Improving Your Teams' Communication Capabilities with Online Resources
Considering the rate of volunteer turnover in many not-for-profits, ensuring files do not get lost, a project doesn't end up stalled or abandoned, or the like is imperative for an organization's continued effectiveness. There is a wide range of free and for-pay online resources that associations can be making use of to improve their efficiency and how they keep their processes organized.
In this article, we will talk specifically about what your organization can use to improve how it communicates. The following list of online resources you should consider is far from complete. It will, however, point you in the right direction for what works best for your organization, and should illustrate what you've been missing out on.
Communications Online Resources
Improving communications is vital to an association's effectiveness, especially if the organization is not confined to a single, local region. The farther apart volunteers, staff, and members are, the more important enhanced communications tools become. Thankfully, some online resources can help with this.
Skype is one of the more common online voice call and video chat platforms around. With a mix of both free and for-pay features, Skype allows teams to share video calls so everyone can better communicate what needs to get done. Mobile access is also available.
Google Hangouts is another video and voice call service that also allows for instant messaging. Although not as popular as Skype, Google Hangouts are easy to access, easy to invite others into joining. Its integration into the broad range of other popular Google tools (e.g., Gmail) makes it a great option for teams. Also, you can access hangouts from your mobile device.
Facetime may have been created with the intention of more personal communications, but it offers a "quick and dirty" solution to team communications needs. Given how popular iPhones are, and the fact that Facetime comes installed on them all, chances are at least someone in each group will have one on hand if your team is spread out across two areas. Turn on Facetime at each location, mount the iPhones on their side, so each group is in the camera, and off you go. The downside is the screen size, microphone capabilities, and the inability to join more than two parties, but it gets the job done in a pinch.
GoToMeeting is another popular option for team communications, although it comes with a price tag that grows depending on how often you plan to use the platform. The software allows mixing voice and video calls and allows the "presenter" to share their computer desktop for the team to watch. This is great for slideshows and the like, or even for popping open Photoshop to share a quick, rough drawing if something isn't clear and needs an on-the-spot visual aid. Best of all, you can change whose desktop is considered the presenter without breaking away from the meeting. There's also the option to record and download the meeting if you want to keep a record of what is said. There is also a mobile app to improve accessibility.
WebEx is a customizable, for-pay voice and video conference platform. It offers a broad range of options for information delivery and displays, and expands usability via its mobile app. One of its better features is its advanced capabilities when it comes to organizing, storing, searching for, and presenting everything from messages to files and presentation components.
Online Resources for Communications -- Identifying What You Need
The first step to finding online resources that can help with your association's communications is identifying the problem.
Which situations are you running into where you keep seeing a need for improvement?
What is eating up a lot of your time because it takes a long time to communicate meaning?
Are you having trouble getting your team together in a single location or at the same time?
Does everything take longer because you have to update and share documents and the like to remote team members?
Instead of looking at what hampers your organization's communication processes as something you can tolerate so long as the job gets done, discover where the inefficiencies are. The next step is to research which online resources are available to help with your problem (if it's not among those I've already listed, that is.) Not all are free and may not be within your budget, but even so keep looking to see if there is a less-impressive-but-free alternative available.
Have any suggestions for communications online resources you would like to share with your peers? Mention them and provide a link in the comments!
In his book, Online PR & Social Media: For Experts, Authors, Consultants and Speakers, Randall M. Craig tackles a different aspect of an organization's online resources and capabilities: social media. H provides insight into social media channels and how associations can make the most of them, including increasing their following. Beyond these obvious components, he brings up aspects of your organization's social media presence you likely haven't considered yet -- but should.