I was being interviewed the other day by Doug Devitre, host of the Screen to Screen Selling TV Show, and he asked an intriguing question: “What is a trend your seeing in meetings and collaboration that groups and organizations should really start taking advantage of when it comes to using the latest technology?”
After a moment, I answered, “There are alot of collaborative technologies out there – and Screen to Screen Selling is a fabulous methodology! I think we need to be paying attention to those technologies that speed up the learning. Alot of meetings have a ‘presentation’ piece where I need to present stuff to the team. We can [and should] do that before the meeting. The meeting is about the collaboration, the conversation. It’s about the give and the take and the understanding of where you’re coming from [the different points of view] so we can get to that synergistic outcome. Using collaboration tools, using documents to create agreements together is going to be more and more prevalent. ”
So what are some of the tools you can use to make your meetings more effective?
The most obvious and prevalent collaboration tool is email. It’s so prevalent, I almost forgot to add it to this blog! The challenge is that we all get way too much email to wade through each day. So the key is to agree on some common ground rules such as writing a concise subject line; put the action items and due dates in the first paragraph, address the email TO: the people who need to take action and CC: to those who just need to know.
Upload your team’s documents and share it with others in real time using Google Docs or SubEthaEdit. You can all see it and edit it at the same time (as long as you have an Internet connection)! So while one person is speaking, another person can be scribing what is being said and others can make their notes too!
Save all your team documents (agendas, minutes, reports, research etc.) on Google Drive or Dropbox. I call this a “team memory” where anyone can go back and check for decisions made, the crucial piece of data needed for the presentation, and to get new team members up to speed quickly. Check out this handy website to compare cloud storage providers
Find a common team meeting time with Doodle which enables you to poll your teammates’ availability – and find a time that works for all. You can also schedule one-on-one meetings with your team mates using Calendly or Google’s appointment slot feature if all your team mates are on Google. Same goes with Microsoft Outlook if everyone is on Office 365.
Make sure your calendar app has built-in time zone support. I like to use this time zone converter to determine the difference between my local time and the organizer’s time.
Videoconference and share screens with Skype, Google Hangouts, Join.me or Zoom. I’ve just discovered a new platform that has more collaboration potential: VSee allows you to screen share AND collaborate on documents. It’s actually a telemedicine platform, yet is free to the casual user that doesn’t need HIPAA compliance/secure functions. VSee actually put together a great comparison chart – as we all have different needs when it comes to the digital space.
Agree on an instant messaging platform where you can check in for quick questions, answers and observations. There are lots of instant messaging apps such as Skype, Apple Messages, Gmail Chat). Just make sure everyone can access it from their desktop and/or tablet/smartphone.
Every once in a while, one of your teammates might not be able to attend a crucial meeting. Record the call using TapeACall. (BTW, let everyone on the call know that it is being recorded). Google Hangouts on Air automatically records and uploads to YouTube or install Call Recorder to record your Skype calls. If you want to record directly from your computer screen and edit it for subsequent use, I use Screenflow (some of my colleagues use Camtasia as well).
These are my top tech tools I am using these days and the technology platforms are starting to converge where they are offering more and more features to make the team’s virtual work more seamless using the technology.
I know I am missing some great tools out there…what tech tools are you using to make your meetings more effective?
Kristin Arnold is a professional meeting facilitator and international speaker who is passionate about teamwork. The Extraordinary Team’s approach to building high performance teams combines consulting, coaching, training and process facilitation within the context of working real issues. You can read more of her work in one of her books Team Basics, Email Basics, Team Energizers, or Boring to Bravo.
Photo source: Design Pickle