5 ways our team uses Around for better meetings
We’re often asked to share how we use Around’s features for our company’s internal communication. Ultimately, many of our features don’t have a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to use them, but are instead meant to be flexible enough to support many different types of teams. Here are some examples of how we utilize Around to make our own meetings better.
1. A room for every occasion
We create rooms for most everything at Around (teams, recurring meetings, hangout areas, gaming, etc) and use names that match the room purpose exactly. In other words, we don’t use generic names like Around Room #1, Around Room #2, etc., but instead leverage the freedom of unlimited rooms to make very purposeful areas (Hallway, User Interviews, Support).
As a result, our team always knows if they’re in the right place for a given meeting. Additionally, if someone’s running a few minutes late, they don’t have the added anxiety of looking around for the room link or worrying if they’ve used the wrong URL.
Because we have many rooms to choose from, it’s also very simple to move a conversation to another area if needed (“Hey, can we jump into the Hallway for a few min?”).
2. Pre-meeting vibes
Imagine opening a door and stepping into a room, only to find that it’s completely silent and ten other people are staring back at you. We’ve all been in the same scenario when joining a video call and the meeting hasn’t quite begun yet.
To reduce this feeling of awkward social pressure, we’ve started using Vibes as part of our pre-meeting routine. Now, as a team member joins the meeting, they can enjoy the music without the pressure to talk to others if they don’t feel like it. Or they can stay focused on wrapping up that last bit of work while waiting for the meeting to start.
Best of all, setting a Vibe starts the meeting off on the right foot, bringing a new definition to “good vibes only.” Some of our team’s personal favorites? Synthwave and Night Drive. ⚡️
3. All the thumbs up emojis
Our team uses the thumbs up emoji a lot. How much is a lot, you ask? During our last Product Design Forum, our team used 2,450 emojis and of those, 2,201 were the thumbs up. That’s almost 90%!
We’ve personally found this emoji to be extremely versatile as it allows us to signal many things very easily without interrupting the person speaking. And while we’ve never formally discussed exactly how we use the thumbs up emoji as a team, this is the subconscious pattern that has emerged:
A single thumbs up is a great way to acknowledge what was said has been heard. It doesn’t necessarily have a positive or negative meaning, but it demonstrates the person being spoken to was paying attention.
Two thumbs up in response typically means “I’ve heard you, and I agree.” It is both acknowledgment and affirmation to the person speaking.
👍 👍 👍 👍 👍 ∞
If an idea is particularly exciting, it gets an absolute barrage of thumbs up. A person spamming the
U key is making the statement, "This idea is amazing" or "I literally could not agree more."
Tip: Quickly give a 👍 in Around by pressing
U. You can also rapidly press this shortcut to achieve that volley effect of constant 👍.
4. Always be hand raising ✋
This is probably the simplest habit that our team observes that has had the greatest impact on meeting quality. Whenever a person in a meeting would like to speak, they first raise their hand using Around’s hand raise feature (
H)and then wait to be called on by whoever is currently speaking. This accomplishes several things:
- Less stress
Because raised hands are respected and everyone is able to provide thoughts before the conversation continues, there is no need to worry that a comment will be missed or that the conversation will shift and it will no longer be relevant.
- Fewer interruptions
On a video call, it can be difficult to judge when a person has finished talking due to issues like lag. As a result, unintentional interruptions are much more prevalent. With raising a hand and waiting to be called on, those issues become a thing of the past.
- More polite
When multiple people have hands raised, the person speaking is able to see how many people are waiting to talk and are therefore encouraged to be concise so everyone has the opportunity to speak.
Tip: Around orders raised hands so you always know who raised their hand first (and who to call on next). And once a person starts talking during their turn, it automatically lowers their hand and updates the turn order, allowing everyone to stay focused on the conversation — and not who raised their hand when.
5. BRB GIFs
Sure, it would be easy to simply turn off the mic and camera whenever a cup of coffee is needed, but where’s the fun in that?
GIFs are an amazing way to easily communicate information to the rest of the team without interrupting the meeting. We use them when someone rings the doorbell, a child needs comforting, we have to go find a computer charger, etc.
In all these situations, a GIF helps the team know what is happening, especially when paired with a short message under your video circle (e.g. “3 min” or “brb”).
T to open the reactions panel, where you can search for that perfect GIF or type a short message to your team.
Are there any interesting ways that you’re using Around for your team? We’d love to hear about them at firstname.lastname@example.org.