For 10 years, I’ve been a small business owner and for about half that time, I’ve exclusively worked from home. Since the world is in a state where we might physically be able to be together for a while, I wanted to share some of the best tools I’ve used for communicating 100% virtually with people.
Virtual Face to Face Meetings ??????
Zoom is a great software for virtual, face-to-face meetings. They have apps for phones and tablets, so you can use it from whatever device is best for you. If you have a camera on your computer/device, you can video chat, if not you can still talk to others without video. And if someone doesn’t have a smartphone, they can call in like a teleconference by calling a number local to them and entering the meeting ID.
You can use the free version for:
- Unlimited one on one meetings
- Group meetings up to 40 minutes long (up to 100 people)
- Screen sharing during a meeting
- Recording your meetings
If you need more robust features, you can upgrade for $14.99 or $19.99 per month.
Fun, Fast Chatting Software, for large + small groups ?
Slack is can be a little hard to get used to, but once you do… it’s so efficient and fun! If you’ve been around long enough to remember old school chatrooms, it definitely reminds me of a slicker version of that. First, you create an organization and by inviting your team members via email. Within each organization, you can create topics/areas, into what they call channels, where you and whomever you choose can send messages to each other. It also has advanced personal/group messaging capabilities, so you can have private conversations with one person or groups of people.
Here’s one of their videos that can help you get a feel of it:
They recently made a guide to working from home, which you can check out here.
Screenshare Software ??
Loom is one of my favorite tools. You can record your screen in your browser for free, with a small video of yourself in the corner.
Once you sign up, I highly recommend using Loom with their free Chrome extension. If you’re not already using it, Chrome is a free browser you can download. After it’s installed and you’re ready to record, you’ll click on the extension and you’ll see:
Be sure to note you have 3 top-level options. Screen + Cam, Screen Only and Cam only. If you prefer to not show your pretty face as you talk, click on the “Screen Only” and then click the small gray text just above the button that says “Show advanced options”. You’ll see some more options you may want to toggle on and off.
If you don’t want your face or photo to show, toggle off the “Use Photo for Screen Only”, as seen above. You can also select to hide the control menu and recording countdown, just be sure you know how to stop, pause and complete your video if you choose to hide the controls.
One other important note here is that I always recommend you select “Full Desktop”. You will still have the option to choose one browser window when you do this and you’ll be able to move around in your browser window to other tabs. If you select the “Current Tab” option, you may not skip around to other tabs that may be open.
Once your video is complete and Loom has completed processing it, then you can quickly share it by sending people straight to Loom to watch it. You may also download the video, to share the file itself or upload it to your video platform(s), like YouTube, Vimeo, or Facebook.
If you choose to share the link to Loom, these handy things will happen:
- You’ll receive an email once it’s viewed
- People can comment right underneath, including cute emoji reactions
- Loom keeps count of how many times it’s been viewed
- Allow other people to download and/or share it
If you’re not into Google Chrome, you can also download the Loom app for your computer. You can learn more about getting started with Loom here.
Document collaboration & file sharing ??
If you need to work on a document with a team, there’s no better solution than Google Docs. Once you create a document, then you have many options:
- You can make it viewable, without allowing people to comment or edit, yet people can copy it
- You can allow people to comment on, but not edit
- You can allow people to do everything, including edit
An important note: If you’re not making the doc (or folder) public and you’re sharing it via email, the person does need a Gmail email address.
In your comments, you can tag people via email address, in which case they will get an email once you leave the comment. When you tag someone, they’ll also give you the option to assign the comment to that person for them to resolve. Once they fix or address your comment, they can mark it resolved. 🙂
Creating docs in Google Drive 100% free (you just need a free Gmail address) and the options are so good, that I’m confused when people still send me Word docs.
They also have spreadsheets, aka Google Sheets and a presentation solution, called Google Slides.
Just like creating folders to save things in on your computer, you can create Google Drive folders to share any file type in.
Just create a new folder, double click on it open and you can drag files from off of your computer into that folder.
Now, just like the documents – you can allow people to access your folder at different levels. Here’s my folder with a new doc and 2 files in it, one photo and one PDF. You can add any type of file, just note that some audio and video files are usually large and they make take a long time to upload, plus you’ll have to watch how much space you have if you need to upload a lot of them. You can see the storage used and remaining on the left.
More task/project management software to explore if you’re feeling either ambitious or like you’d like to feel like you’re regaining some control over something. You can use any of these to work on business or personal projects. And ALL of these have awesome free versions:
I hope any of this information helps you stay connected in some way at this time, whether it be for work or for personal. Feel free to leave a comment below with your favorite software for staying in touch virtually or if you have any questions.
Here’s to hoping we all weather the storm well and it doesn’t last too long. ???