Online video conferencing is not just the future, it’s the present for many businesses, educational and governmental institutions, and even friends and families.
As a highly international institution, IE University understands the importance of bringing every member of our community together—no matter where in the world they may be.
Video-conferencing tools have come a long way in a relatively short time. High-definition video, high-quality audio and useful add-on tools have made online meetings an essential element of modern business and teaching. They enable people all over the world to come together at the same time without travel, increasing productivity in the process.
They mean meetings or classes can be held “live” or recorded for anybody who couldn’t attend to see later. Some tools can keep a record of what was said, and who attended. In difficult times such as the COVID-19 lockdown, conferencing tools can keep people connected, becoming as much a part of mindfulness and support as of business and education. Here we look at some of the best online meeting tools, and their features.
The best-known of its kind because it was one of the first. Free for the basic version, Skype offers HD video and audio, instant messaging and “phone” calls for non-platform users. It works on desktop and mobile devices and currently has more users connected to it than any other platform. Excellent for keeping in touch with friends and family, or for one-to-one meetings in particular, its screen-sharing function allows one user to show the others what’s on their screen—perfect for presentations or teaching.
A relatively new kid on the block, and fast becoming Skype’s main competitor. Screen sharing is available with Zoom, too, but it has some features which Skype doesn’t. “Break-out” sessions are possible, separating some participants for a side discussion if they’re not part of the main conversation. The meeting controller can control who speaks, and any participant can raise their digital “hand” if they want to contribute. Like Skype, it’s basic version is free.
Google’s video-conferencing tool is integrated with their G-Suite software, so meetings can be set up from a Calendar event or an email invitation, for example. With some additional software, it can also integrate with Skype. A useful feature is that each meeting has its own dial-in phone number assigned, so they can be joined easily.
As the name suggests, this one is also free (for up to 1,000 participants) though upgrades can be bought. Often rated by users as the easiest to use of all the platforms, and with 800,000 businesses registered, FreeConferenceCall.com’s appeal is obvious, though it doesn’t have the highest ratings for the quality of its calls.
This is another tool with a free option, with unlimited meetings for up to 10 participants, for up to 45 minutes. Popular in the advertising and marketing sector, UberConference is also rated as very easy to use by reviewers, with the only real issues being in lag and connectivity.
One of the most popular with larger businesses because of its excellent security, Webex has some very useful extra tools like polling, whiteboard, and background noise detection. Meetings can be encrypted, and any meeting can be recorded as an MP4 to be shared later by email. The paid-for add-ons can be more expensive than its competitors, though.
Despite not being as strong on video conferencing as the other tools, Samepage is very popular because it can integrate so many other jobs into one platform. With a calendar, group or individual chats, file sharing and editing, Word-style document creation and task management, you can do a lot in one place. The meetings can’t be recorded, which is perhaps why it’s not as popular for online conferencing.
There are many other options for online video meetings, both paid and free. The right choice will depend on how many people are at each meeting, and what you want to achieve. Somebody wanting to practice mindfulness sessions with their friends will not need the same product as a multinational company looking to increase productivity worldwide.
There are of course some disadvantages. While online video conferences can bring people together from all over the globe in one “place,” there can be issues with audio or video quality. Lag can mean some people are behind others, which is very frustrating if you’re trying to contribute.
Broadband internet is a must. Not everyone, everywhere, has the right infrastructure yet. And if the internet goes down for whatever reason, the meeting’s off!
But in general, online video conferencing is not only here to stay but its use is growing. Especially when travel is difficult or expensive, participants are a long way apart or you want to actually see the people you’re trying to stay in touch with, they’re not only the best choice but sometimes the only one.
Thanks to our commitment to staying on the cutting edge of technological innovation, IE University has been able to seamlessly continue classes across all of our programs during the COVID-19 lockdown. From online video meetings and beyond, at IE University, you’ll gain all the tools you need to take your future to the next level, no matter what the world throws your way.