(This post was reviewed for accuracy and relevancy on 7-5-15.)

My client was amazed.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” he exclaimed to me recently, as we were working together to draft his responses to an important questionnaire. (As his consulting wordsmith, my role was not to create the responses, but to help him express his ideas in clear, accessible language.)

Google Docs plus Jonathan Lehrer's "live drafting" technique add up to effective brainstorming.

Google Docs plus Jonathan Lehrer’s “live drafting” technique add up to effective brainstorming.

The client was talking about my technique of “live drafting,” which I recently described (Use Google docs for live collaboration on documents).

Live Drafting is a brainstorming technique that uses a large screen to make  collaboration quicker and more effective for team members. Rather than relying on flipcharts or dry-erase boards, I connect my computer to a projector and write or edit language live on the screen while all the participants watch.

Live drafting with Google Docs

This client, a successful engineer and businessman, surely has been involved in brainstorming, but the revelation was how Google Docs improved the process.

The statement that I had created as a Google Docs document was projected from my PC onto the wall of his office. I showed him how to log into his Gmail account and open the link to the Google Doc I had just sent him.

In a moment, he was able to simultaneously edit what I was writing.

“How would you like to answer Question 1?” I asked him. He answered verbally and I wordsmithed his ideas as I typed. When I missed his point slightly, he simply started entering his own text on his iPad, right into the live Google doc, and right onto the screen.

We were collaborating verbally and non-verbally at the same time.

Co-editing a document on Google Docs (or any other similar cloud-based service) is a liberating experience for those who have previously used only the looking-over-the-shoulder technique.

In this case, a different outcome superseded the client’s learning experience. A few weeks after we worked together on his messaging, he won the election by a comfortable margin. He’s well on his way to serving the voters in his community.

Using Google Docs to collaborate remotely

A variant on this example is the related technique of collaborating on a document when the team members are not in the same room. With Google Docs, you and your writing/editing partner halfway around the world can see what each other is doing in real time if you’re working simultaneously. You can chat about the project in an adjacent window; and later you can look back and see who made which revision.

It’s a lot more effective than emailing MS Word files back and forth. Track Changes is fun, but Google Docs can get the job done quicker.

Let me know if you’d like help drafting an important statement or maximizing collaboration to achieve consensus on your team.