Slack UI on mobile device with a hand representing five ways to use Slack best

Top five tips for getting started in Slack

Get started in Slack with confidence using these quick tips for communicating and working in Slack channels

We created this guide for anyone new to Slack (welcome!), so please feel free to pass this on to your team members as well. We’ll start off with a few foundational items and then provide our top five tips. 

The basics

Before you start working in Slack with your team, take a few minutes to set yourselves up for success.

  1. Get the whole team on the Slack apps for desktop and mobile. This ensures that everyone can reach each other and unlocks the easy, real-time communication that Slack is known for. 
  2. Help your colleagues to find you by uploading a clear profile photo and filling in your profile details.
Slack UI showing how to edit your profile, including picture, name, title, time zone and phone number

Get started

Download your Slack apps now. When you’re logged in, click on your name in Slack to edit your profile and picture. See more guidance on our Get started page.

1. Try moving all conversations for a key project into Slack for 72 hours

Why it matters

Slack works best when the whole team commits to sharing updates, files and other important information in dedicated Slack channels. Channels are how work is organised in Slack. Rather than scattering team conversations about a project or topic into many disparate email threads, channels provide a single place for teamwork that can easily be searched and that anyone can join or leave as needed. With the whole team working in channels: 

  • Everyone has access to the latest information, saving you time on managing communications so that you can focus on problem-solving and decision-making
  • You get responses faster, eliminating long waits for an email reply 
  • Files, decisions and people are easy to find, thanks to organised channels and powerful search
  • Project and conversation histories are retained in channel, so when new people join, they can get up to speed quickly

Here’s a video that goes deeper into why channels are a better way to work:

How to move your work into Slack like a pro

Moving a project into a channel is simple:

  1. Create a channel for your project, ideally using a naming convention such as #proj-website-launch (‘proj’ = project), so that conversations are easy to find as they grow 
  2. Add all the key files that your team needs for the project or topic
  3. Add all the team members who are involved
  4. Share (or request!) the latest update on the project or topic using @mentions (see the next tip) to reach team members you have a question for or would like to notify  

Commit to communicating only via Slack for the next few days so that you can really get used to working in channels together.  

Give it a go

Create a channel for a key project or topic in your latest workspace. To learn more about channels, take a look at our new Slack curriculum, which covers channel basics plus some fun, social ways to use them to strengthen team bonds.

2. Reach each other with @mentions

Why it matters

Work often involves waiting for reviews or approvals before you can move forwards. When matters are time-sensitive or you want to address a specific person in Slack, you can grab their attention in any channel by mentioning their username preceded by an @ symbol. They will then get a notification. 

Slack UI showing how to use the ‘at’ mention to organise tasks and owners

How it works

After meetings on any project, head into the project’s dedicated channel in Slack and post an update for the team. Make sure that you format key information into a bullet-point list, such as: 

  • Decisions that have been made 
  • Next steps, with due dates. For each next step, make sure you @mention the team member(s) who agreed to take them on so that they receive the message and can confirm that they’re accountable 
  • Any outstanding questions that you’d like to discuss in the channel with the larger team

What else can you do in Slack?

There’s more to discover in our guide to understanding your actions in Slack.

3. One-click responses and approvals: say it with emoji

Why it matters

Emoji can be a lot of fun, but in Slack they’re serious business too. Look out for opportunities to use reactions in place of short messages that might otherwise clutter conversations in a channel. Here are some useful reactions and their meanings to start with:

  • 👀 = ‘I’ve seen your message’
  • ✅ or ✔ = ‘Approved’ or ‘I’ve finished the training’
  • = ‘I agree’
  • 👏 = ‘Nice work!’ or ‘Well done!’

How it works

We use emoji reactions all the time to speed up work. In the example below, you can see how:

  • Seeking feedback, a designer has shared a mock-up of a design in channel 
  • Six team members used the 👀 emoji to let the designer know that they’ve reviewed the artwork, so he knows that he doesn’t need to follow up (he can hover over the 👀 emoji to see who responded)
  • The ✅ emoji is used by the approver to indicate that the work has been approved 
Slack product UI showing how to share a file and provide feedback

Get down to business with emoji reactions and custom emoji

Find more tips on how to use and remove emoji reactions. You can also explore how to add your very own custom emoji so that you can tailor reactions to your team’s needs. 

4. Keep yourself in the know

Why it matters

Slack aims to help you stay focused on your core projects and priorities by giving you strong control over what you’re notified about and when. Customise your notifications to:

  • Set working hours with your team. Outside these hours, you are on ‘do not disturb’, and messages sent in this period will arrive the next morning unless the sender decides that it’s urgent enough to notify you
  • Set up keywords that you want to be alerted to when they’re mentioned anywhere (such as a customer name or ‘free pizza’)
  • Choose which conversations you want to receive notifications for and which you’d like to turn down or mute

Give it a go

Head to Slack and set your notifications to keep track of conversations and projects that matter to you.

5. Add the tools that you use every day

Why it matters

With Slack apps and integrations, you can turn Slack into a hub for all your work tools, saving you time from switching between multiple tabs and apps each day.

How it works

Every organisation is different, of course, but at Slack we’ve found that a few types of apps add huge value for every person:

Slack UI image with app partner icons such as Google, Zoom, Jira and Salesforce

Ready to add apps and integrations?

Here’s our list of essential apps for Slack (hint: the Giphy app tends to be a real crowd-pleaser for teams). 

OK, we’ll let you get back to work. (On Slack, that is.)

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