How to score your first AI quick wins: Accessible meetings

Posted by Stephanie Organ on 03-Dec-2019 12:55:47

In Artificial Intelligence, quick win projects, accessibility

Artificial Intelligence (AI) can come across as a make or break move, perhaps a risky step, particularly if you don’t have disposable resources, which is why it is so important to start with some quick win projects in order to build confidence and momentum within the company. The sure success of a quick win project removes the pressure for following projects where there might be more at stake, but they also bring immediate value to your business.

We believe that this is the best way to approach AI adoption, which is why we’ve put together this quick win series to make it easier for companies to take those initial steps. We recently discussed launching your own FAQ chatbot, and today we’ll focus on accessible meetings.

Why accessibility is the way

Creating a more accessible work place can bring many benefits, from improved recruitment and employee retention to enhanced productivity and reduced operational costs. Increasing accessibly is far less hassle than it seems, and it can be done in three main ways; by removing physical boundaries, by changing attitudes towards hiring people with disabilities, and through technological accessibility.

As technology has become a key driving force for productivity and success in the work place, ensuring that your tech tools are accessible is becoming more important for creating inclusive roles and getting more out of your workers, since accessibility also boosts productivity and job satisfaction.

In the long term, increased accessibility may attract talent from a more diverse talent pool as your company breaks down unnecessary boundaries and taps into unrealised potential.

The value

One of the easiest ways to boost accessibility and inclusivity is by making meetings — whose main purpose is to keep everyone on the same page — easier to follow along with and catch up on, making every meeting more functional. This can be done by adding live subtitles and automated alt refs for those who are present to more easily follow, or automatically transcribing meetings to reduce the need for note taking or typing up the minutes and creating a searchable record of what was discussed.

Accessible meetings are particularly valuable because they are not only more inclusive of those with disabilities, but they are extremely beneficial to staff members who are not working in their first language and might otherwise struggle to follow along, and they can increase engagement from members that have trouble taking away key points or even those who can’t show up. With flexible and remote working becoming ever more popular among the next generation of workers, accessible meetings can be a great asset for a modern organisation.

Subtitles can be added in real time and in multiple languages, so this can be great for international client meetings, one-on-one calls or a mixed workforce or international audience where individuals might prefer to follow along in a chosen language.

Increased accessibility leads to greater contribution and creativity from your staff, and it might come from places you didn’t expect, people you didn’t realise were having a hard time staying tuned. With everyone on the same page it may even decrease the need for so many meetings, saving your company time and reducing the time wasted chasing each other up over points that have already been clarified in meetings.

The Project

So you’ve seen the obvious benefits, but how do you put this into action?

Many people are truly surprised at how easy it is to add an extra layer of functionality and accessibility to their meetings or presentations with a tool as simple as Microsoft PowerPoint or Google Slides. In PowerPoint, just select Subtitle Settings on the Slide Show ribbon tab and choose from one of the supported speech languages that you will be using, then choose from one of the many output languages. This feature can be toggled on or off while presenting. In Google Slides, just click the CC shortcut button to turn on closed captions. For best results try using a microphone when using generated subtitles, and since the Natural Language Processing works via cloud based service, a strong internet connection is recommended.

To take this a step further, Microsoft have realised an add-in called Presentation Translator which supports a few more speech languages and allows viewers to tune in using the QR code or five letter conversation code and follow along in their chosen language.

To assist the visually impaired or anyone who uses a screen reader, you can also add automated alt text generation for images, videos and shapes in your PowerPoint presentation with the simple click of a button, using AI to identify the objects, including those that are just decorative. Traditionally, users would be told they have reached an image with no further explanation, but the alt text will describe images, videos or decorative shapes, giving them a more complete understanding of the slides. A picture speaks a thousand words, but only if you it can be interpreted!

These tools can help people during meetings, but other tools such as Microsoft Stream and Otter.ai can assist after meeting, providing an accurate record of what occurred during the meeting and freeing up a dedicated notetaker to either partake or focus on other tasks if their presence isn’t otherwise required.

Microsoft Stream is available as part of Office 365 and allows you to record or live stream your meetings. This reduces the need to find a slot where everyone can attend and allows both those who attended and those who could not to recap the points and search the transcript for relevant information or clarification. Alternatively you can subscribe to an Otter.ai plan that matches your requirements, particularly relevant if your use Zoom for meetings as they will sync.

More quick wins

Now that you’ve seen how easy it can be to start infusing your work processes with AI, why not check out a few more of our quick win projects that might be relevant to your business? Get inspired, download our free 7 Quick Wins Projects guide and start winning with AI today.