Unpredictable economic situations have ushered in a “new normal,” which drastically changed how we do things. From schools and universities to businesses and organizations, individuals and institutions now rely on video conferencing software to stay connected and continue operations.
A few weeks after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 a pandemic, an estimated 16 million knowledge workers in the United States have switched to a remote work setup. This number has climbed exponentially since more states and countries have urged citizens to stay home.
As economies start to open up across the globe, many organizations have considered transitioning to this new workplace reality for good. More businesses are replacing rigid 9-5 schedules and traditional office environments with remote work set-ups, including education and training, digital marketing, business administration, management and information technology.
As we adapt to the new wave, finding the best video conferencing software is essential to stay connected. Facilitate better communication within your network with online meeting software that matches your needs. In this article, we’ve discussed the:
• Advantages of investing in webconference service
• Top considerations in choosing the best video conferencing software
• The best web meeting software in 2020
• Potential challenges in video conferencing and ways to address them
Read on and discover the best virtual meeting software for your purpose.
The Role of Video Conferencing in Today’s Changing Economy
Collaboration can be problematic with inefficient communication processes. This challenge can ladder up to bigger issues that affect your daily routine, focus and productivity. Using the right virtual meeting software, you can support flexible work and learning styles without delay or hassle.
Web conferencing software allows businesses to grow and globalize by facilitating effective communication with partners, employees, investors and customers. At the same time, free video conferencing software enables universities and institutions — especially those dealing with staffing shortages, budget limitations and new regulations — to broaden the scope of their subjects and provide students with engaging learning experiences.
Video conferencing presents countless opportunities to stay connected with everyone amidst economic uncertainties. Whether you’re using webconference software for engaging remote employees, holding online classes, collaborating across departments or catching up with your family and friends, this technology serves your purpose.
Choosing the Best Video Conferencing Software in 2020
Web conferencing has emerged as the primary communication platform of the virtual workforce. Today, people are powering up video conferences to replace the social gatherings that are not happening in person because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Do you have the right tools and resources necessary for remote work and learning? Let’s take a look at the different considerations when choosing the best web conference software:
|COST||Most webconference service providers charge based on a per-host basis or depending on the number of participants. On average, paid web meeting software costs between $12 to $55 for each user per month.|
Free video conferencing software is also available but typically restricts features, such as the number of participants and maximum call length. Take advantage of free trials to ensure the online meeting software you choose meets your needs.
|SECURITY||Digital platforms are at risk of cybersecurity issues, such as stolen meeting links, meeting bombing, data breaches and malware attacks. Invest in cloud-based video conference software to prevent any potential vulnerabilities.|
|NUMBER OF PARTICIPANTS||Some webconference services allow you to connect with at least 100 participants for free, while others require premium upgrades when connecting large numbers of users. Be sure to determine the number of participants joining your scheduled calls to save money and resources.|
|EASE OF USE||Don’t let the confusing user interface of some video conferencing software hold you back from transitioning to a remote setup. Look for online meeting software that is user-friendly and has a simple user interface (UI) to make it easier for all your employees or students to adapt to your virtual setting.|
|MOBILE EXPERIENCE||Approximately 61.5 percent of the world population utilizes mobile phones for communication, including video conferencing. Before upgrading your plans or committing to webconference software, try it out on all smart devices that your participants use. In doing so, you can ensure everyone in your group has a positive web conference experience.|
|ROOM SYSTEMS||Depending on your needs, you can organize a conference room specifically for video conferencing. Select online meeting platforms that bring HD video and audio into your meeting room and allow seamless content sharing with a tap of a button.|
|SMART MEETINGS||If your goal is to increase productivity, look for web meeting software with integrated artificial intelligence (AI). For instance, some virtual meeting software automatically takes notes and summarizes the minutes of the meeting and assigns action items to participants. These features are designed to keep attendees focused on the discussion instead of scrambling to take notes.|
|APP INTERGRATIONS||Many online meeting platforms allow integrations with multiple applications, such as Google Calendar, Outlook and Microsoft PowerPoint. Consider which apps you typically use during virtual meetings when selecting webconference software to streamline your online discussions.|
|UPTIME||A reliable video conferencing software seldom encounters technical issues, provides HD video and audio conferencing and guarantees uptime reliability.|
|RECORDING||Video recording capabilities are useful for organizations that wish to review the minutes of the meeting or share the presentation with other viewers. Online archives are also helpful when hiring new employees or hosting introductory classes.|
|SCREEN SHARING||This feature offers the best way to illustrate your point to other participants in the call. Screen sharing is useful if you want to show how a specific process is done, share a document that only you have access to and ensure your message is delivered clearly.|
|VIDEO FEEDS||Best-in-class web conference software allows the host to broadcast online meetings or seminars to large groups of passive viewers.|
|CUSTOMER SUPPORT||The last thing you want is to select a webconference service provider that doesn’t respond to your urgent concerns. Be sure to call the customer support beforehand to assess whether the features and package inclusions fit your needs and budget.|
APSGUIDE Picks: 10 Best Video Conferencing Software for Your Purpose
The global video conferencing market has matured over time. Today, numerous online meeting platforms come with quality audio-visual (A/V) communication at an affordable price, making them a viable option for individuals and small and large organizations.
Promote ease of collaboration with the right web conferencing software. APS Guide reviewed the top paid and free video conferencing software to help you find the best platform for your objectives. Each virtual meeting software was evaluated and scored based on four key metrics: ease of use, features, affordability and security. We then assigned a corresponding score to each metric between 1-5, 5 being the highest. The sum of the corresponding scores was divided by the total number of metrics, which gave the average rating.
Discover the top 10 online meeting platforms in 2020 and find the right tool that meets your demands:
APS Pick: The Best Online Meeting Platform for a Seamless Move to a Digital Workplace or Virtual Classroom
PROS: Microsoft Teams is a cloud-based communication software aimed at increasing remote work or learning focus. Beyond an intuitive interface and seamless app integration, this video conferencing software serves as a multi-functional dashboard for collaboration. It allows you to post updates, hold meetings and share files all in one place. You can even invite other participants who do not have a Microsoft Teams account.
CONS: One of the biggest disadvantages of Microsoft Teams is the unnecessary consumption of storage. Since anyone in your group can create a team, this can fill up your storage space quickly. In addition, this webconference software can cater to only 250 participants, with nine video-enabled speakers.
APS Pick: The Best Video Conferencing Software for Collaboration
PROS: Zoom has set the bar high for remote collaboration. It is easy to use, supports long video calls and has simple UI and impressive sound and feed. With this web conference software, participants can enjoy exceptional experiences across all systems. It enables desktop and mobile collaboration and supports up to 1,000 interactive video participants and 10,000 view-only partakers. This video conferencing software also boasts security that offers end-to-end, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliant encryption.
CONS: Zoom has a 40-minute limit for meetings with three or more participants. As such, you have to be conscious of your run times if you’re hosting a group conference.
3. GoTo Meeting
APS Pick: The Best Web Conference Software for Businesses
PROS: GoToMeeting is an effective platform for various business needs. It permits large meetings of up to 3,000 participants, has a user-friendly interface and allows third-party app integrations. This web conference software also boasts a fast download, speedy meeting setup and industry-standard security measures.
CONS: The maximum number of participants varies depending on your subscription plan. So if you have a large organization, you might be required to invest more. In addition, GoToMeeting allows limited active video feeds. The starter plan is limited to 11 active video-enabled speakers and the other plans allow 25 active video feeds at one time.
4. Zoho Meeting
APS Pick: The Best Web Conference Software for Webinars
PROS: Zoho Meeting provides instant results for your live polls and Q&A. Using this online meeting platform, you can easily send invites to attendees, record your webinar and share it on various online channels, interact with participants and download analytics results.
CONS: The downside of using Zoho Meeting as a webinar platform is it does not have translation options for other languages. This may hinder you from conveying your message to other participants who do not speak your language.
APS Pick: The Best Webconference Software for Improved Internal and External Communications
PROS: Cisco WebEx Meetings facilitates convenient virtual meetings anytime, anywhere, using a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model. It allows you to keep projects on schedule, share presentations and promote real-time collaborations.
CONS: Although it offers a free 30-day trial, maintaining Cisco WebEx Meetings subscription can be pricey for some organizations. Additionally, this virtual meeting software can cater to only 200 participants.
APS Pick: The Best Online Meeting Software for Large Corporations
PROS: Lifesize allows flexible and convenient video conferencing via mobile or desktop. It enables you to hold meetings within your network or outside your directory by placing the participants’ IP address, video address, Lifesize extension or IP address and extension. This online meeting platform has simple UI, good sound quality and HD video.
CONS: Lifesize subscription can be costly. It is best suited for large-scale, multi-location companies who can afford to invest in paid video conferencing software.
APS Pick: The Best Virtual Meeting Software for Interviews and Consultations
PROS: With one click, anyone can join the meeting using any device. Skype allows real-time collaboration with up to 50 participants, with added features such as head tracking and automatic cropping.
CONS: Skype is not as flexible as other online meeting platforms. To use the app, you need to create your account and download the program. You also have to update your contact list manually to utilize the conferencing features.
APS Pick: The Best Virtual Meeting Software for Apple Users
PROS: FaceTime boasts superior video messaging quality, with 720p video calls possible on supported devices. All you need to do is select the person from your contact list and make a call. You also have the option to change your filters and rejoin group calls.
CONS: FaceTime requires a Wi-Fi or cellular data connection to work. And as mentioned, this application works only for Apple users and limits video call participants to 32 people.
APS Pick: The Best Online Meeting Software for Product Demonstrations
PROS: Google Hangouts is an excellent communication platform for business owners and customers. It boasts multilingual chats, which support 28 different languages for communication between non-English speakers. This online meeting platform is also easy to set up and use, comes with an intuitive interface and supports almost any platform.
CONS: You need to have a Google account to access this feature. Another downside of using Google Hangouts is it requires a stable and high bandwidth to facilitate smooth communication. Furthermore, it does not use end-to-end encryption. To keep meetings secure, the meeting creator has the option to mute or remove other participants.
APS Pick: The Best Free Web Conferencing Software for Virtual Hangouts
PROS: Facebook Messenger Rooms is the latest virtual hangout where you can easily create a “room” and catch up with your family and friends. It facilitates group video calls with up to 50 people and allows link sharing and video scheduling. Facebook makes it more fun by enabling augmented reality features and virtual backgrounds during calls. Plus, it has no time limits and is entirely free!
CONS: Facebook Messenger Rooms may not be the best option if you’re planning to host professional meetings for your organization. This video conference software does not allow you to save and record meetings and has no end-to-end encryption. The video quality is also not as good as other video conferencing platforms.
Potential Video Conferencing Challenges and How to Address Them
Securing the best online meeting platforms does not automatically eliminate virtual communication barriers. As the demand for online meeting platforms increases, more people grapple with unavoidable challenges. These include:
• Time zone difference
• Connection issues
• Understanding non-verbal cues
• Compatibility issues
• Technical difficulties
• System glitches
• Low-quality video/audio
• Security concerns
• Among others
Thankfully, there are some basic system guidelines that you can follow to maintain high-quality audio and video during web conferences. Follow these tips for a seamless video conferencing experience:
Choose a web conferencing software that has strict security protocols
✔ Ensure your team members have access to a stable internet connection and the right equipment
✔ Launch demo sessions before rolling out new web conferencing solutions to your team
✔ Hold meetings in a noise-free environment with good lighting
✔ Set specific meeting schedules
✔ Build rapport with your virtual team
Leverage the Power of Video Conferencing Tools
In today’s volatile environment, you must take a proactive approach to stay in touch with the people around you. Maintain effective communication with your team, customers, students, friends or loved ones using video conferencing software that matches your goals, needs and budget.