While Slack began as a workplace instant messaging tool, it has since grown in popularity as a way for anyone to stay in touch with a group of friends, colleagues, or family. If you have a paid plan, you can even create in-the-moment “huddles” in which two or more people can switch from text to audio.
Although Slack is primarily designed for group collaboration, it also includes tools for one-on-one communication. In this section, we’ll go over some of the ways you can have a private text, audio, or video conversation with one other person using Slack’s free version.
CONVERSATIONS BY TEXT
Using the Slack desktop application
If you’ve recently sent someone a personal message, their name will appear in the left-hand sidebar under “Direct messages.” Click on their name, type your message in the bottom box, and hit enter/return to sender.
If the name isn’t already in the sidebar, click the + next to “Direct messages.” Enter the name of the person to whom you want to send a message. As you type, the person’s name (assuming they’re in that Slack workspace) will appear in the results, and you can click on it. Enter your message in the bottom box and press enter/return to send it.
You can also start a message by clicking the pencil icon next to your workspace and username in the top left corner of the screen. In the top bar, type the name of the person you want to message. Fill in the message in the box at the bottom of the screen and hit enter or return to send it.
Making use of the mobile app:
- Tap on “DMs” at the bottom of the screen to find a history of your direct messages if you want to continue a previous conversation or find someone you’ve already conversed with.
- You can also do this by tapping the pencil icon at the bottom of the Home screen. This will bring up the “New Message” screen, where you can choose from a list of people you’ve previously messaged, or type in the name of someone you want to send a direct message to.
CONVERSATIONS IN VOICE
Slack also includes a calling feature. The free version allows you to make voice and video calls with one other person. You can also do group calls with up to 15 people and share your screen on a video call if you have a paid subscription to one of Slack’s plans.
Using the Slack desktop app:
- Start a direct message or a channel.
- Click the phone icon in the upper right corner.
- To begin recording, click the camera icon. If you have a paid plan, you can also use the “Share Screen” icon.
Making use of a mobile app:
- Begin a direct message with the person with whom you want to communicate.
- On an Android device, tap the information icon in the upper right. Tap on the person’s name at the top of the page if you’re using an iPhone.
- To initiate a call, tap the call icon (the person will get a notification that somebody is trying to call them)
- To make it a video call, tap the camera icon.
Slack introduced Huddles, which are audio conversations that you can join in the middle of a text conversation with one or more people (as opposed to the audio calls, which are just a bit more formal). Unfortunately, you can only access them if you have a paid account.
If you do, starting a Huddle is a breeze. (Note: You can create a Huddle with a single person, a group of people, or a channel; for this article, we’ll focus on one-on-one conversations.)
Using the desktop application:
- Ascertain that you are engaged in a text conversation with the person with whom you wish to huddle.
- There will be a Huddle icon to the left of the person’s name (it will look like a broadcasting mic) and a toggle to the right at the bottom of the left column. Use that to activate the Huddle feature, and you should be able to converse right away.
During a Huddle, you can add running captions if you’re using the desktop app.
- While you’re speaking, you’ll notice text just above the Huddle icon telling you who is speaking, and text beneath that telling you how many people are in the Huddle. Select the second line.
- A pop-up will display who is in the Huddle, with the person speaking highlighted. In the upper right corner, click the three dots.
- Turn on captions by clicking the “Turn on captions” button.
- You’ll see a larger pop-up box with the conversation’s captions.
While there was the occasional hiccup when two people spoke at the same time, we found the captions to be mostly accurate.
Finally, during a Huddle, you can share your screen by clicking on the monitor icon to the left of the toggle.
Making use of the mobile app:
- Ascertain that you are engaged in a text conversation with the person with whom you wish to Huddle.
- On the top line, to the right of the person’s name, tap the Huddle icon.
- That’s it! Unfortunately, the mobile app does not support captioning or screen sharing.