In an increasingly remote-first business world, online meetings have become a workday staple at many companies. As the need for teleconferencing has increased, so have the technological capabilities for hosting such meetings. If you’re ready to explore online meeting solutions for your organization, here are our recommendations for useful video technologies and an explainer on why virtual meetings are so beneficial.
An online meeting describes a group of attendees gathering virtually over a technological platform, usually one with video capabilities.
During the COVID era, online meetings became a necessity after stay-at-home orders were issued and remote work became necessary for many companies. Teleconferences became more interactive and even expanded to events, fundraisers and concerts – all held virtually. Video meetings might’ve been rarer pre-pandemic, but they are now an everyday occurrence in our professional and personal lives.
The trend of video conferencing and the need for online meetings isn’t slowing down. In fact, Gartner and Webex estimated that 75% of all midsize companies would continue using a hybrid work model in 2022, with employees working remotely at least part of the time. This environment makes online collaboration – and video conferencing platforms – a necessity.
There are multiple video teleconferencing platforms available today with a range of valuable features. Here are some of the best platforms to keep in mind as you look for the right system for your business.
While the COVID-19 pandemic brought forth many newer platforms, veteran offering Skype has many years under its belt as a top teleconferencing platform and is still a fan favorite among many companies. The user interface is easy to understand, and many people have taken a Skype call with family or friends since the software’s inception in 2003. It’s now common in the workplace too. Skype is easy to access from your browser without needing to install any applications, and Skype Web is an ideal tool for maintaining connections with co-workers near and far.
Webex by Cisco, also known as Cisco Webex, is an all-in-one application combining video conferencing, cloud calling and screen sharing. The web conferencing company states it is trusted by more than 95% of Fortune 500 companies, which is a good indication of its reliability and reputation. The vendor provides inclusive, flexible and secure communication options for businesses of various sizes.
Webex by Cisco is a hybrid platform with the ability to use video conferencing capabilities whether an employee is at home or in the office. Cisco’s cloud phone system allows for easy video chat capabilities no matter your geographic location, and the option to receive or make calls on any device. Read our review of Cisco’s business phone system to learn more about the provider.
If your company uses Gmail for its internal email system, Google Chat, formerly known as Google Hangouts, could be the perfect solution for hosting your online meetings. Google Chat will let you know if the person you’d like to hold a video conference with is online, allowing you to send them a quick message before hopping on a call. This feature can help you run a successful virtual meeting.
As our 8×8 review indicates, this business phone system/video conferencing service is an effective solution for small businesses, especially organizations looking for a unified communications solution. The software has a low starting price, making it helpful for those only beginning to host online meetings or smaller companies with a limited number of employees. 8×8’s features include calendar integrations with Google Workspace, Microsoft Outlook and Office 365, as well as unlimited calling, text messaging, instant messaging, cloud recording, team messaging, and mobile and desktop apps.
Loom is a great option for hybrid workspaces when live video meetings aren’t possible. It’s a free screen- and voice-recording software your team can use to provide and receive step-by-step instructions and guidance for a variety of in-house tasks. It’s perfect for visual learners, as the person recording can explain and demonstrate changes on projects. You can use Loom as an alternative to written instructions or commentary and save the recordings to your company’s shared storage drive for employees to reference.
Loom is also perfect for employees who can’t attend a live meeting for a demonstration or idea-mapping session.
Microsoft Teams offers full teleconferencing capabilities along with a simple messaging platform that gives you the opportunity to speak with multiple people at once through the application. Microsoft Teams integrates seamlessly with other Microsoft Office products, so if you already use Word, Excel and Outlook in your business, this is the natural choice for a communication tool. Take advantage of the desktop-sharing feature to collaborate with team members in real time or go through a complex project together. Additionally, you can host calls with up to 250 participants, making virtual work events accessible to most employees at midsize companies.
RingCentral is a top-notch platform with video, calling and messaging capabilities. While RingCentral is primarily a business phone system, its video conferencing tool is a central component of the software. The vendor’s Standard plan allows users to host video meetings with up to 100 attendees, while the Premium Plan boosts that number to 200. Regardless of your business’s budget, RingCentral boasts four different plans to choose from, three of which come with video conferencing abilities. Features include closed captioning options, virtual backgrounds and integration with third-party cameras.
GoTo Webinar is a hybrid application that combines the features of Webex with the ability to run webinars within an online meeting or virtual event setup. Whether you work with large brands and global clients or run educational seminars, this software allows hosts to lead unlimited global Webex calls, webinars and team meetings. It also has the ability to record and redistribute the content so team members can view it at their leisure across time zones.
If your clients are all over the country or even the world, it’s not practical to be in the same room for every meeting. Enter Dialpad Meetings, a simple way to gather your co-workers and clients in the same virtual office without complicated downloads. Users can call into the video conference by dialing a phone number or just clicking a link straight from their browser or the app. Dialpad Meetings prides itself on the personalized experience it gives its users with unique meeting room URLs, backgrounds, video layout and even on-hold music before starting a video call. Find out more about this vendor in our Dialpad business phone system review.
As one of the most reliable ways to host online meetings, Zoom skyrocketed to the top of many schools’ and companies’ required technology lists during the COVID-19 pandemic. Zoom is a great option for businesses looking for a secure way to host cloud-based video conferences with an emphasis on ease of use and an extensive selection of features. Zoom can host up to 1,000 attendees at a time, making it the ideal choice for companies holding virtual events, product webinars and online meetings requiring multiple users.
Zoom is one of the most popular video teleconferencing platforms on the market, with affordable plans for every business and extensive features.
Online meetings have multiple uses, such as sharing information with new clients without having to get together in person or catching up with co-workers. Here are a few advantages of hosting video conferences with employees and business partners.
You can conduct virtual team-building activities using video conference calls, like online book clubs, fitness challenges, and even games like charades.
Want to learn more about online meeting platforms and the ones that will best suit your business? Check out our full evaluation of the best video conferencing services.