If you work with an association, you know that collaborating with volunteers located around the country or even the world is an everyday occurrence—and, at times, a challenge. Volunteer leaders of associations have day jobs and busy schedules, after all, which makes it more critical to ensure efficient and effective communication and making the most out of the times we can get everyone on the phone together! We at Talley Management know how vital collaboration between volunteers is to an association’s well-being and future, which is why we’re dedicating this post to some of our favorite tools for organizing successful and seamless online board or committee meetings.
Not to be confused with the ride-hailing app, Uber Conference is a great conference line service with tons of features, from easy-to-use corporate controls to roll-out personal conference lines, no PIN conference lines, and join-by-computer audio and screen share. You can even see who is called in online and can mute lines one by one. This is a quick and easy product that we have found perfect for ad-hoc, quick set-up meetings.
Popular amongst corporate teams, Slack is an excellent communications tool to keep email in check. You can use channels to organize board meetings, post files for the meeting and start discussions in the channel, all of which help move smaller agenda items through ahead of the meeting itself. It can take some time to get people on board and in the mindset of using Slack over email, but if that happens, your inbox will thank you.
Tried and true, GoToMeeting is one of the classic tools for hosting online meetings. With integrated phone and computer audio, connecting everyone is easy. The screen share features make GoToMeeting one of the best options for longer board meetings where viewing documents collaboratively is a priority. The downfall of the system is the inability to have a quick conference call without having to launch the online system.
Boasting many similar features to GoToMeeting, Zoom is very easy and intuitive to use, making it a great choice for the less tech-savvy among us. Beyond its basic format, Zoom has many excellent side products to help enhance your meetings as well, like Zoom Rooms. Zoom is ideal for those meetings that require a strong video presence. For others just seeking an online meetings product, Zoom may be overkill.
“But we use Microsoft Office here,” you might say. True, but how many are using Office 365? That’s where Google Docs comes in, as it’s a robust, free collaboration tool for documents and presentations. Working in real-time on a document not only saves time, but also spares you the sometimes-painful process of sharing a document via email and trying to reconcile changes from those that may not be the best at using the MS Word track changes feature.
These are just a few of the tools available to facilitate communication and collaboration among your volunteers. As you evaluate which ones work best for your organization, keep in mind that there is no sole product that will solve all your problems. Instead, strive for a tool that checks off a lot of the criteria on your list. Remember to also find a software that will work for everyone. While you may be someone adept at jumping right into something new, others need more time to adapt to changes. By selecting the right technological tool(s) for your organization, you will not only be making life easier for you and your volunteers, but you will foster the growth and success of your organization.