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10.01.2022 Organisation & processes

When to use Slack most effectively

When to use Slack most effectively

Slack is a fantastic tool that keeps us all in the loop on different projects and ideas. But occasionally things get messy and it helps to clear things up over a meeting or confirm brainstorms and first ideas with an email.

“But, when?” I hear you shout! Well, ‘when’ is indeed the question that we have an answer for.

Below you’ll find out when you can best use Slack, and when an email or meeting might be better. After reading these tips you’ll be able to use Slack more effectively in your business.

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Slack vs email 

When organising more complex or lengthy projects it’s very useful to keep track of any decisions made or conversations that need to be followed up. 

Slack isn’t always the best place to do that. 

In the case that discussions on Slack about a project are too complicated to follow, we suggest that you follow up and send a breakdown of the topics discussed, any decisions that were made, and the tasks that need to be completed before the next sprint or meeting. 

Doing this has a lot of advantages. Firstly, in depth discussions are much easier to have in person. And once you’ve written up your notes, your email thread will be easy to follow, with timestamps, details and action plans. 

However, using email over Slack can sometimes cause problems as using several different communication tools can lead to more confusion. It makes it much more likely that someone will miss something directed at them. 

To avoid this, we only replace Slack with email in the situations above, where we need a real written record of the project’s timeline. 

If you’re also coordinating your teams with tools such as Asana, Trello or Jira, you may find that sending an email is rarely necessary, as you can write up project tickets based on your offline discussions. 

When to send an email:

  • When you’re sending important meeting minutes, action plans and decisions that might need sign offs. 
  • It’s great to have a written record, like an email thread, for all feedback sessions. 

Slack vs meetings

Personally, if I’m not completely certain with what’s going on and when with a project, I will call a 15 minute meeting. This can be online or in person, it doesn’t really matter, as long as you’re having an in-real-time conversation for more clarity. 

When having the meeting it should be clear from the start that the purpose of the meeting is to align and give an update, as well as working through any blockers that team members might have. 

These meetings should not introduce new ideas or discussions, simply because it will lead to more confusion and you won’t feel aligned with what was already being discussed on Slack. 

Another great reason to call a meeting is to take part in a brainstorming session. If you have a whiteboard then these can be useful for structuring lots of different things. Once you’re done with your brainstorming session, make sure to take a photo of everything you’ve written down. You can then share the photo within your Slack channel for the specific project. 

Good times to call a meeting: 

  • When a thread in Slack becomes too confusing to keep up. 
  • When it’s not clear who’s taking the lead or responsibility for certain tasks. 
  • When you’re conducting a retrospective once a large project has been completed. 
  • When there are blockers to talk through with other team members. 
  • During brainstorming or creative stages of projects. 

Meeting minutes

On the subject of meetings, let’s talk about how to use Slack effectively to keep track of your notes and agendas.

Having a dedicated member of the meeting write up the notes to share with the rest of the team is incredibly important for consistency and understanding. 

If you want to learn more about when you should have a meeting, then check out our meeting necessity guide!

Minutes for meetings are most beneficial when they are easily accessible. Slack allows us to easily add and keep track of minutes and notes from meetings. Personally, I like to use the </> formatting button to give me something similar to the below example, then I can add the links to the documents in the replies.

an example of sending meeting minutes on Slack

Setting out your meeting minutes like this is beneficial because you can keep one thread for all the meetings you have related to that project. This way all your stand-up notes are in your team channels, and your project minutes are in their separate dedicated channels. 

If you’re looking to learn more about using channels effectively you should read our dedicated article.

When you want to revisit those minutes, go to the project channel, for example ‘#project-optimisation’, and use the search bar to look for ‘meeting minutes’. You’ll then arrive at the ‘meeting minutes’ thread and can go through each meeting’s documents. 

Summing up on meeting minutes:

  • Assign a dedicated member of the team to write up the notes.
  • Keep your meeting minutes in an easy to access area like a thread in your team or project Slack channel. 

To wrap up

If you decide to take it ‘offline’ and hold a meeting instead of discussing it over Slack, make sure to write up the meeting notes as soon as possible. 

Remember that if it’s a complex subject you can also write an email with the notes, plus any action plans you decided to go forward with. 

If you’re using organisation tools like Asana or similar, make sure you keep them updated with tickets related to offline conversations. This is by far the most effective way of keeping track of offline conversations and action plans. 

Even though we’re in the digital age, and more things are going online, don’t be afraid of suggesting a meeting. Speaking in person definitely helps with clarity and keeps everyone on the same page. 

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