As we move into a text-based future — a future that recognizes how soul-crushing it is to talk on the phone — it's important to learn new communication skills. Like training remote employees by hovering your cursor over some pixels and grunting, "click here" — with your fingers.
Enter join.me, a meeting and collaboration tool that helps small businesses communicate online. Its ability to schedule meetings that sync with your calendar, provide call-in lines, and record presentations is awesome, but join.me's stand-out feature has to be screen-sharing. Screen-sharing makes it super easy to explain computer things to people who are far away. After all, relying on phone calls and words alone can be a bit of a Sisyphean task. "See the thing that looks like a wheelbarrow in the upper, upper-lefthand corner? Right click that, then pick the third item in the drop-down menu, then drop-down again, and again, until you're in Hades."
Anyone who values her time shouldn't waste it by playing "Is it bigger than a bread box?" And while my Netflix activity could give the impression that I don't value my time at all, I do value not having to spend an hour on the phone discussing the inner-workings of content management systems. Which is part of what I do at Studio@Gawker. Studio@Gawker is Gawker Media's in-house creative team. We're typically tasked with the creative execution of ad campaigns that run across all eight Gawker Media sites. Like this one.
If you clicked here from the front page, you might have noticed this post was promoted by join.me. Indeed, you are reading this right now because my job is to write about Gawker Media's advertisers (of which join.me is obviously — and thankfully! — one). Typically though, my job doesn't require that I personally try our advertiser's wares. So this is a special post!
How did it come to be? Well, join.me is a client of ours that was interested in helping small businesses improve their communication methods. We documented both foodie startup Blue Apron and interactive help desk Groove as they used join.me to enhance their businesses, but we needed one last small business to feature. So we were like, "Why not us?" By "we," I mean our ad team. And much like Katniss volunteering for tribute, I offered to use join.me for some meetings I had on my agenda.
Meetings that involved Kinja! Now, most of you know your way around Kinja, but for a new user it might take a little bit of hand-holding to get all the nuances figured out. So on a grayscale Thursday, I asked a couple freelancers and a recent hire to gather 'round the warm glow of their respective computer screens and showed them what's what by using join.me to share my screen with them. I was even able to choose which window they had permission to view, as to hide my GIF-covered, screenshot-ridden desktop and the shameful hoarding of tabs taking place in my other windows.
From there, I showed everyone how to format a post, create custom bylines, and search throughout the entire Kinja universe for interesting and relevant stories that might not get face time on one of Gawker Media's better known sites. And it took...nine minutes?
Here's why: there were no setbacks due to people using outdated browsers or accidentally looking at logged-out screens. There wasn't anyone crying out with that frustrating, "Wait, I don't see it!" while the other five people on the call sigh and look at their watches until the one lost person catches up. I was able to effectively control the course of the meeting, and what would normally take an hour took a fraction of the time.
Imagine a meeting that ends twenty minutes early not because the person leading it was woefully unprepared, but because they were able to show rather than tell. That's a miracle for someone who a) hates talking on the phone in the first place and b) has better things to do, like create...or read the websites she works for. (What? That's also part of my job! Sorta.)
If you're looking to cut down the resources you spend on conference calls (and you should be), look into join.me. We don't have the technology to hold meetings telepathically just yet, but sharing your computer screen is like, almost the same thing.
Stephanie Georgopulos is a Senior Content Producer at Gawker Media.