5 Essential Tips for Keeping Team Conversations Organized
Turn your Twist discussions into a central source of team knowledge that everyone has access to
Originally published on the official Doist blog
Teamwork is messy. Whether you’re fixing all the last-minute bugs for a time-sensitive product launch or debating every point in a high-level strategy document, it takes a lot of back and forth to make progress.
But once your team pulls through and your project is complete, the discussions you had along the way are often forgotten. That’s a lost opportunity. Team discussions are a record of key decisions and often include your team’s most inspired ideas.
It’s a major roadblock if your team conversations are disorganized: How are you supposed to build on your best ideas when you can’t even find them?
Twist is designed to solve that problem by organizing your communication, but to really feel the benefits it’s essential to use Twist in a consistent way that makes the most sense for your team. Follow these five guidelines for keeping your team conversations organized and intuitive to find.
1. Use intuitive and consistent channel conventions
The most impactful thing you can do to keep conversations organized in Twist is to use channels consistently; everyone on your team will know where to post and where to find what they need.
If you’re not already using them, getting started with channels is straightforward: create a channel, give it a name, invite the relevant team members, and then post your first conversation thread — ideally a welcome thread that explains the channel’s focus. Your team members can easily reply to the thread and go from there.
Later, you’ll be able to find discussions by navigating back to the channel and browsing through threads or by searching with keywords.
Anybody on your team can find and join your channel unless you mark the channel private, but it’s useful for your teammates if you keep as much information public as possible.
What’s in a (channel) name?
Since channels are where you’ll have most of your discussions, take the time to name them consistently so people can understand the channel’s content at a glance and join the ones that are relevant to them.
First, figure out what types of channels your team will need. For example, your channels may be organized by:
Team: #Development, #Support, #Finance
Project: #New Website, #Year End Campaign, #New Onboarding
Topic: #Inspiration, #Westworld Analysis, #Book Club
You can even keep your channel types organized by color. For example, at Doist the team can quickly recognize Twist-related channels as blue and Todoist-related channels as red.
If your team works in periodic cycles, try using prefixes to organize your channels by time frame. For example, you could create a channel called #Q1 | New Website for work done on that project during the first quarter. That way, all your Q1 project channels will appear together in your channel list.
Keep Twist tidy by archiving old channels
Of course, channels won’t be relevant forever. Declutter your team’s channel list by archiving channels that are no longer active. Your team will still be able to search and read threads inside archived channels, and you can always unarchive a channel that becomes active again.
Your Twist will grow as fast as your team works. By establishing clear channel conventions for your team to follow, you’ll ensure key discussions don’t get buried and forgotten.
2. When in doubt, start a thread
If channels are where you’ll have conversations, threads are the conversations. In Twist, threads are designed to be longer, more thoughtful, and more permanent than one-line-at-a-time messages. If you’re ever in doubt about whether to start a thread or message, start a thread so your conversation is easy to find later.
To start a thread, begin by choosing the right channel. Then simply come up with the thread subject, select the relevant people to be notified, write up your thoughts, and post it.
Tip: Don’t worry if you don’t post it in the right channel — you can move a thread between channels later.
Building a team-wide thread habit
It’s important that your team knows when to start a thread, especially as you first get started — here are a few examples:
- Kick off and discuss your new design plan with a thread subject named “Design Proposal”.
- Ask for team-wide feedback on your running app with a “Runnr 2.0 Feedback” thread.
- Inform the development team about a login bug in the #Runnr 2.0 Bugs channel: “[Android] Can’t properly login using Google”.
A good way to build a team-wide habit of using threads: if you’re tempted to send an email, post a thread in Twist instead.
If a conversation does end up happening in email, no worries. You can forward the email to the relevant Twist channel to create a new thread and continue the discussion there.
Search for your topic first
You don’t want Twist to get cluttered, so encourage your team to check if a topic has already been discussed before posting a new thread. Do this by searching the relevant channel by keyword or by thread subject. If you find an existing thread matching your topic, reply to the thread to continue the conversation.
Use clear, attractive thread subjects
Threads quickly multiply so the more precise your thread subjects, the easier they’ll be for others to find later. Use these tips to distinguish your threads:
Keep it short and sweet: Some people will be using Twist on their phones, where the thread subjects are truncated to around 30 characters, so try to front load the important words:
Add prefixes: Just like with channels, categorize your threads using prefixes. For example, our support team identifies which platform is experiencing a particular bug by using brackets, like [Android] or [Windows]. You could also use prefixes to refer to time: We use [C5] to represent the current cycle in our Doist Objectives system.
Make threads stand out with emojis: Add some character(s) to your posts. ✍️🌞
3. Star, link, and otherwise keep track of important conversations
By developing a few simple habits in Twist, you can keep track of the threads that are important to you. Here are four of our favorites:
- Keep an eye on important conversations even when you’re not notified by starring a thread. Starred threads are all be gathered in a single place, so you can easily reference them and see what’s new.
- Share a thread with teammates by copying the link to a thread. Share the link directly or include it as a reference in another thread or a document. For example, our design team includes links to relevant conversations in their design proposals. By cross-referencing threads, you can ensure that relevant information is never lost.
- If you want to re-read a thread later, but it’s not a big enough deal to star it, you can mark it as unread to keep it top of mind.
- Or turn a thread into an action by adding a thread to Todoist so you can easily come back to it when you’re ready to read and respond.
4. Make Twist your team’s central information hub with integrations
If you’re using other apps to communicate with your team, use integrations to automatically bring that information into Twist.
Connecting with Todoist
When working with your team on a Todoist project, you can keep up to date on the latest developments by streaming project updates directly into Twist.
Connect to any other app you use with Zapier
You can also integrate with Zapier to bring updates from thousands of other tools into Twist:
- Start a thread from Twitter search mentions so your social media team can discuss and respond collaboratively.
- Post a comment when any file in a Google Drive folder is updated so everyone knows when to check on changes. They can discuss and give feedback right on the same thread.
- Post a thread comment every time you receive a new email that matches a search so your sales team can keep leads organized in a single, shared space rather than forwarding emails.
5. Find anything by searching with keywords and filters
Even with well structured channels and threads, your team’s Twist will eventually grow to the point where it becomes hard to track down a specific conversation. That’s when you can use search to quickly locate what you need.
If you know the exact words you’re looking for, simply enter them into the search field to pull up a list of threads and messages that include those words.
If you can’t track it down using just keywords but know that the conversation you’re looking for is in a specific channel or was posted by a specific person, use search filters to narrow your results.
The more that your channels are public, the more powerful search becomes as your team can find what they need without having to ask for it.
By keeping your conversations organized from the start, your team saves a lot of time. Less searching, less duplicated conversations, and easier access to key information helps people do their jobs faster. On top of that, when you empower your team to easily find what they need, people can build upon each other’s work. Nothing is ever lost.
Share your tricks for stay keeping things organized in Twist on Twitter @twistappteam.
Is your team struggling to work together using email? Check out how to replace 100% of your internal emails with Twist.