Say Hello to Ava : The Ava Blog

Avaya’s Business Engagement Expert & Technology Translator

by Ava

Why You Need to Stop Taking Laptops into Meetings


We’ve all been there; you go into a meeting room and the first thing that is mentioned, even before “hello” or “how are you doing,” is: “Is there Wi-Fi?” People seem more interested in connecting their laptop, than connecting with their colleagues. Most people accept that using a phone in a meeting is a no-no. So when did it become acceptable to use your laptop in a meeting like you were still at your desk?
I’m all for making the most of your time in the office, and certainly capturing notes on a laptop can be a lot more efficient than deciphering them at a later date. But it can be a real barrier to an engaging meeting when you are faced with a wall of laptops. Hands up if you’ve been distracted by the tapping of a keyboard – colleagues more focused on their screen than the discussion – and that nagging feeling that people are working on things unrelated to your meeting?

Here are my 10 tips to stop laptops from disrupting your meeting:

  1. Do you need it with you? – Before attending a meeting, ask yourself whether you need your laptop. If you don’t need it, leave it back at your desk to charge, I’m sure it’ll be fine without you.
  2. Designate one person for note-taking – Select one person to be the notetaker for the meeting so the rest of the group can actively engage with one another.
  3. Be an example – Avoid taking your laptop to your meetings, but if you do, close it and place it out of the way so you aren't tempted to take a peek under the lid.
  4. Sound off – No one, especially you, needs to hear the swoosh of an email being sent.
  5. Laptop breaks – For longer meetings, schedule a laptop break to allow people to check emails and catch up on other projects.
  6. Ask in advance – Need to use your laptop in a meeting? Ask the organizer in advance if it's ok to use your laptop before the meeting starts.
  7. Sit at the back – If you absolutely must use your laptop during a meeting, try to sit away from where the presenter is, so you aren’t a distraction to the group.
  8. Don’t attend – If you have more pressing work to do and can’t focus in the meeting, then don't attend. Better to do one thing well, than two things half as well.
  9. Set ground rules – Consider putting a note in the calendar invite that it will be a “laptop-free” meeting.
  10. Go old school – Assign everyone a desktop computer and see how they cope lugging that to a meeting :-)

by Ava

I don’t know what you mean? Why buzzwords are killing conversations.


“I think we need to leverage the thought leadership ideation with the product synergy so we can execute this ASAP. Once we get our ducks in a row I’ll circle back with you, and we can get the growth hacking started. #FTW.”
Can we all please remind ourselves that business buzzwords are jargon? And no one likes jargon. So why are office conversations now littered with it and what are the downsides of using buzzwords in the office?
I'm sure there are many reasons why people throw buzzwords into conversations and presentations. Perhaps it makes them feel smarter? Or they use it as a filler because they don’t know what else to say? Maybe these terms are endemic in their industry? Or they feel a need to speak this special “language” to fit in? Whatever it is, here are three reasons why we should all consider banning buzzwords from the office:
  1. They are clichéd and don't make you look smart – You can impress many more people by articulating your points through clear and concise language, rather than trying to use a short-cut buzzword.
  2. Buzzwords mean different things to different people – Part of the reason buzzwords are so widely used is because they are nebulous. This also means that when we use them in conversations, there is a higher chance of misunderstanding. For that reason, stick to simple and straightforward words to communicate.
  3. Buzzwords remove some humanity from business – Successful businesses are about people; this could be your employees or your customers. For that reason let’s speak to our peers and co-workers like we would speak to our friends and family. Let’s have honest, respectful conversations. Let’s stop referring to employees as "resources," redundancies as "workforce rebalancing" or "sweating the assets" as working people harder and longer.

by Ava

Don’t Let Work Ruin Your Vacation


Technology makes it easy for us to be connected to work at all times – even when we are supposed to be on vacation. It may not seem too bad to respond to a few emails while you are on your break, but failing to disconnect fully when on vacation stops you from recharging your batteries. Not to mention missing out on quality time with your friends and family. Here are five tips to unplug and make the most of your holiday:
  1. Tell people you are on vacation. There's a reason they created the Out Of Office reply, so let's make sure we all use it. Specify in your email that you are on vacation, when you will be back and who to contact in your absence.
  2. Get ahead of things. Plan ahead and designate someone to take responsibility for your projects while you’re out. Don’t worry, you can repay the favor when they take their break.
  3. Have a digital detox. Elect for a paperback book so that you aren't tempted to check emails; that one email can become a real rabbit hole.
  4. Have your family and friends hold you accountable. If they see you sneaking off to make a call outside or scrolling through emails at the dinner table, tell them to call you out on it.
  5. Get away from it all. Pick a destination or an activity where you can't connect to the Web. This way you'll be free of any distractions.
If you really can’t resist working while on vacation, designate a small amount of time each morning to catch up on emails and only respond to the most urgent ones.
Remember, work will still be there when you get back, and you’ll feel much more rejuvenated and productive on your return if you allow yourself a proper break.

by Ava

Creating the Right Impression on Twitter


Being professional on social media isn’t as easy as it looks. First of all, you have to bury – and I mean, bury – those skeletons from your past. Old keg-stand photos from your college senior spring break? Get rid of them. The last thing they do is scream reliable colleague or potential new hire. Inappropriate language or media on Twitter? Stop what you’re doing right now – no one wants to see or read that.
Although social media is a place to interact with friends (and, of course, share funny cat videos), it is also a place to create and maintain your professional identity.
Today, I take a look at one social network in particular – Twitter – and how it can be best used to enhance your professional identity. In 140 characters or less, you can portray yourself at the cutting edge of your profession. Better yet, you can communicate with colleagues, prospects and partners and create a killer impression while doing so.

Here are five things to remember to create the best impression of yourself on Twitter:

  1. Pick an interesting header and professional profile photo – You know what they say: First impressions count.
  2. Your bio – Explain who you are, where you work and a little bit about your interests. All in 140 characters.
  3. Develop a distinctive voice – This is you we’re talking about. Bring your tweets to life with personality.
  4. Alternate your content – Personal interests, industry news and company news. Keep it appropriate, relevant and pithy. 80% of users are on mobile, and tweets containing a link receive an 86% higher retweet rate than tweets with no links.
  5. Highlight your company culture – Your Twitter profile could be the first place that potential new hires stop to check out what it’s like to work at your office. Show off all the cool things your company is doing through photos (tweets with images have 5X better engagement rates).
And, most importantly, remember to stay true to you. This is your Twitter profile after all, and you decide what’s best to share.