People will remember 2020 for many reasons.
We have had lockdowns, Donald Trump meltdowns, and working from home in our dressing gowns.
The thing we are going to remember most?
2020 as the year millions of people discovered video calling and conferencing tools and acted like accessible and affordable platforms had not been around for nearly 20 years!
If you and your business only jumped aboard the video conferencing bandwagon this year, you might have jumped straight into using a specific tool without thoroughly considering your needs.
Yet, once you have tried one video conferencing tool, you have not tried them all! With different functions and features, there are many tools, including free video conferencing software, which will tailor your video calling experience to precisely what you need.
Here are six of the best video conferencing software tools.
Everyone knows Slack as the app you use to send someone a message when you are in the office, even though you could walk 20 metres and – scary thought – actually speak to them.
What many do not realise is that it is a fantastic video conferencing tool, too.
What makes Slack so great as a video calling tool? Everything that makes it great as a collaboration app in general. It is easy to use, and you can set up your conference calls in seconds, and hold them in the specific channels you have set up in your account.
Whether you use Slack purely for internal communication or for client calls, onboarding, and customer service, it is a winner!
- Easy to set up and start video and conference calls.
- Integrates with a variety of apps, including Contractbook, for easy collaboration or presenting via calls.
- Video calling currently only available on desktop devices.
- Limited to a maximum of 15 participants, not ideal if you need a cross-company Town Hall meeting!
Zoom could not have wished or paid for better publicity than they have enjoyed throughout 2020. As far as video conferencing software goes, Zoom has become more of a default option than a cup of coffee on the journey into the office.
While it has all the features you would expect from a video conferencing tool, including HD video and audio, Zoom’s scalability is arguably its best selling point. Many businesses will be able to make do with Zoom’s “free forever” plan, which allows you to have 40-minute conferences with up to 100 people! If your business grows and you need more, Zoom offers a range of tiered plans so your subscription can grow with your business, while you can take advantage of features like integrations, including with Contractbook, on any tier.
- Up to 100 users for 40 minutes on free calls!
- Supports up to 1,000 users on paid plans.
- Security features could be better, although these have already dramatically improved given the attention Zoom has got this year.
- Expensive add-ons and plans if you need to work at enterprise level.
3. Google Meet
Google Meet is simply brilliant.
You get Google Meet if you use Google Workspace and thus can connect to collaborative features like Google Docs and Google Calendar. However, if you need to quickly get together without sending around invites and playing the tedious "when can we get all 20 colleagues' calendars to align" game, it is a lifesaver. In a couple of clicks, you can start a meeting, share the meeting code in Slack or another messenger app, and away you go.
Google created Meet to expand on the features of Google Hangouts and make it easy to speak to clients on video on the move, but it is an exceptional tool for internal communication, too.
- Integration with Google Workspace and a wealth of other apps.
- Intuitive and easy to use, even if you have technophobes in your team!
- Compatibility issues if you do not want to use Chrome, Firefox, or Edge browsers.
- Unable to record meetings.
4. Microsoft Teams
If your business uses Microsoft 365 and subscribe to a paid plan with another video conferencing software provider, end your subscription and cut down on your expenses. Use the money to buy everyone a coffee or celebrate “Beer Fridays” when your team is all back in the office.
Microsoft Teams is one of the most powerful video conferencing tools around. It is loaded with features making it easy to screen share, present, record calls, and provide live captions. It is also easy to use on the move with no noticeable reduction in call quality. At the same time, you can host clients or external team members like freelancers as guests without them needing to download the app.
- Host up to 10,000 participants, great for webinars or training exercises!
- Ability to join video calls on the move.
- Not worth the additional cost if you do not already use Microsoft 365.
- Not the most accessible or most intuitive tool available.
ClickMeeting is probably the most feature-rich video conferencing tool around. What we love about ClickMeeting is the way it doubles as an internal communications tool and a marketing platform. With features like live Q&A polls and marketing features, you can use ClickMeeting for anything from gathering employee feedback on a presentation to discovering what customers thought of your latest webinar.
If 2020 has seen video calling become a crucial part of your lead nurturing, business development, and sales processes, ClickMeeting is a brilliant tool to add to your stack.
- Integrations with a wealth of apps.
- Features such as Q&A polls for audience participation.
- Formatting for uploaded presentations can be corrupted.
- Not easy to edit recordings if you’re looking to repurpose things like presentations.
There is an old American saying about things being an “oldie but a goodie,” a phrase that 100% rings true for GoToMeeting. Some people dismiss GoToMeeting as boomer tech, but that discounts how much investment has gone into improving this tool since 2004.
While GoToMeeting no longer has a free forever tier, only “meeting organisers” pay the subscription cost. If you have a couple of people who facilitate all your virtual meetings, your GoToMeeting subscription will not cost you much at all. Like Zoom, it is easy to scale with GoToMeeting, with Enterprise plans allowing you to host up to 3,000 participants if you need to.
- Intuitive interface and easy to collaborate through the call platform.
- Top-level security features to maintain privacy and the integrity of your meeting.
- VoIP upgrade is expensive.
- Audio delays if joining from a smartphone rather than the desktop app or browser.
Choosing video conferencing software for your business
Even if health authorities manage to successfully roll-out COVID-19 vaccines throughout 2021 and we can all go back to the office, virtual working and meetings are here to stay. How many of the tools on our video conferencing software list have you tried? Do you know what works for you, your business, and your clients?
If you are going to spend more hours of your week than you would ideally like on video calls, you might as well do so with a tool you love using that has all the features you need!