Power Arranger: Slack Attack!

This article was written by Jessica Small, Senior Program Manager, Elastic Communications & Events Inc.

Welcome back, fellow power arrangers. This is episode 2 in a series of blog posts focused on software tools that will make your life as an event planner easier. My name is Jessica Small, Senior Program Manager at Elastic Communications & Events. I am a Power Arranger, and your host for this series!

Last month, we said “hello” to Trello, a virtual shared whiteboard and post-it notes application on steroids. This month I am introducing you to Slack, a modern communications application for teams.

Slack Attack!

Slack is free to use, and comes with a web application, and desktop and mobile applications, so you can get to Slack from whichever device you are on! You can find Slack online at https://slack.com/, and you can download the apps here: desktop, iOS or Android.

Slack 101

Slack is an online application which brings together a number of powerful aspects of team collaboration: discussion and communication across multiple projects, the ability to search those discussions and associated documents, and communication notifications.

Slack has (3) main concepts – Teams, Channels, Direct Messages.

  • Team –  A single Slack Team is a place where multiple people will gather to work together on a related set of items.
  • Channel – A channel is place for the team to have a conversation about a specific subject.
  • Direct Message – A direct message is a place for one on one conversation.

To bring this to life, I have created a Power Arranger Slack account and have included examples of what Teams, Channels and Direct Messages might look like.

Teams

When you first start using Slack, you will either create a new “Team”, or join an existing “Team”.  You might have a team for your whole company, or you might create a team for a specific client or event. You can be a part of as many teams as you need.

For this article, I will use a single team as an example – team “Power Arranger!”.

Example:

The example team “Power Arranger!” was structured as a company vs. client team.  I have created Slack Channels to mirror the Trello Boards we created last time.

Channels

So, now you have created or joined a team, what’s next? Well, you need to find somewhere fun to hang out and communicate!

The main mode of communication within a Slack team is a channel. A Slack team will have lots and lots of channels. Usually, each channel will have a specific purpose, perhaps covering a particular client or event, or maybe a general subject of interest.

There are (2) types of channels – Public and Private, depending on what you need to discuss and who you would like to include.

Slack public channels are open discussion groups which anyone can join. Discussion flows freely, and team members can come and go as they please. Team members can even create new channels if they want, when new subjects come up. Public channels have the # symbol next to them in your channel list. Most of your channels will probably be public.

Slack private channels are invitation only, and team members cannot join without an invite. You might create private channels for a sensitive conversation, or simply something you want to keep to a small number of people.

Example:

Slack creates two channels for a team by default: #general and #random. Most teams use #general for non-specific conversation related to work, and #random for fun and chit-chat. Your channels will appear in the Slack application in alphabetical order.

Again, mirroring our Trello Boards, our “Power Arranger” Team has a #channel for different topics.

  • 2016accountsandtaxes
  • event_morphinconf
  • event_zordonawards
  • #general
  • #random

You can tell that a channel is unread when it is bold in the channel list.

Direct Messages

You are probably already familiar with the general concept of direct messages. If you have ever sent a text message, used Twitter DMs, or Facebook Messenger, you have sent direct messages to your colleagues and friends. Slack direct messages follow the exact same concept – you can send private messages to one or more people without creating a channel.

Similar to channels, Slack creates a default Direct Message with “slackbot”.  Slackbot is a help tool where you can ask questions about how slack works and get immediate answers.

You can also see which of your team members are online from the green icon.

Example:

  • slackbot
  • Power Arranger
  • Rescue Arrangers
  • Walker, Texas Arranger

In Summary

I know what you’re thinking. That’s nice, but how is this helping?

Well, here’s where the magic happens – communication and collaboration! You’ve got a team and some channels, so now you are ready to communicate with reckless abandon!

Next, pick a channel, and type something in the text entry box at the bottom. Press enter. Now you’re Slacking!

The rest of your team will immediately see your message in their own Slack window. They can respond, adding to the conversation. Even if someone joins late, they can see the history, and participate.

You aren’t limited to just messaging. In a later blog post, we will go into more detail about all of the different things you can share in a Slack discussion.

Head over to  https://slack.com/ and sign up for an account. Create a team, invite others and experiment with adding channels and start direct messaging. You will see how easy and natural this is.

Next Time

In a later post, we’ll go into much more detail regarding what you can post into a channel, how you can create notifications for important messages, upload and share document and how to favourite and search messages.

Next month, however, we’re going to turn our attention back to Trello. We will discuss some real life use cases, and tricks and tips this Power Arranger uses to make her life amazing.

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