Note: This article is part of the How to win a Hackathon series.
As important as choosing your teammates is, communicating with them is just as crucial. Some of you may all be in the same location, but for both my hackathons we were spread out. The designer was in Portland both years, and the second year the additional designer was in Michigan. We never had more than two members in the same room.
With Josh, the lead designer both years, I never even spoke to him on the phone until a year after the first Rumble (in preparation for the second). All our communication was done online, without audio or video.
We mostly used Campfire for all our discussions the first time around, including both pre-hackathon planning and during hackathon communication. Campfire allowed us to share images with each other inline very nicely, go back and see notes from past conversations, and collaborate in both real-time and delayed time.
The second time around we used Skype chat (I can’t remember why over campfire) and had some phone calls, but regardless of the technology used, we stayed in constant contact throughout the Rumble, and even prior to it as we formed the plan.
You can also use tools such as dropbox to share files and I highly recommend getting all teammates using github, not just the developers. It will save you a lot of time.
The key to effective communication and collaboration is very simply: committing to the necessity of it. All members must understand how crucial it is; then, stay calm and patient in communication, and stay committed to the goal of effective collaboration.