Sometimes referred to as virtual conferencing, Virtual Meetings are the hosting of a meeting in a virtual environment and not face-to-face. Virtual meetings use technology to allow groups to collaborate through an Internet connection. These virtual meeting platforms generally have an audio and video component and are not simply a voice connection. Virtual meetings are easy to conduct. All that is needed for participants at the basic level is: an Internet connection, Audio (through computer speakers and microphone, or telephone), Webcam .
When it comes to virtual meeting event tech, there are several categories and types of tools you can use. Noteworthy and popular virtual communication apps include:
Yes, you can use this video communication app for business too. Apple just announced that it’s launching group chats for up to 32 people with iOS12. The new FaceTime will have tiles of participants faces and highlight those who are talking. Users can also manually select who they want to highlight/see in tiles.
Pro: This new feature should keep everyone on their toes.
Con: It’s for iOS only.
This basic video communication app, allows groups or individuals to conference in with one another without long-distance fees.
Pro: Most people are familiar with this online meeting app and may already be on it through their personal lives.
Con: Sound and visuals can be off from one another. Freezing and dropped calls occur.
Google Hangouts has come a long way since its introduction in 2013. In 2017, Google launched an enterprise-friendly version focused on business solutions and video conferencing under the name Hangouts Meet. The communication platform offers video chat and conferencing for up to 50 participants, and SMS. The app works on Android and iOS Meet will also soon be compatible with Polycom, Skype, Cisco and several other third-party products.
Pro: Meet is fully integrated with G Suite so you can join a meeting directly from a calendar entry or email.
Con: Users must have a G Suite account to invite others. The platform also lacks some of the enterprise functionality of other more complicated meeting software.
VIRTUAL MEETINGS TECHNOLOGY
There are a number of tools that will help you make the most of your virtual meeting. Our top choices for communication, notetaking and collaboration tools include:
Clarke joins your virtual meeting as another participant and uses artificial intelligence to listen, record and analyze your discussion. Clarke then outlines the call summary and the next steps, which means those taking part can spend more time contributing to the conversation and less time taking meeting notes.
Pro: Spend more time sharing ideas and less time on administration.
Con: This is a paid tool. There is a 7-day free trial. It costs $15 per month for up to 5 hours of calls and $10 for each additional 5 hours.
Google Drive offers docs, spreadsheet, presentation, and drawing capabilities. Files can be uploaded or downloaded and shared by permission or to anyone with a link, for free.
Pro: Easy to use, real-time collaboration.
Con: Offline editing is difficult.
Slack is a communication platform to tie your team together. It offers messaging app functionality, customizable notifications, and integrates with many office tools.
Pro: One of the most robust employee messaging tools available and a great way to cut down the volume of emails sent between colleagues.
Con: it’s expensive compared to most options out there. Slack charges a per person rate of $8 or $15 a month, although it credits you for employees who are not active during that month.
This Microsoft product helps teams collaborate easily. It’s designed to help employees interact quickly and build upon each other’s work. You can also join and create groups. Some call it a business social network.
Pro: You can invite different types of collaborators like employees and external people such as clients.
Con: Limited customization.
PROJECT MANAGEMENT TOOLS
In any virtual meeting, there are bound to be takeaways. Project management software can help you keep track of them and additional assignments.
This project collaboration tool allows things like file uploads, task tracking and can move your team away from extensive emails back and forth.
Pro: Integrates well with other apps.
Con: Instant messaging is compartmentalized.
Trello can keep your team’s assignments in check, knowing who’s working on what and what’s still in development.
Pro: Uses visual “cards” which are easy to track and navigate.
Con: No time tracking.
This project management software keeps all components of a project in a central location for easy access and answers.
Pro: Free version for up to 15 people.
Con: No desktop app, works in your browser.
BRAINSTORMING AND STICKY NOTE TOOLS
Capturing ideas is important in brainstorming and strategy meetings. Sticky note tools can also be used as prompts to return to ideas mentioned that do not directly fit the present agenda. Capture the concept and then go on. Top picks of tools in this area include:
This mind-mapping software is focused on capturing ideas and aids in silent brainstorming.
Pro: Even if you don’t have an account, you can be invited to view the boards for free.
Con: No analytics.
Is designed to help visual collaboration among teams through sticky notes. You can create boards with drag and drop pinning.
Pro: Wallpapers allow you to customize a board to feel more like “yours.”
Con: No custom workflows at this time.
This mind-mapping and knowledge management software specializes in sharing institutional knowledge. Content is searchable in order to increase employee productivity.
Pro: Categorization and search make it easy to find the content you’re looking for,
ADDITIONAL TOOLS TO SUPPORT VIRTUAL MEETINGS
In addition to virtual meeting software and apps, it’s important to have the following non-tech virtual meeting tools as well as meeting peripherals such as:
- keyboard_arrow_rightA copy of the agenda
- keyboard_arrow_rightA timer so you know if you’re on track
- keyboard_arrow_rightConversation topics to get the conversation flowing
- keyboard_arrow_rightA good webcam and mic (or a headset/earphones if preferred)
VIRTUAL MEETINGS APPS
Zoom video communications software offers a lot of options that fit every budget. From a free plan through its enterprise option, which starts at $19.99 per month per host, Zoom can handle up to 200 participants with unlimited cloud storage (in its large enterprise plans).
Pro: Even the free option allows for up to 100 participants.
Con: Participants will need to download before they can join. There is a 40 minute limit for group meetings on the free version.
This free screen sharing and online meeting software, allows you to claim a personalized URL, customize your meeting background, and keep administrative control over your account. If you need more options and a larger number of participants, the software offers pricing plans starting at $10 per month per user.
Pro: The whiteboard feature provides an engaging interface.
Con: There are no alerts when someone joins your meeting.
This online meeting software is the longstanding option selected by many businesses as it’s been offering video conferencing services for a long time. It offers a free 14-day trial and after that plans begin at $19 a month, billed annually.
Pro: While their pricing is higher than a lot of options out there, all plans offer unlimited meetings and are based on the number of participants. So if you have a lot of meetings but only a few participants each time, the cost may be worth it.
Con: the download can be problematic. There are no options to participate from the cloud.
Other virtual meeting software to check out:
This free conference calling and collaboration tool has screen sharing and drawing tools, as well as public and private chat.
You can use ClickMeeting as virtual meeting software but a lot of its features seem more webinar-related. It does a lot more than simply allow your team to see each other.
Robust featured virtual meeting tool that allows for participant learning sessions, webinar features, and virtual room options.
Cisco WebEx Meetings
WebEx meetings allow for screen sharing, the ease of using a mobile app and they can accommodate up to 40,000 people.
Amazon Chime works with Alexa for business and provides video conferencing, online meetings, calls, and chats.
This video communication service offers screen sharing, IM, and whiteboard features.
Onstream is cloud-based so participants needn’t worry about downloads. It offers screen sharing, whiteboard features, and customizable user interfaces.
Videxio is also cloud-based so it works on any platform. There’s a free, teams, and enterprise option for this video conferencing software.