GP Provider Support Unit, Birmingham and Solihull

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Here are tips on software for supporting collaborative meetings

  • Online polling and comments board
    • slido.com  This system is flexible (choose your own link for the meeting), it integrates well with websites and PowerPoint, the mobile app allows the presenter to see results as well as control the on-screen display, and the pricing is good. 
    • Mentimeter  Very similar to Slido but slightly less flexible and it doesn’t integrate as well with PowerPoint
    • PollEverywhere – amazing but quite pricey
  • Short links. These turn a web link into one that’s shorter and easier to put up on screen for others to see and type in themselves. 
    • bitly.com  – one of the many services available, but handy because its free account is very usable
    • PSU website – the WordPress system has a plugin called “URL shortener” which creates shortlinks

  • QR codes. There are lots of services which will create a QR code for any web link you provide.
    • QRstuff.com  –  good, fast and it doesn’t require an account / login

  • Live document editing: Create a document in Microsoft Office and get the share link – check it’s set to allow anyone to edit. Then make a short link as above, to make it easier for people to see it and type in the address. 
    • This can handle multiple people reading and contributing to a document simultaneously, and everyone sees everyone else’s contributions live.
    • More info about this is here.
    • If that doesn’t work with your installation of Office, Google Docs can work well. Note though that people sometimes seem to have login problems, some of the editing functionality is more confusing than Office, and you can’t draw with a touchscreen or mobile device

  • Creating flow charts / hierarchies / other diagrams.
    • diagrams.net is brilliant. It’s completely free, and works in a web browser (inc on a mobile phone!) as well as a desktop app. No login or account is required. 
    • You can jump into it quicky, but it has some moderately advanced functions as well such as database linking and automated script-based formatting. It’s not quite as full-featured as Visio but it won’t drive you insane or break the bank.
    • Diagrams can be exported in a wide range of formats, including “HTML” which allows you to embed the diagram in a web page. 
    • Any diagram can have multiple tabs (like ‘pages’ or ‘slides’ in a document) – and you can right-click any object to add a link to tabs. This creates an interactive diagram, which will stay interactive if you export to HTML.
    • If you save the file in OneDrive or Google Drive and set the access permissions to allow anyone to edit, you can have multiple people collaborating on the same file together, without needing a login. That’s really handy for workshops, etc. 

  • Collaborative drawing and brainstorming. For easier interactive diagramming, there are lots of options.
    • Microsoft Whiteboard links to MS Teams. It’s very basic but also very simple.
    • Lucidspark is enormously flexible and works well on laptops and mobile devices.  To get all the group facilitation functions, you need a paid-for “team” account (about £30 a month for 1-3 users). 
    • Miro.com is simpler and cheaper, with some nice presentation features
    • Mural.co is similar to Miro but slightly less flexible

  • Mindmapping
    • Mindmeister is a fully online mind mapping system which provides for easy collaboration. It is possible to add tags and other information to items, and there is a modest range of common export options. 
    • MindManager is a very full-featured visual management system. It is more expensive than most and lacks a decent iPhone app (the Android app is superb)