I remember my first job in the beginning of the 1990s, in which a shared whiteboard on your network was the cool thing. Multiple users could simultaneously review, edit, or draw on the presentation.
Since then, online collaboration tools have come an incredibly long way in terms of ease of use, functionality, and availability. People can now access Web-based collaboration platforms and meet virtually anywhere they go at any time. Here are a few of my favorites.
Doc sharing: Google Docs and Microsoft Office Live Workspace (among numerous others) allow you to create documents and have many people access and work on them from wherever they are. Your agendas, presentations, spreadsheets, meeting notes, or project updates can be managed simply and for free. Try sharing your upcoming agenda for comments, additions, or suggestions about what needs to be accomplished in this meeting.
Basecamp: A leading online project collaboration tool and fantastic system from the company 37 Signals. (Also, a cool book from its founders, titled Rework, has some great content on “Toxic Meetings.”) While not a free system, it's very affordable and packed with features that provide real value for any project team that is meeting virtually or in person on a regular basis.
Web meetings: Wow, too many to mention, but you've likely heard of several of the big players in the market, including WebEx and GoToMeeting. These have become widely used in many situations ...