important topics that are of immediate concern above the unimportant ones. Always use the Parking Lot method for anything that can be dealt with later. Examples of important topics are ones that affect the entire team, decisions that have a deadline and follow-ups of previously discussed topics.
  • Set it in a questionnaire form:
    Asking a question enables people to have an insight into the topic and know exactly what is being asked of them. It’s been shown that people are more receptive to questions than direct orders. Therefore, by listing items as questions on your agenda, you’ll be able to prepare the team for a thorough discussion and will be able to track where each member stands on the project/topic of concern.
  • Set a time limit for each agenda topic:
    Meetings are notorious for being long, dragged-out timewasters. This can be because the discussion veers of on a tangent, attendees are unprepared or if there are distractions during the meeting. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to set a time limit per topic. When estimating the time limits, you’ll need to take into consideration the length of the entire meeting, scope of the topic, if there are any issues to be resolved and allocate time for solution discussions. By setting a time limit, people are less likely to veer off-topic, attendees stay focused and you’ve created an effective meeting agenda!
  • Propose a process for addressing each agenda item:
    There should be a process that you must adopt to address each item on the agenda list. This increases the effectiveness of the meeting. This includes identifying issues, resolving them, coming up with solutions and more.
  • Identify who is responsible for leading each topic:
    It is not always up to the meeting organiser to lead the discussion on each topic. Usually, other participants are also assigned certain agenda topics for discussion. Sharing this load will help your team stick to the agenda because there is a clear delineation between topics and cultivates a meeting culture. This also ensures that competent voices are heard in the meeting and your team can make informed decisions together!

 

When an agenda is simple, comprehensive and contains the important details, then it becomes very easy to stick to it. The above steps are sure to help you create an effective agenda for your next team meeting!

Master Effective Note Taking Methods in a Day

Effective note-taking methods are important for better information retention, improved outcomes and increased productivity. But effective note-taking skills aren’t as well-utilized as we might think. Here’s how to take good notes at work, school or in private so that you can empower yourself with effective note-taking methods.

“The faintest ink is more powerful than the strongest memory.”

Contrary to popular belief, taking notes is not an outdated process. Converting vast chunks of information into precise action and follow-up notes is an art. Different forms of the note-taking process continue to trend on social media. For example, the recent surge in bullet journaling is not only popular among students but also freelancers and professionals.

Studies have shown that taking notes can improve memory and information retention by 30%! Regardless of your note-taking skills, simply leaving a quick note or ‘breadcrumb’ for yourself can improve your ability to recollect insights. So why aren’t we maximizing this benefit in our normal workdays?

Ideally,your notes should represent a complete and concise outline of the most significant ideas and points during the meeting. Some teams record their meetings and conversations and get them transcribed so that they have an accurate record of all their information. However, the issue with transcribing long conversations is your limited ability to review pages of transcripts. While you don’t need to know what Mark got for Father’s Day, you do want the top 10 decisions, action items and follow-up points from that meeting.

When you take notes, it provides you with an opportunity to highlight key details and points so that you can review these afterwards without having to relive the entire meeting again. Not only is reviewing the full transcript of a meeting a menial task, but it’s also a poor value-for-time task for professionals. That’s why our team not only captures our conversations, we use Notiv as an effective note-taking method that cuts our review process down to minutes yet improves the amount of information retained.

This means that by taking notes, we can effectively act on action items and decisions to drive better business outcomes for our team and clients.

Why you should master effective note-taking methods

We are in the age of technology and most of us have spent the better part of our lives connected to some form of technology. It can be argued that because of technology, our attention spans are shorter than ever.

In 2015, Microsoft published a controversial report claiming that the average individual now had a shorter attention span than a goldfish! While there is some debate over the exact figures, what we can agree on is that the way we consume, use and share information has changed with technology.

In the same study, Microsoft found that:

–         50% of the surveyed people reached for their phone when they had nothing to occupy their minds.

–         67% consumed news via social media.

–         59% felt dependent on the technological devices they used daily.

–         67% used multiple technological devices simultaneously.

According to Statista, over half of the world’s population is online.

Leverage technology to take better notes and drive better outcomes.

With this increasing inter-connectivity, it’s a lot easier to get distracted. All it takes is one ping, beep, ding, or ringtone to undermine your concentration and cause you to miss something important. The whole process creates a busy, yet unproductive lifestyle centered around instant gratification.

As our ability to consume information becomes easier, our capacity for information increases and we start to expect to see instant progress. This is where it’s useful to hone your note-taking skills. Taking notes is a great way to track or schedule the time you spend on a task, while improving your focus, keeping you on track and improves your productivity.

Whether it is your personal life or professional life, effective note-taking methods play a critical role in managing and improving your lifestyle. Let’s dig a little deeper into how these fragments of knowledge can change your life and business.

Taking notes can relieve stress

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by that long list of mental tasks you have for the day? Writing them down on paper can help you organize your cluttered thoughts, reducing stress and improving your focus. When you’re stressed or if your mind is cluttered, it can be easy to forget important tasks, which at work, can mean that your team, project or client suffers a poor outcome.

Your meeting notes help your team to stay aligned

If you’re working in a team, it’s often not enough to just take notes. Those notes need to be in sync across the team or you risk misalignment. By clearly articulating your deadlines, challenges and deadlines, you focus your team, empowering them to efficiently act.

With effective note-taking methods, your notes need not consist of illegible chicken scratches or doodles. Notes are a valuable material that you can share with your co-workers to build a strong arsenal of shared knowledge. Think of the concept of an augmented brain where records of the meeting conversation help your team members to create alignment among team members by providing accurate information. With well-informed team members, you can improve the productivity of your team and deliver better outcomes.

Notes can help shape your conversations

The shared knowledge base of the meeting notes can help organizations move a meeting conversation forward and help you stick to your agenda. If you’ve been taking notes, you can easily support the facilitator in keeping the meeting on track. When you’re able to engage and take effective notes, you are in a perfect position to recognize when the discussion has veered off-topic.

Let’s dig a little deeper into how effective note-taking methods can help you get tangible results and how to develop great note-taking skills.

How to sharpen your note-taking skills

Effective note-taking is not all about recording every word that is speaking, but it is a process through which you crystallize the whole conversation into outcomes. Jot down the major items and bullet points as a list instead of turning the conversation to entire paragraphs and words. Write all the points with the flow without really worrying about grammatical mistakes, and you can revisit the whole document before you send the meeting notes via email.

Note-taking systems

There are 4 main effective note-taking methods that you can master today!

1. The List Method

This form of note-taking involves listening down the information that you exchange indiscriminately. While it does not focus on information processing, it’s a great way to take quick notes because you don’t have to think too much about it. This means of note-taking also necessitates a post-meeting review so pull out relevant and high-level insights.

2. The Outline Method

With this note-taking skill, the core driver is to prioritize the material that you capture. Key ideas go to the left, sub-ideas are indented below and each idea is organized into a hierarchy. This helps you understand how the information you’re discussing fits into the structure and deepens your understanding of the bigger picture.

3. Concept Maps

If relationships between different moving parts are what you’re interested in, a concept map can be an effective note-taking method. At a glance, you’ll be able to understand the inter-dependencies and identify blocks in your current processes. With a concept map, you’ll also be able to move from one topic to another with ease, whilst capturing the different ideas and relationships.

4. The Cornell Note Taking System

Developed by Professor Walter Pauk in the 1950s, the Cornell method is a very specific means of capturing notes, outlining priorities and reviewing information. The format is simple and consists of a header, two columns and a footer.

The Cornell Note-taking System

This method will help you make sense of your notes due to the simple yet specific format.

How to take good notes at work

Pay closer attention to what the speaker says and ask questions

For effective note-taking, it is essential to clarifying questions to articulate speaker points more accurately or to bring an agenda to a close. Listen to the speaker and paraphrase what you hear.

Organize notes in a hierarchy

If you organize notes in various categories or color-code them to make separate topics easier to distinguish and recall. Take some time to review the notes afterwards and ensure that everything captured is accurate.

Focus on noting down the right things

Great meetings result in a shared and clear understanding by each team member and involve actionable steps. While taking notes in the collaborative environments and team meetings, you should focus on:

– Facts (John is the project lead)

– Deadlines (This project should be completed by Sep 30)

– Decisions (The team should be divided into four parts)

– Action plans (The next meeting will be led by the project manager in the next week)

– Q&As (Take notice of the questions brought up during the meeting)

Use technology as your virtual assistant

If you have one-to-one meetings, interviews, focus groups or other meetings that require you to be engaged with the other party instead of taking notes, these strategies can be hard to implement. These are the times when you are engaged in discussion, and while you want to capture what’s being said without missing any essential points, it can also take you away from the conversation. You can capture those insights without putting a laptop-shaped wall between you and your client. We must realize that sometimes, personal connections are far more critical than writing down every single point of interest. If you’re not already using an app to help you capture those notes, record down your thoughts and insights as soon as the meeting is over, while everything is still fresh in your mind.

The next time you are preparing notes, clearly define your goals and think about your environment and then tailor your note-taking plan based on that.

Leveraging technology to take better notes

To effectively take notes, you need to be able to capture information accurately and quickly. However, it’s not always a viable option to be manually taking those notes. Luckily, with the advent of the #voicefirst movement, we can use technology to Meet Better.

While you can master these techniques in a day, consistently taking effective meeting notes is equally important as the skills. This is where a meeting assistant or platform can step in to enhance this process. Leveraging technology for better notes can be as simple as storing notes in an accessible shared space or as integrated as using a meeting intelligence solution that assists you in planning, meeting and reviewing your meeting. This list is not exhaustive. A whole host of note-taking product and team management platforms are available to you. But when it comes to choosing the right product, ask yourself these simple questions.

– Are the outputs of this software clear and actionable for those who were not present at the meeting?

– Are the outputs of this software quickly accessible to all team members?

Bottom line

Taking notes is a critical aspect of managing your personal and professional life. Effective note-taking is a basic skill that you should learn regardless of where in your career you are and what industry you’re in.

How often do you take notes, and what is your favorite strategy for taking notes? Let us know in the comment section below.

Pros and Cons of Working from Home

Managing remote teams

Over the past year, our team at Notiv has upheld our ‘remote-first’ motto and these are some of the lessons we learned, including the working from home pros and cons for employers. A remote team, sometimes called a virtual team, can be lauded as the future of the workplace. One of the lessons we learnt from the Deloitte Millennial Survey is that as technology advances with 4.0 technology, artificial intelligence and increasing globalization, the workforce and how we work will inevitably change to adapt. In this sense, the first step to managing remote teams is adopting and embracing flexibility.

However, the terms ‘remote’ and ‘virtual’ can be used interchangeably but they differ in a few ways.  A Virtual Team comprises of members possessing a varied set of skills who work on a specific set of issues. They may work for different managers and are not usually geographically co-located. This factor though may vary from company to company. Their work is characterized by the ‘dotted line’ reporting and once their work is done or the issue is resolved, they “disperse”. Whereas Remote teams work for a manager directly but they are not co-located, nor are they bounded by skill. An example of a remote team is a field-based sales team, whereas an example of a virtual team is a remote-first start-up like Notiv!

Notiv has always been a ‘remote-first’ team, we first launched in 2018 with a four-person team based out of the United States and Australia. Today, our team is based across the United States, Australia, South-East Asia and India! But it’s not just us. The remote-first culture is rapidly gaining traction in the workplace, with many new businesses opting for remote teams. However, remote team management is a crucial consideration. So, let’s dig in!

Working from home pros and cons for employers?

For one, you will need to balance a fine line between flexibility and adhering to ground rules. Managing remote teams includes taking the following into account:

• Dealing with Multiculturalism:

A remote team does not have a specific workplace or work time. This means there may not be any borders to your work-space. In dealing with workers from multiple cultures or countries employers, you will need to be aware of culture-specific practices, holidays and other sensitivities. Maintaining international holidays will help maintain your workflow. Encouraging team members to respect diversity and embrace multiculturalism will help bond remote teams effectively. Once you have defined the culture of your company, then you will need to protect it.

• Communication:

It is important to communicate with your team effectively given they won’t have the facility to ask for suggestions in the same place. Forbes conducted a survey where 97% of people believed that a lack of proper communication hampers the workforce. Therefore, building strong communication between your team is important. To improve the productivity of your conversations, some simple tips include, setting and agenda ahead of time, using the parking lot method and leveraging the right tools to maximize the value from your time spent in a meeting.

• Boosting Employee Morale:

While the best way to improve employee retention is to consider your hiring process, boosting employee morale will also drive the productivity of the workforce. Giving positive feedback, training and keeping communication open were core tenants in the Deloitte Millennial Survey that proved to boost employee’s morale, retention and the overall success of the company.

Pros and Cons of Working From Home

Pros and cons of a fully remote team

According to the Global Leadership Summit, by 2020, it is expected that at least 34% of a company’s full-time workforce will be working remotely.

Pros and Cons of Working From Home

Pros:

• Access to a large talent base:

Remote teams comprise of talent from across the world. This leads to getting the best talents and skills, along with diversity and the freshest of ideas and creativity.

• A motivated workforce:

A survey found that 53% of people preferred to work from home than in a traditional office space. Not only is it a more comfortable space, employees are better able to manage their tasks and time. Particularly for employees that require flexible work arrangements due to caregiver or health issues, this can be a highly motivating factor, leading to happier employees and higher productivity.

• Reduced expenses:

Rent, office supplies and other welfare costs are not applicable to remote teams that can save business significant amounts each year. Apart from money, remote employees also save time and energy that is otherwise spent on travel or commute.

Cons:

• Distractions:

One of the most common working remotely challenges that employees may face is the dreaded trap of procrastination. While working from home may be comfortable, it comes with its fair share of distractions. Having distractions or employees who are unable to self-manage taks can adversely affect work productivity. While working from home may not be for everyone, employers and potential remote workers can make better informed choices by understandings the pros and cons of working from home before the hiring stage. Here’s our guide to finding your next superstar hire.

• Lack of Communication:

Communication issues can occur even when you’re in the same room. Therefore, given that remote teams don’t work in the same space, department or timezone, communication issues must be well managed for. However, with video conferencing tool, online chat tools and other meetings tools, like Notiv, the idea of an augmented brain across a remote team is very possible. The important point to remember here is that any team needs a way to discuss and share information easily, and a culture that supports collaboration.

Over this year, we found that implementing proper management systems across the entire team helped us improve our communications, documentation and improved our project outcomes. Effective remote team working is as simple or complicated as balancing the various pros and cons effectively and specifically for your team.

With the future moving towards technology-based solutions, this concept can be a massive success if enough technological advancements are involved in the daily operations of the various processes.

If you found our tips interesting, useful or if you have any additional tips to turn any remote-first company working on this concept into a truly global entity, let us know! Tweet us your tips!

How Memory Works: The Science of Memory

How are memories formed in the brain? Our memory works in distinctive ways to take what we perceive and encode it in our brains. It’s the very framework we need to make sense of our day-to-day, take action and create better value from the time we invest in a task.

Unfortunately, memory is a tricky thing to master. While it may take you an entire day to memorize a chapter, you can forget that chapter in just minutes! In fact, studies have shown that in the 10 minutes it takes for you to grab your morning coffee, you have forgotten 42% of what you just did. If you’ve just left a meeting where you weren’t actively paying attention, that means you’ve effectively just missed a good chunk of the information you needed. Because your brain selectively stores information based on the importance you give it, you could be losing important information that you might need in hindsight and this is where inefficiency starts.

Stages of memory loss

And it doesn’t stop there. Over the next few hours, you’re likely to forget 64% of the information you wanted to retain and by the end of the week, all you’re likely to remember is that you had a meeting and who attended it. This is the “Forgetting Curve”. Created by 19th Century psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus, the “Forgetting Curve” depicts your loss of crucial information if there is no attempt to retain it. Basically, what this means is that you very quickly lose your memory what you’ve learned within a week unless the information is consciously reviewed.

The Forgetting Curve by Hermann Ebbinghaus

There are loads of articles on memory, how to remember things quickly and techniques, from simple methods like mnemonics to more intricate techniques like Learning Pyramid or Memory Palace. But perhaps the best place to start is to understand how memory and the art of forgetting works. We’ll also share some simple techniques you can use to improve your memory quickly.

What is memory?

Cognitive science has identified that memory works in a “dual-process”, where your subconscious memory interacts with your conscious to help you recall information quickly.

Your subconscious mind is involved in routine processes like breathing. Whereas your conscious memory handles problem-based processes. At each of these two levels, your brain is constantly encoding, storing, and recalling the information. Understanding this relationship is crucial to maximizing your ability to memorize and recall information because now you can leverage the two types to work for you!

The dual-process system of how memory works

Think back to the last time you learned a new skill. For example, the first time you made spaghetti, there was a component of conscious intention, concentration and analysis, whether it was about the color of the sauce, the amount of salt you put in or your pasta-to-cheese ratio. However, as your ability improves, this process stops being something you need to actively think about and becomes more intuitive. The phrase, “I could do it in my sleep” comes to mind.

What is forgetting?

Now imagine you’ve got a bucket full of water, but it’s got a couple of holes that leak out 90% of your water. Memory is the same. While you can collect and store information, if it’s not stored properly, you risk losing or being unable to recall the information, which is an inefficient process. There are several ways you could lose or miscode information, namely:

  • Memory Decay: When you learn something and don’t rehearse or revise it, memories decay or fade away.
  • Interference: Your old memories and information compete with the formation of new memories, thereby making it difficult to remember what is new and what isn’t.
  • Failure to store: Some information, for instance, unimportant details, never make it to your long term memory. These bits of information, like the chorus of Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean, you really don’t need to remember.
  • Memory Repression: Suppression of extremely disturbing or traumatic incidents is a defense-mechanism applied by the brain which results in a lack of clear memory of them.

How to Remember Things Quickly

So why is it that Billie Jean is now playing in your head? It’s because you don’t just remember songs, you use a host of other indicators like where you were, what you were doing, how you felt and even what you were smelling to recall the song. These different components come together to help you form a stronger memory and increases your chances of remembering the event.

The good news is that there are many methods, techniques and tools that you can use to help you retain information.

  • Take a snooze: REM sleep is important is because your brain moves information from short-term memory in the hippocampus to long-term memory in the cortex during this stage.
  • Something new: Learning new things in a creative manner or in unfamiliar circumstances will help you remember things quickly because it triggers additional activity in the hippocampus.
  • Stress or Danger: You tend to remember stressful events because of the impact it makes. Therefore, such events can be recalled faster as they are “flashbulb memories”; they hold a prominent place in the memory bank. That’s why your last-minute cram session can actually be beneficial.
  • Spaced Repetition: This is the best method to help you remember things quickly. Every time you reinforce the training, the rate of decline reduces.

The Spacing Effect

It is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change.”

The most important skill you can take up today is how to learn, even if this means you need to unlearn something. Learning how to learn is a principle under the “work smarter, not harder” tactic to anything you start in life. Your time is precious, and no one wants to waste it on something which will just be forgotten. What we want to do is drive more value from the time we invest.

We are better able to recall information and concepts if we learn them over several, frequent sessions. You can learn almost anything using this method!

Spaced repetition might not work if you have to recite a 100-page list tomorrow but the information learned via this method tends to be effectively retained over a long time.

The spacing effect of memory retention

The reminders need not be repetitive as different techniques can work better at retaining information, although this can differ for different people as well:

Teach someone else immediately: 90% retained

Practice what you’ve learned: 75% retained

Engage in a group discussion: 50% retained

Demonstrations: 30% retained

Audio-visual cues: 20% retained

Reading: 10% retained

Lectures: 5% retained

In conclusion, the best memory techniques encapsulate a few basic principles like frequent repetition, leveraging subconscious memory to improve conscious memory and using different modes of repetition. Thereafter, try to test your memory and review every 3-5 days.

How to Run a Meeting Like a Leader: Lessons from Google, Microsoft, Apple and Facebook

Meetings are a crucial part of all our workdays. Whether that’s an official team meeting or an impromptu conversation in the hallway, we have important conversations on a daily basis. A study has averaged that we have more than 20 conversations or meetings per day! That’s a lot of time we’re investing in communication, relationships and collaboration. So, how do we run an effective meeting?

In fact, researchers estimate that companies in the US alone waste at least 37 billion every year in lost productivity due to poorly organized meetings.

Today, we’ll look at how the leaders from some of the largest companies in the world like Microsoft, Google, Apple, Amazon or Facebook run a meeting? It pays to study and learn from the meeting styles of successful business leaders because they take back-to-back meetings on a daily basis. So, how do they minimize their inefficiency because if they can’t afford it, neither can we!

And there are several reasons for this inefficiency. We all know what to do to constitute a ‘good’ meeting.

Meetings become inefficient when:

  1. The team is unaligned or unsure as to why you are meeting
  2. Without a strong agenda or a reason for meeting, it’s likely that attendees won’t be able to prepare for the meeting, which leads to useless discussion and a risk of going off tangent. This also means that attendees are unable to prioritize the reason for meeting and tend to view the meeting as an interruption to their day rather than as a useful tool.
  3. You don’t keep to time or to topic
  4. While an agenda can help solve this issue, it’s also crucial that each attendee understands the scope and topic being discussed. This ensures that the team is well-aligned, the discussion is relevant and each topic is given due consideration. Nominating a meeting chair or facilitator can also help your meetings start and end on time, and stay on topic.
  5. Your meetings don’t have any ground rules
  6. All meetings need ground rules. The same way you have a dress code at work, there needs to be a code of etiquette when it comes to meetings. These rules don’t have to be extensive. Start small with a rule to “turn up to every meeting at least 5 minutes before kick-off” or make it a rule to ‘parking lot’ any topic or question that’s not immediately relevant to the discussion at hand. You’ll save yourself lots of distractive comments, discussions and useless whiffle-waffle.
  7. Another great rule is to encourage attendees to “make your coffee at least 10 minutes before the meeting” or you could move your coffee machine to your meeting room!
  8. Coffee?
  9. Coffee is whispered with reverence in most workplaces and everyone has their vice, but a recent study on the effects of caffeine on meetings revealed an interesting gender difference. During periods of stress, women who drank coffee performed better than men in the same situation. While we’re not throwing out the coffee just yet, the difference is said to lie in your instinctive response to caffeine. While women on caffeine generally tend to take on a collaborative, teamwork style, which is ideal for the meeting space, whereas men generally react in a practical or active style.
  10. The point of a meeting is not to talk
  11. Perhaps this is where the collaborative, teamwork approach makes the most sense. It’s how we define the point of a meeting. The point of a meeting is to listen and collaborate. The whole reason you’re together in a room is to benefit from one another’s viewpoints and perspectives to drive better outcomes for your team and clients.
  12. It’s about the tasks not the time
  13. If your meeting is set for 60 minutes, you don’t have to discuss for 60 minutes. This is where a strong agenda comes in handy. Focus on the tasks and points at hand rather than the time. Fortune reported that Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg keeps a list of discussion points and action items handy in her meetings so that once she’s done with her points, she can quickly move on to the next meeting and topics at hand!
  14. Disruptions and unengaged team
  15. With a huge multi-national company like Amazon, it’s easy for an unsupervised meeting to grow to exponential hands. You shouldn’t have to rent a convention center just to meet. Amazon’s funky 2-pizza rule is: every meeting should be sufficiently catered by 2 pepperoni pizzas. Only invite the relevant people to your meetings because this will help avoid repeat opinions, it prioritizes the time people dedicate to the meeting, allows for quicker decisions and it’s easier to communicate!

It’s not just how we meet, it’s what comes after that creates inefficiency. A good meeting can save dozens of follow-up emails, prevent major miscommunication, and even give birth to moments of creative magic.

Top workflow management tools from leading entrepreneurs

Talk less. Listen more

This is actually 2 of Satya Nadella’s, Microsoft CEO, 3-step meeting method. Apart from being able to listen better when you talk less, this also creates a nurturing atmosphere that encourages collaboration when you run a meeting.

There are several ways to ensure you are listening:

  • Ask specific questions;
  • Be concise and to-the-point;
  • Approach each problem as a team;
  • Give everyone time to share;
  • Keep to the time.

The worst meeting I’ve ever attended was on where a senior member of the team talked for 20 extra minutes at the end of the meeting on a tangential point. The whole team was equally inattentive and just done listening, but nobody had the courage to speak up.

Be decisive

This doesn’t mean that you call for a mutiny, overthrow the facilitator and reclaim the meeting room as new land. Being decisive means that you know when to step into the conversation and if you run a meeting, how to keep things moving forward. While it is important to listen more, at the end of the day, you need to assign tasks, keep the conversation on point and ensure follow through for better outcomes.

Know your game

You’re in the meeting for a reason and hopefully, it’s not a ‘Dinner for Schmucks’ situation. So, if you’re presenting, get passionate about your idea! No one else will champion your views, topics or expertise, so if you want things moving in a certain way, fight for them!

Of course we all want respectful workplaces, but what we mean here is don’t compromise on things you believe in. It’s also not enough to know what’s important, but you have to be able to articulate why it’s important and then convince the rest of your team.

The way Google does this is with data. Every suggestion or point is backed up by numbers so they can validate and quantify everything they do and it’s been working well for them!

When you run a meeting, you’re making meaning.

This means that before you run a meeting the right priorities are defined.

“We’re doing this because we have a passion about it…because we really care about the higher educational process. Not because we want to make a buck.”

  • Steve Jobs

This also means that you don’t need to wait for a meeting to make a decision. Have a mico-meeting to avoid senior decision makers becoming a blocker for the rest of the team.

But it’s not always the ongoing meeting that derives value, how you end your meetings also matter.

At Notiv, we understand how intimidating it can be to visualize the long road ahead of us. That’s why we end our meetings with some inspiration. It’s important to us to take some time to look back at what we’ve accomplished and to use that as motivation for the road ahead. Apple celebrated their 90th day of business, when was the last time you celebrated how far you’ve come?

No slides

While Google backs their decisions up with data, Amazon relies on the power of storytelling instead. While on one-hand this can prompt attendees to craft detailed meeting memos, it can also leave your team directionless before the meeting. Amazon prizes memos because they give the organizers a chance to better communicate the concepts to be discussed. Attendees can also read, collaborate and improve the work ahead of time, creating team alignment and focus.

Review

We’ve all rocked up to that important meeting where, despite your best intentions, you’re simply not well-prepared. Perhaps you just got off a flight, had a big night out or watched the final season of Game of Thrones.

As a meeting organizer, it’s inevitable to have attendees who simply aren’t ready. But instead of punishing these members, or risk them ‘faking it till they make it’, Amazon instead has instated a mandatory review of the meeting memo at the start of the meeting. This method not only assures the undivided attention of the team, it helps discussion or team leads prepare a final time. It’s also great team practice because it values and places importance on the time, expertise and effort required to put those memos or agendas together.

Review is also important after a meeting. What was said, what was discussed and what needs to be followed-up on immediately?

Assigning a note-taker can help with the review process but this is often a major source of inefficiency. With human note-takers, your team is subjecting itself to the biases and limitations of that one person. If they missed a crucial point, the whole team collectively shares in that loss. If everyone is taking their own notes, the team risks misalignment, miscommunication and lots of time spent after the meeting decoding notes and chasing up information.

Why take the L?

By using an AI meeting assistant, you remove that dependency and inefficiency relating to human jobs.

We all have many jobs to be done in our lives:

Some are little like making coffee in the morning;

Some are big like creating a human being;

Some surface unpredictably like a spare outfit at work because you got drenched in the morning;

Some regularly like packing healthy school lunches for your kids.

However, the menial post-meeting tasks shouldn’t be something we have to contend with anymore. There are tools, like Notiv, available for the discerning professional. Tasks like taking detailed notes while engaging in the conversation, or organizing and disseminating meeting minutes can take hours, when they should only take minutes.

Tools like Notiv help users capture the full conversation, context and rich detail;

Transcribe the conversation for clarity;

Analyze the meeting to highlight important moments;

Segment the data for a quick review of the information;

And support collaboration and dissemination of the meeting notes!

If you want to Meet Better, it’s not hard to implement some of these life hacks into your workflow.

Have you already tried one or several of these meeting hacks? Or do you have something you want to add? Let me know in the comments below!

How to Excel at Work: Tools and Tips to Becoming Irreplaceable

Joining any workplace is a scary and alien experience. Will my boss like me? Will I hate my job? Can I handle the pressure? There can be so many things to worry about. Knowing this, it’s no wonder people jump from job to job. In fact, it is said people change jobs at least 12 times in their career. Interestingly, a millennial survey by Deloitte states millennials are the most likely to switch jobs frequently. But, this doesn’t come voluntarily. Several studies show people are forced to look for new jobs due to issues such as poor performance or misalignment between values. With this in mind it got us wondering, how do you become irreplaceable and excel at work?

What do bosses think?

“People who are genuinely enjoying their job and who are inspired to continue to be better every day. These are the people who actively help others grow, they share their learnings (including their mistakes), and they are incredibly dependable. These people, while they use the word “we” rather than “I”, they themselves still stand out as individuals.” – Becci Reid, Founder at Notiv

Putting it into practice

1. Be a half-full kinda person


Every office has one. That one employee who is constantly happy and positive (even if they’re crying on the inside). Love ’em or hate ’em, you can’t deny that their positivity is contagious. That’s what every company needs. Entrepreneurship is difficult because of its up and down nature. In times of stress, that positive attitude can help motivate and inspire teams to persevere. Leaders also tend to trust these types of people with tasks because they appear confident in their abilities. These are the individuals that truly excel at work.

But how do you do this? It’s not as easy as flipping a switch. Luckily, there are some practices that you can adopt to ‘fake it till you make it’. These include avoiding the blame game, providing support to others, taking an interest in your colleagues and being grateful for and respecting your team. After all, you’re all there for a reason.

2. Commit yourself


Deadlines can be tough, especially when it comes to choosing between quitting time and overtime. However, the willingness to go above and beyond shows your boss that you’re passionate about what you’re doing. Do the due diligence so that you too can rest easy, knowing that you’ve done your best. Dedicate yourself to high standards, but don’t compare yourself to others. This also involves knowing what you can and cannot do. It can be easy to say “yes” to everything, but over committing yourself is the best way to fall short.

3. “There’s always gonna be another mountain, you’re always gonna wanna make it move”


While the process is important, in the end, we all want results. Chase those results by bringing new ideas to the table. Everyone experiences road blocks, even if it’s just writer’s block. But before you admit defeat or run to your boss, look at what you can do to unblock yourself. Come up with potential solutions and then see if your boss can help you achieve them.

4. Diversify


While you don’t want to over commit yourself or overstep boundaries, it’s always a good idea to try to be involved in a variety of things at work. Instead, try offering your colleagues help or expertise. It will not only help you build strong relationships outside of your immediate team, but it’ll give you exposure. These opportunities to network are especially crucial if you work in a large organization. Most of us are skilled, but it’s only the ones who showcase their skills who get noticed. Just don’t volunteer for something that you can’t do, and if you suddenly realize that you can’t handle your tasks, bow out early.

5. Sharing is caring, but also learning


As the workforce changes, employers also look for different things in their employees. Lifelong learning is important for your career and mental health. The good thing is that everyone has something to learn and something to impart. That’s the true mark of teamwork. Take the time to talk to your colleagues, bosses and even trainees. You never know what experiences and knowledge someone might have until you start to share.

6. Aim to make other lives easier


Let’s go back to the basics. Why would your employer keep you around? Probably because you make their lives better, or easier. Surveys have shown that top performers understand their leadership’s shifting priorities and adapt to help drive the end goals. Of course, this means that employers will need to communicate these end goals, but building trust and credibility is a good place for an employee to start. While you should always stand up for your rights, it’s important to nix bad habits like, shifting blame, becoming overly emotional, being apathetic or embracing the solitary lone-wolf life.

No matter what your role is, everyone can strive to excel at work and become irreplaceable to their company, colleagues and their clients. Be invaluable to anyone who spends time with you, because you’re giving up just as much of your time. An invaluable boss can make a world of difference in an employee’s work life and considering that we spend most of our time at work, you could even change lives.‍

Need extra resources to help you excel at work? Check out these hacks to be more productive at work!

If you need some tools to help you be more effective, check out Notiv!

Notiv helps you capture every insight and communicate outcomes clearly. With one click, recordrevisit and share your meetings. By recording your meetings and transcribing them to highlight important moments, you can stay engaged in your meeting conversations and drive better outcomes for your clients.

To learn more about our product, download the app now for free on iOS or Android.

Employee Retention for Startups: Ultimate Guide to Retaining an Amazing Team

Employee Rentention for Startups

Workers in the United States have a strong tendency to move around quickly, and at a large cost to employers. In 2016, 47% of workers admitted to replacing more than 20% of their employees throughout one calendar year and reports determined millennial turnover cost companies $30.5 billion collectively each year. Low employee retention rates in the United States are not only costly to businesses but also heavily influence the way a company operates and it is perceived by the public long term.

Source: Stats and Remedies For Employee Turnover In The Middle East

Why Does Employee Retention Matter?

Cost efficiency

Employee retention is notably important to employers conceivably due to its ability to cut costs. The numbers speak for themselves and essentially it will cost an employer twice the amount of one employee’s salary to hire and train a replacement. In addition, the cost of hiring isn’t limited to the salary, but it also drains human resources to headhunt, interview, onboard, and finally train an employee for a new position.

Consistency

As it is more expensive to hire, onboard and train a new employee, it causes consistency within a company to falter. New hires usually entail months of training within their new roles, getting accustomed to company culture and becoming comfortable in their new positions. These employees could also eventually end up training newer hires which will further impact how the company operates. While it takes time to learn the culture of a new company, it is another thing entirely to promote the culture accurately. Like a game of telephone, as the process of passing something on gets longer, the more it changes. So, retaining employees for as long as possible is the safest way to ensure a company’s brand is intact and being represented properly.

Source: How to Prepare Yourself for the Cost of Employees

How do You Create Employee Retention?

Hiring

The easiest way to prevent employees from wanting to leave a company is to improve the process at the source: who companies hire and how. Focusing on applicants who are excited about the prospective job and seem genuinely interested in being a part of the company is an important objective when conducting interviews because those applicants are the ones who are more likely to want to stay with the business long-term.

But how they are hired is also essential. A Gallup study found only 12% of employees found their company onboarding process good. The lack of a good onboarding process has been reported to result in feelings of disengagement within 3 months, which prevents the formation of an emotional bond between the employee and the company — this connection can make or break retention. A positive hiring environment is beneficial to all parties involved; the employer knows they will have a committed employee and the employee will be enthusiastic about their work environment.

Company Culture

New hires want to know they will be happy in their workplace and to know the organization stands for the same ideals they do. Studies have shown millennials are 25 times more likely to stay long-term at a workplace they believe in, which in turn minimizes company turnover costs. For example, 71% of millennials who strongly believe they know what their organization stands for and what makes it different from its competitors say they plan to be with their company for at least one year. This suggests a positive company culture in which employees find valuable aids employee retention for at least the first year. Check out what we do at Notiv to create a great working environment and team culture.

Training and Advancement

In any industry, people want the opportunity for advancement within their career. The intelligent manager will invest time in supporting their employees to realize their short-term and long-term goals. For example, creating the opportunity to attend workshops, up-skilling courses or relevant industry events. Failure could be perceived as a lack of care for their employees, which can dampen morale.

Communication

A communicative and collaborative process, structured to inform, empower and recognize employees and their work contributions are crucial. Communication that is top-down, bottom-up and also lateral engages the community and provides management with a shared insight into the ‘health’ of the business.

In combination, these elements can provide businesses with a retention strategy built from a genuine commitment to serving your customers and employees.

Team culture and training are an important aspect of employee retention

It’s your turn

It’s pretty clear many business owners have trouble retaining their employees. Having more insight into how to empower your employees and keep them will allow you to reach lengths in your business you never thought were possible. However, unless you actually adopt these tips mentioned above, you will fall into the 47% of business owners who need to replace their employees in their first year.

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