How to streamline meeting document collaboration with G Suite

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In late 2018, Google made a seemingly small change to Hangouts Meet—now you can access documents attached to a Google Calendar event when you have a conference. Fundamentally, fast access to files makes Hangouts Meet a much better collaboration tool.

SEE: Cost comparison calculator: G Suite vs. Office 365 (Tech Pro Research)

Before, Hangouts Meet let people collaborate with video and audio, and also allowed participants to present via screen sharing. Now, the combination of Google Calendar, Google Drive, and Hangouts Meet can change how groups of people collaborate. The following practices can help your team make the most of these three G Suite apps.

Add conferencing to Calendar events

Make sure the event invitees can join with Hangouts Meet, no matter where they are, by adding conferencing to your Calendar event. In most organizations that use G Suite, you’ll have the option to add conferencing when you create a new calendar event. On the web, choose More Options when you add a new event. In Google Calendar on Android or iOS, scroll down and tap Add Conferencing in the event details (Figure A).

Figure A

Android screenshots: (left) Calendar event without conferencing; (right) Calendar event with Hangouts Meet enabled. Arrow between the two.

First, add conferencing to a Google Calendar event.

A G Suite administrator may also change a setting to always enable conferencing for new Calendar events. To enable this, sign in to the Admin console at https://admin.google.com, choose Apps, G Suite, Calendar, and Sharing Settings. Look for Video Calls, and check the box to Automatically Add Video Calls To Events Created By A User.

Add attachment(s) from Drive

After you enable conferencing, on the same screen you can add attachments to your Calendar event from Google Drive. Select the paper clip icon on the web, or tap Add Attachment in the Google Calendar mobile apps (Figure B).

Figure B

Two Calendar event screenshots: (left) No attachments added, (right) Google Doc attached to event

Next, add attachments to your Calendar event.

Choose a Google Doc, Sheet, Slide, Image, PDF, or other item from Google Drive to attach to your event. After you select one or more items to add, you may be prompted to adjust the sharing settings for the files; you may choose to allow your event invitees to view, comment on, or edit the items. To maximize participation, you may want to allow people full edit access to Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides you share (Figure C).

Figure C

Screenshot of web invitation prompt to adjust file access permissions (e.g., view, comment, or edit).

You may be prompted to allow access to attachments for meeting guests. The web prompt is shown. Mobile prompts allow you to select similar file share options.

After you enable conferencing and add any attachments, save the Calendar event and the system will send invitations and adjust attachment permissions.

One tip: You might consider creating and sharing a new Google Doc for most events; this gives the participants the ability to collaborate on text or capture ideas together when they meet. Just create a Doc, title it something relevant to the event, such as: Planning-2019-01-15.

Access attachment(s) in Hangouts Meet

While conferencing with Hangouts Meet on the web, select the paper clip icon in the lower left of the screen, then choose Attachments to see a list of all items available to meeting participants. Select a file, and it will open in a new tab (Figure D).

Figure D

Two Android screenshots: (left) Meet sub-menu showing event info and item attachments; (right) Shows opened attachment, in this case a Google Doc.

While in a Hangouts Meet session, participants may access items previously attached to the Google Calendar event.

If you’ve joined the session with a mobile Hangouts Meet app, the item will open, video will pause, and audio conferencing will continue. For example, if you open a Google Doc with edit permissions, you can edit while you continue an audio conference about the content. Essentially, you can collaborate on Docs, Sheets, and/or Slides with a group of people, and switch back to video to see people’s expressions or when you’re done with content review.

What’s your experience?

The combination of Calendar attachments of Drive documents with Hangouts Meet links makes it easier to collaborate with your team—no matter where you are.

If you use G Suite, do you often attach items to Calendar events? And if so, how has easy access to those items from Hangouts Meet changed your meeting workflow? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@awolber).

Also see

Illustration of Google Calendar with Doc, Sheet, and Slides attached; arrow from Calendar to Hangouts Meet icon; Arrow from Meet icon to attachments

Image: Andy Wolber/TechRepublic



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