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How to use Slack's huddle feature (and why you should)

Here's a rundown of what Slack huddles are, why they can be an effective collaboration tool, and how to start one.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer on
Woman doing a video call with headphones
iStockphoto/Getty images

When was the last time you stood around the office having an informal discussion with other coworkers? 

Those (often) impromptu meetings can do a lot of good. Maybe one of you comes up with a brilliant idea that your other workers (or family members) build on. Or maybe it's just the camaraderie of interaction. 

Whatever positivity comes out of those little gatherings, it's impossible not to recognize their value.

But as more and more people work remotely or are too busy to make their way to the break room, what can you do? If you use Slack, there's an interesting feature, called huddles, that tries to recreate those discussions via audio, video, multi-person screen sharing, dedicated notes, and emoji reactions.

Also: The best collaboration apps 

And the latest Slack release brings even more features to huddles, such as:

  • Video or audio meetings

  • Huddles can now be opened in a new window

  • Ability to start a dedicated notes thread that automatically saves to the channel

  • Multi-person screen sharing

  • Topics to be set so everyone knows what the discussion is about

  • Custom backgrounds

  • Emoji reactions and stickers

Don't think of huddles as scheduled meetings and atypical conference calls (which generally follow a schedule). These are for those times when you want to grab some team members and chat in real time about something. Maybe you're working on something and you hit a snag. You have three or four team members working on the same thing and you want to get their input. Start a huddle and have at it.

One thing to note is that although huddles are available to free accounts, you are limited to only two people per huddle. With paid Slack accounts, huddles can have up to 50 members. 

Slack huddles can be started in either channels or DMs. The thing to remember is if you start a huddle in a very populated channel, everyone in that channel will have access to the huddle. To only huddle with specific people, you have to take a more cautious approach. Let me show you.

Also: How to integrate Google Drive into Slack

What is a Slack huddle and how do you use it?

Requirements

The only thing you must have is a valid Slack account. You can start huddles in both the web and desktop versions, as well as the mobile apps for Android and iOS. I will be demonstrating using the Slack desktop app, but the process is similar in all of its incarnations.

1. Open a Slack workspace

The first thing you must do is either click on a channel or a DM.

2. Start the huddle

Regardless if you're on the desktop, web, or mobile app, you should see a small headphones icon. Tap that icon to start the huddle.

The Slack huddles button as seen in the desktop app.

Starting a Slack huddle is just a click away.

Image: Jack Wallen

3. Add people to the huddle

Let's say you started the huddle in a DM with only one other person. As the huddle is open, you'll see your profile icon and next to it is the Invite People button. Click that button to reveal a popup, where you can invite others to the huddle.

The other icons around your profile image include (counter-clockwise from the right corner):

  • Show thread
  • Pop-out mini window
  • Leave huddle
  • Share screen
  • Start and stop video
  • Start and stop audio

Also: How to integrate Google Calendar with Slack

The Slack huddles configuration section.

A huddle is afoot.

Image: Jack Wallen

4. Click the three-dot menu for more options

If you click the three-dot menu between Leave huddle and Share screen, you'll find a popup menu with options like Invite people, Give feedback, Go to direct message, Add topic, and more.

Once the huddle is complete, click the Leave button and it's over.

The huddles options popup menu.

Even more huddles features can be found.

Image: Jack Wallen

And that, my friends, is all there is to using Slack huddles. Make the most of this feature for more efficient communication, collaboration, and camaraderie.

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