Video conferencing is becoming a necessity for many businesses these days. Video conferencing enables employees, clients and associates, who are situated in different locations, to meet virtually and collaborate and share their ideas. Productivity, engagement, and problem-sharing are increased with video conferencing. It simply makes good business sense to make use of video conferencing!
Applications in this area have taken off over the last few years. New business owners may feel overwhelmed when it comes to deciding on which tool to use. When selecting an application, some of the features to look for include being able to send a URL meeting invitation, screen sharing, file sharing, the ability to record meetings, a chat option as well as overall ease of use. Picture and sound quality are also important considerations!
We have highlighted 5 video conferencing applications below that are suitable for small business owners. These have free plans so you can test them out to see if they suit your needs!
Skype for Business
Skype has been around for a long time and given that many people already have it installed on their PC, is an easy option to select. Skype Meetings, is free and allows you to communicate with up to 10 people at once. It has a collaborative whiteboard, screen sharing and the ability to mute/unmute participants. Skype Meetings is only available in the USA. Skype for Business, is available globally and accommodates up to 250 people. This option costs $2 per month. One of the drawbacks about Skype is that a participant needs to have a Skype profile and must join your account before you can add them to your conference call.
Zoom is a popular, top quality video conferencing option. You will first need to download the program onto your PC before you can set up your meeting. You can then send the URL link to your invitees. Note that your invitees do not need a Zoom profile, however, they will need to download the app to enter the video call. When clicking on the URL link they will be prompted to download the app to join the meeting. With the Free plan, you get unlimited meetings and can invite up to 100 participants with a time limit of 40 minutes per call. The Free plan is packed with features such as an HD video screen and voice recording, meeting ID, plugins for Chrome and Outlook, screen sharing, group chat, recording, online support, whiteboarding, and SSL security encryption.
The Pro version of Zoom costs $14.99 per month. Meeting times are unlimited, there is increased user management, admin feature controls, usage reporting and you receive 1G of cloud storage. Zoom easily integrates with many other 3rd party applications and offers users a seamless user experience.
Google Hangouts runs via Chrome and is another popular video conferencing option due to its integration with Google products. For instance, when you set up a calendar invite in Google an automatic video call link is created and sent to participants in the meeting. Google Hangouts, offers HD conferencing for up to 15 participants. It includes instant chat messaging, screen sharing and custom controls for admin users. Hangouts also has a feature where you can stream video calls live on YouTube. Google Hangouts Meet, has added functionality such as mute, control cam and connect anywhere. Google Hangouts Meet, can accommodate up to 25 participants with unlimited calls. You must be a paid-up member on G Suite to access Google Hangouts Meet.
Join.Me is a convenient, dependable and easy to use video conferencing tool, which integrates with many 3rd party applications. It is for free for up to 3 video callers. The Free version includes 10 whiteboards (which makes Join.me ideal for collaboration) file transfer, mute and chat boxes. The Pro version allows for up to 50 meeting participants with 10 video feeds. One of the key selling points on the Pro version is that you get 5G of cloud storage. Other features on Pro include a meeting scheduler with Outlook and Google and the ability to record video calls. The Pro version costs $20 per month but you can try it for 14 days for free.
Appear.In offers a basic streamlined video conferencing experience for users. Meeting participants can enter a meeting directly via their browser and start chatting. No login is required. Appear.in is supported by Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. The Free version allows for 4 participants on a meeting with screen sharing and a chat pane. The Pro version costs $9.99 per month and allows for 10 participants on a call. Users have access to recording features, custom branding and advanced screen sharing in the Pro version.
There are many other contenders which provide video conferencing solutions, such as Ring Central, Amazon Chime, BlueJeans and GoToMeeting. The 5 video conferencing applications highlighted above are ideal for small business owners as they offer free options yet still provide all the features you would expect in a video conferencing application. And as your business grows you have the ability to scale upwards onto the next tiered plan or you can simply stay put on the Free plan and save your well-earned cash!