Picking a video conferencing tool requires no small amount of trial and error. You might be better off choosing more than one for different tasks.
No matter what your industry is, most workers will have used at least one video conferencing tool. In fact, if the working world hadn’t been able to rely on video calls during the pandemic lockdowns, entire industries could have fallen on their knees.
The pandemic showed us just how valuable video conferencing technology is. And now that many people have permanently eschewed the office in favour of fully remote working or hybrid working, regular video calls are still important. It’s easier to see how a colleague is doing over a face-to-face chat and most video conferencing tech facilitates that most of the time.
If you have had to rely on video conferencing tools regularly, you’ll know why we have included the caveat ‘most’. You will also know that not all video conferencing tools are created equally so you should think carefully about which one you want to use. Perhaps a combination of tools might suit best, ie, one tool for internal calls and another for external calls.
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of some of the most popular video conferencing tools on the market right now.
A good option for large companies, Microsoft Teams allows thousands of people to hop on a meeting at one go. It’s an ideal tool for big company webinars and internal and external calls. It has a good chat section, and links and messages are saved in chats for future reference, which is a useful feature that not all its competitors have.
The downside? Teams itself can be glitchy, meaning you might have a few headaches trying to turn your camera on or battling with a frozen screen. You also cannot invite guests or external users to chats so if you’re using Microsoft Teams for regular external calls you might want to reconsider.
Google Meet is free for up to 100 participants and offers an unlimited amount of meetings. The con is that if you want to record or store meetings you will have to pay for the tech, but then again, lots of tools require companies to pay. If you have a small budget and a small team, the free option is definitely worth considering if you are okay with not recording or storing meetings.
Another good thing about Google Meet is it comes with a speech-to-text tool that captions speakers as they talk – meaning it is a great option for people who are hard of hearing.
If you have big plans and a tiny budget, Skype could be a good option because it is completely free. Of course, the fact that it is free comes with a health warning – and that is that Skype can sometimes be a little bit unreliable. Think poor audio quality, glitches and not as good security as some of the other more expensive tools on this list.
Zoom was one of the biggest winners of the pandemic. It became a household name within weeks when it became the chosen tech tool for companies all over the world to connect with clients and colleagues. Zoom is popular because you can get a lot of its functionality on the free plan. You can record and save meetings, share your screen and make use of its filters, reactions, polls and chat features. On Microsoft Teams, you have to pay for these functions.
It doesn’t allow a huge number of meeting participants, though. On the free plan, you can gather up to 100 participants for a meeting of up to 40 minutes. Anything over and you will have to pay. Another con with Zoom is it doesn’t have Microsoft Teams’ level of follow-up abilities. File sharing, saved chats and adding meeting agendas to invites aren’t possible.
Cisco’s Webex includes 10 GB of cloud storage on all of its paid plans and up to 200 participants. The free plan limits meetings to 50 minutes, but the paid plans offer up to 24 hours per meeting – so you could have that marathon brainstorming session if you really wanted to.
Like Zoom, Webex has chats and polls and lots of integrations with the likes of Google Calendar and Microsoft Office Suite 365.
A major pro for Webex is its reputation for security; it offers locked personal room meetings, password-enforced meeting connections and encrypted cloud recordings. It also enables the meeting host to control who can enter a meeting and when. Meeting hosts and admins can grant or revoke access to meetings if they choose.
Let’s start with the cons because the pros are pretty decent to be fair. Like Zoom, Verizon’s BlueJeans doesn’t offer file sharing and there are limits placed on the amount of recording you can do if you purchase a cheaper plan.
However, BlueJeans does have screen sharing, polls and chat functions. It also lets participants identify points in the meeting for follow-up later and it leverages AI for voice recognition and note-taking.
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