Jan 25

Ten tech tools for a better year

After a truly draining 2020, I’m more focused than ever on finding ways to have a better year and make all aspects of my life easier to manage.

It feels like we’re starting off 2021 with a peek at the light at the end of the tunnel. While some return of normalcy seems to be on the way, I recognize it may still be months until we get there. That’s why I’m grateful there are so many online tools to help with efficiency, organization and creativity as we continue on in this abnormal time. I’ve compiled a list of 10 tech tools to help collaborate with others, streamline your day and improve visual communication:

Virtual whiteboards

Zoom whiteboard: Did you know Zoom has its own virtual whiteboard built right in? If Zoom is your go-to for video meetings, you might like to give the whiteboard feature a try. Simple to use, it’s a great visual tool for keeping track of ideas during team brainstorming. To find this feature, click screen share and then select the whiteboard option.

The Zoom tech tool that allows you to screenshare a virtual whiteboard. This screenshot shows the Whiteoard option is in the middle top of the screen share options.

Once you click the Share Screen button located in your meeting tool bar, select the Whiteboard option.

The Zoom tech tool that allows you to screenshare a virtual whiteboard. This screenshot shows the whiteboard in use. Annotation tools such as draw or add text are displayed at the top of the screen for use on the white board.

The annotation tools will appear automatically, but you can press the Whiteboard option in the meeting controls to show and hide them.

Zoom annotate: Perhaps even cooler than the whiteboard feature is the annotate option Zoom offers. This allows you and your participants to draw or add text directly over the screen you’re sharing. The annotation tools also allow you to highlight or spotlight an area. To use this feature, simply select the annotate option at the top of your screen once you start screen sharing. If you’re not finding this option, you may need to enable it in your account settings.

Zoom tech tool that allows you to annotate on a shared screen. This screenshot shows how the annotation option can be found at the top of your screen once you start sharing.

After sharing your screen, annotation controls will display. If you don’t see the annotation tools, move your cursor to the top of your screen to find the Annotate option.

Zoom tech tool that allows you to annotate on a shared screen. Annotation tools, such as draw and add text, are displayed at the top of the screen.

Some of the annotation controls allow you to add text, draw, add stamps and highlight information.

Microsoft Whiteboard: Microsoft also has its own version of online whiteboard intended for real-time collaboration that is available for free with a Microsoft account. If you use Microsoft apps like 365 and Teams, then Microsoft Whiteboard might be the better option for you.

Miro: A popular online whiteboard platform, Miro offers audio and video conferencing, screen sharing and a chat messenger. Anyone can access the board with a link and edit it in real-time. The free version allows for three boards, templates, unlimited teammates and integration with Microsoft Teams, Google Drive, Microsoft One Drive, Dropbox, Adobe Creative Cloud and more.

Scheduling tech tools

Screenshot of a briefing from Cortana offering time slots available to book for breaks, learning, etc.Cortana: If you use Microsoft Outlook and are due for an update, you’re in for a treat with Cortana. Referred to as a personal productivity assistant, Cortana provides a personalized and actionable daily briefing email in your inbox to help you start your day, streamline meeting preparation and block out time to focus. Weekly, there’s a section that makes it easier to carve out time for what you want to accomplish. With one click, you can book time for catching up on emails, professional development or even taking a break to recharge.

Calendly: This appointment scheduler integrates with your calendar to make setting up meetings simpler. You let Calendly know your availability preferences for a meeting and it’ll do the work for you. All you have to do is share a link to your attendees, they’ll pick a time from the options and then the event will be added to your calendars. If this tool interests you, you might like to read this blog post about how to make the most of your free account.

Doodle: If you haven’t used Doodle before, you might like to try it the next time you need to book a meeting with lots of people. Doodle is a free online appointment scheduler that allows you to forgo back-and-forth emails. It gives a clear visual snapshot of your availability to other attendees with a simple survey. People can select what times work for them to give you a nice visual of where everyone’s availability aligns. There are paid options available if you’re interested in more scheduling features similar to Calendly.

Easy design

Visme: Visme is an alternative to Canva (which we love, by the way) but I’d like to highlight the site’s “Visual Learning Center.” Professionals in public relations, marketing and related fields are trying to reach people whose attention is more limited than ever. Taking time to expand and improve our visual communication skills will be key this year to keeping our audiences engaged. If you’re eager to become a better visual communicator, explore the numerous free, educational resources from Visme. You can read blog posts about improving presentations, infographics, branding and more. The site also has video tutorials, live webinars, online courses and ebooks — all for free.

Infogram: Branded as an “intuitive visualization tool,” Infogram is more of a niche platform. It’s ideal for creating infographics, reports, slide decks, dashboards, maps and more. If you’ve got a project that requires high-impact data visualization, check out the free version to meet your needs.

Want to explore more tech tools? Check out this blog post to learn about another list of tech tools I think every PR pro should know about.

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