5 Tools To Do More With Less Meetings

Last week, I joined Wisembly, the team building Solid. Catching up on a company’s processes, getting to know everyone you’re going to work with, and just learning how you fit in the organization can take time. I’ve heard examples where it took up to a month for new hires to be fully operational. My experience was quite different here as I jumped straight into business and learned as I went. That was possible because the number of meetings to keep me up-to-speed was kept to a bare minimum.

Many will tell you that a valuable way to stop wasting time on meetings is to just avoid them. This requires changing behavior, which is never easy. Thankfully, there are many tools out there to help you in the process. Here’s a list of the main ones we use at Wisembly, plus a few I personally couldn’t do without.

Replace meetings with Slack

Sometimes, even a well-prepared meeting still wouldn’t be the most efficient way to tackle an issue. In most of these cases, an informal conversation would suffice. That’s where Slack comes into action for us. For the past year or so, the service has known an exponential success. Here’s what Romain, our CEO, had to say about implementing it throughout the team:

I’m always on the lookout for new products to try. For internal comms, I first experimented with Podio and Yammer, sending out an email and inviting everyone to try them out. But after a while, only a few employees were still sending out messages on these platforms. When Slack started to get traction elsewhere, I tried something different and only used it with our designer at first. This kind of “secret” usage kept on as I invited new employees one by one. After a week, the team had exchanged more messages on Slack than it had in a year on Yammer.

Some startups have opted to use Hipchat instead, you can learn more about it from Uservoice and Buffer.

If Slack fails, consider emailing

Sometimes, you have to organize your communication or inform many people at once in a concise manner. Even though Slack has a Post feature that I find very helpful in order to share organized thoughts with your team, it won’t beat an old-fashioned email all the time.

Emailing can often be efficient too. But since everyone emails, your inbox can (and will) get out of control if you’re not careful. you don’t want to drop the ball on tasks you planned to do days, weeks…ages ago. To avoid that, I use 3 lifesavers: Streak, to keep my inbox organized, set reminders, and see if and when my contacts open the emails I send them. Rapportive gives me everything I need to know about the people I exchange emails with. And finally, shortcuts save me tons of time every day.

Keeping track of progress with Trello

Trello is an incredibly intuitive tool to prioritize tasks and keep track of them. At Wisembly, the main use for Trello is found in our product development process. Our product owner, Christophe, specially likes that it gives a vision of the products’ advancement and next steps to all team members. I personally appreciate knowing at a glance what our clients can expect and when.

We’ve energized our use of Trello thanks to Zapier integrations. We’re particularly fond of how it interacts with Slack. When a new Trello card is pushed, we’re seeing it in a dedicated channel. This is yet another “hack” that saves us countless meetings while ensuring no one misses a critical update. It also works the other way: We can add new bugs to Trello via Slack simply by commenting with the #bug hashtag.

Collaborate on docs with Google Drive

When I was a student, there was no easy way to collaborate on documents. When you entered a work room, it was completely normal to see 2 or 3 students grouped behind the same screen to work on the same spreadsheet or word document. At the time, it made sense. Today, it seems crazy to me thanks to Google Drive.

Besides allowing you to share any document throughout your organization, Google Doc also lets you collaboratively work on the a single document. This effectively puts the days of file version conflicts to rest.

Use your own products

We’re fortunate enough to be building products that we can use internally on a daily basis. Like all my teammates, I’ve been using Solid since day 1 here, on every meeting. One of my favorite features is to automatically email all members with key actions to take next, saving me countless follow ups. We’re also inviting our collaborators to give it a spin. Gathering their feedback is invaluable for our product team as we’re constantly looking for ways to improve Solid.

In the end, what matters is that you pick the tools that help you save time. And what works for Wisembly may not work for your team. Is there any product you think we should try?