When it comes to meetings, can we really mean paperless or, do we really mean less paper? That all depends on you, as well as the other meeting participants. I have written previously about the value of digital copies of documents, they take up less space, the text can be searched etc. But, where to be store them and how can we provide access to them to other participants? How can we possibly manage to view all the necessary documents on-screen for a meeting that has a plethora of associated papers?
The first efficiency is not to circulate meeting papers via email (assuming here that you have not hand written or typed them on a typewriter and therefore, that you could email them). There are a couple of reasons for this, firstly (depending on the server) when you email a document multiple copies of it are stored on the email server (for which there is an unnecessary cost). Secondly, once emailed it can be more easily viewed, forwarded or accessed by unauthorised recipients. It is therefore better to distribute the documents via a link to a secured, online location. SharePoint is an ideal solution for this; it allows the user, if permitted, to read the document online or, if the feature is enabled (for them) to download a copy. In a compatible browser and with permission it is also possible to edit documents online and save edits; the right people get the right access.
Once the meeting participants have the documents they may wish to print out some or all of the meeting pack. However, this may not be necessary, in some meetings the agenda is projected onto a screen for all to see .In other meetings, participants are expected to read the documents on a laptop if they have one, or to consider carefully which documents really do need to be printed and brought to the meeting. Assuming that you have a laptop or tablet, and you are willing to use it to access the meeting documents using it, I have found it useful to use multiple desktops (see post here https://blogs.it.ox.ac.uk/technology-at-work/2015/06/09/when-i-am-cleaning-windows/) to display the various documents. In addition I choose to use colour to distinguish between, the agenda, reports and minutes. This might be achieved by highlighting the title in different colour, or changing the background colour. Changing the background colour is very easy in a word processor, and provides a strong visual clue as to the document type. In the recent versions of Word, you will find change page colour under the design tab. If the document is produced as a PDF, the latest versions of Word will allow to you to open and edit the file, or you may find it easier to use a free PDF editor, or even Evernote, to highlight parts of the text.
Whilst there is a discussion to be had about the cost of digital storage and running a computer to view, edit and take notes, overall whatever can be done to reduce printing is useful. The result is a reduction in cost; less power and print consumables (ink, toner and paper) and a reduced carbon footprint.