With more and more meetings taking place virtually, video conferencing software is more important than ever. There are tons of tools available to facilitate video calls. And many offer unique features like screen sharing, HD video calls, and file sharing. So it’s important to learn the options and consider which platforms best suit your team.
But before you can find the best video conferencing solution for your business’s needs, you must understand what is offered. Here’s an explanation of the video conferencing industry and some of the top options available.
What is Video Conferencing Software?
Video conferencing software is a tool that facilitates virtual meetings and collaboration. Teams can use them to chat one-on-one, facilitate internal meetings, or even host seminars or outside video calls. Some of these programs are available in a simple web browser. Others require specialized programs or downloads to access premium features.
Compare These Video Conferencing Services
Take a look at this list of video conferencing service providers. Each has a range of features that sets it apart. Our overview provides information on collaboration tools, free version versus paid plans and more.
1. Zoom Meeting
Zoom offers a fully-featured video conferencing solution that has both free and premium versions. You can use Zoom for one-on-one meetings, group calls, webinars, and even as a phone communication system. The free plan offers unlimited one-on-one calling and up to 100 participants. But you can enjoy higher participant limits and premium features like recording, social media streaming, and branding with a premium plan.
Additionally, Zoom makes it easy for video conferencing from home with clients or people outside their organization. The platform amassed more than 200 million daily users in 2020. So it’s likely that the people you want to meet with are already familiar with the platform. And even if they haven’t used it previously, it’s easy to download onto a desktop or access via web or mobile app.
GoToMeeting is a platform for video meetings and web conferencing built specifically for business users. There are various plans available for businesses of various sizes, with pricing starting at $12 per month. The company also provides an array of features to make meetings more productive. These include screen sharing, recording and transcripts, mobile video meetings, and integrations with VoIP systems and professional conferencing equipment.
Additionally, GoToMeeting provides an array of communication solutions outside of its simple video conferencing tools. There are solutions for webinars, employee training, and solutions tailored to specific roles like IT professionals and educators.
3. Zoho Meeting
Zoho Meeting provides web conferencing software perfect for both online video meetings and webinars. The business is known for providing secure video conferencing tools that are protected through encryption. And all of the features of Zoho Meeting are designed with international compliance standards in mind. So this may be one of the best video conferencing options available for those who need to communicate with team members or clients around the world.
The video conferencing solution features options like screen sharing, recording, chat, RSVPs, and monitor controls. And plans start at just $2.50 per month for companies that just need to host small meetings. There’s also a free plan for those that just need limited features. Additionally, Zoho offers a wide array of other SaaS tools for business users. So you can sign up for services like CRM, project management, and bookkeeping. Then you can access all of those items with one account for a more streamlined experience.
4. Google Meet
Google Meet is a free video conferencing solution that’s easy for new and returning users to access. All you need is a G-Suite account to set up a meeting. Then you can send a code to other participants so they can join a call right away. No need to download extra software or navigate a confusing sign-in process. Additionally, since so many people are already familiar with G-Suite tools, it’s likely to be a popular option with those inside and outside your company.
Despite being a free tool, Google Meet does provide some interesting features. For example, participants can knock to enter meetings, raise their hands to speak, change video chat background, and even enter breakout rooms. The tool also offers captioning in various languages and dial-in options from multiple countries.
5. Cisco Webex Meetings
Cisco Webex Meetings provides a free and fast solution for video conferencing. The free plan offers calls of up to 50 minutes with up to 100 participants. However, there are also premium plans available starting at $13.50 per month. With all plans, users receive easy to use features like screen sharing, recording, transcripts, messaging, and file sharing. Cisco Webex Meetings can even integrate with calendars on Google or Microsoft to make it easy for each user to schedule conferences and receive reminders.
One of the features that makes Cisco Webex Meetings stand out is its ability to integrate with a huge array of other platforms. The video conferencing software solution integrates with Google, Microsoft, Salesforce, Box, and so many others. This allows each user to avoid constantly switching between platforms and take advantage of the features they already use with other tools.
6. RingCentral Meetings
RingCentral Meetings offers a communication and video conferencing platform for businesses of all sizes. You can use the tool to send messages, host video conferences, and make phone calls. Some plans even come with an open API for businesses to personalize the experience to their specific needs. Plans that include the video conferencing service start at $24.99 per month. But the company also offers a free plan called Glip by RingCentral, which offers employee messaging and video calling.
In addition to the variety of options available, RingCentral Meetings also provides mobile apps for all the major platforms. And users outside the organization can easily join meetings without an existing account or software download.
7. Skype for Business
Skype for Business is a popular instant messaging and video calling service from Microsoft. It is integrated with Microsoft Office 365. But you can download it as a standalone platform as well. It’s also available as a mobile app on all the major operating systems.
Skype for Business is a simple and easy to use video conferencing service for teams that only need basic functionality. It is available as a free download and can accommodate up to 50 people in a call, with features like screen sharing available. But Microsoft reserves its more advanced features for Microsoft Teams.
8. Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams is also integrated with Microsoft Office 365. But it provides a wider array of communication and collaboration features than Skype. Users can host video meetings, upload and share files, instant message, and integrate the tool with their calendar and other tools. Basically, Microsoft Teams is meant to be a hub for all of your company’s internal communication.
Small businesses can easily set up group or individual threads within Microsoft Teams. Then you can go from chatting to video conferencing with just one click. Microsoft Teams is free for Office 365 users. And there are various plans available depending on the size of your team and type of features needed.
9. Google Hangouts
Google Hangouts is a simple messaging app provided by Google. It was once part of Google+, but has since become a standalone platform. You just need a Google account to sign up. And the platform is free for basic calling. You can chat with up to 100 people or set up a voice or video call with up to 10 people.
Though small teams can certainly use it for meetings, Google Hangouts is designed more with individuals in mind. So many of the features are meant to be fun, like photo sharing, emojis, stickers, and gifs. But there are also useful options like mobile apps and device syncing.
10. Adobe Connect
Adobe Connect is a suite of software products designed for remote workers. The platform provides a versatile solution for meetings, webinars, and even training sessions. Those who want to host client meetings can personalize the experience with custom branding and presentation tools. There are also huddle rooms for team members to gather and share ideas in real time.
Essentially, Adobe Connect provides a completely customizable service based on the size and needs of each user. There are solutions available for those in specific industries. Or you can contact the business directly to design a plan that suits your business’s needs. There’s a free plan available for calls with up to three participants. Higher volumes start at $50 per month.
11. BlueJeans Meetings
BlueJeans Meetings provides a voice and video conferencing tool that’s available online and in various desktop and mobile apps. Offered by Verizon, BlueJeans provides a comprehensive command center that users can leverage to keep track of meetings, gather feedback, and communicate with participants.
Small businesses can use BlueJeans to host internal meetings, communicate with clients and partners, and even host virtual events. Pricing starts at $9.99 per month for unlimited one-on-one calling and up to 50 total participants.
Jabber is a product from Cisco that provides a unified collaboration platform. It offers instant messaging, voice and video calls, desktop sharing, and mobile apps for on-the-go users. You can set up various threads for different projects and departments. Then use those groups to collaborate on documents or easily hop on video calls to brainstorm.
Since both tools are offered by Cisco, you can also easily connect with the video conferencing tools of Webex Meetings. So a business can use Jabber to easily manage internal communication and then quickly hop over to a more fully featured video conference room if needed.
13. U Meeting
U Meeting is an online and mobile tool designed for business communication and distance learning. Participants can join from anywhere. And calls can feature up to 200 participants, with up to 12 featured on the screen at a time. Conference rooms are encrypted for added security. And you can even use the tool to host webinars and lectures.
When a host schedules a meeting, they can protect it with a password and then send the link to participants via Outlook or Google Calendar. Then participants can easily join by clicking a link or entering the meeting ID in their browser or U Meeting app.
ClickMeeting offers a tool for video conferencing, online meetings, and webinars. Users can access the software without a complicated installation process. And there’s even a free version available, which includes basic webinar functionality for 30 days. Paid plans start at $25 per month and include advanced features like breakout rooms, file storage, private chat, and polls and surveys.
ClickMeeting is most popular for webinars and larger client presentations. But the features can also work for smaller team meetings as well. Users can also break up large events into smaller sessions to provide more personalized information to attendees. Additionally, there are specific solutions designed for things like product demos, online courses, and huge online events. So if you have a specific purpose in mind for your video conferencing solution, ClickMeeting could make it easy.
BigBlueButton is an open source web conferencing solution. It’s specifically designed for online learning. But many of the features may also be applicable for businesses. For example, the platform includes real-time audio and video calling, chat, presentation slides, and screen sharing.
Additionally, since BigBlueButton is an open source tool, there’s a large community of developers creating integrations and solutions around it. The online conferencing software allows easy customizations and integrations with the tools you already use thanks to a simple API. As such, it may be one of the best options available for developers or those who have the ability to code new solutions or integrations on their own. It’s also likely to be helpful for businesses that need tools for training or education, since it’s built with teachers and students in mind.
Lifesize is a video conferencing solution built with remote collaboration in mind. The solution is known for providing clear HD video and audio meetings thanks to a global cloud network and secure data centers. Lifesize also provides seamless integration with other communication tools. So you can set up a conference room with quality video and audio content while enjoying the functionality and features of other scheduling and collaboration tools.
There is a free plan available for individuals that includes up to 10 participants and native desktop and mobile apps. There are also premium plans available starting at $12.50 that offer a centralized management platform and meetings with hundreds of users.
17. Intermedia AnyMeeting
Intermedia AnyMeeting provides video conferencing platforms for businesses of all sizes. It’s available both on desktop and mobile devices and is made to be easy to use. Attendees can even join meetings without downloading extra software. They can either click a link or call in using a conference number and a dedicated pin. Features include screen sharing, integrated audio, and transcripts. There are solutions for both online meetings and webinars.
In addition to the basic features, Intermedia AnyMeeting can also be integrated with other video meeting solutions like Outlook, Slack, and Microsoft Teams. There are also pro features available, including custom branding, meeting notes, and remote control options. There’s a free version available. But the pro plan runs for $12.99 per user per month. And you can access a 30-day free trial to try out the premium versions.
18. ezTalks Meetings
ezTalks Meetings is a simple tool for video conferencing and webinars. It’s free to sign up. And you can even use an existing Google or Facebook account to access the platform. It offers chat, video, and audio communication. And you can even set up rooms, share files, and collaborate with a virtual whiteboard. The platform also allows you to set up different rooms for specific purposes. Then the host can access controls that limit the number of users in each room and authorize presenters.
In addition to the actual video conferencing software solutions, the business also provides a variety of hardware solutions. These include cameras and audio equipment designed to enhance the quality of audio and video calls even more. The free version of this tool is just meant for quick meetings of ten minutes or less with two participants. And premium plans start at $10 per host monthly and include features like call recording, online storage, and unlimited group meetings with 100 or more participants.
StarLeaf is a global collaboration and video conferencing platform. It’s designed as an enterprise solution. So there are tons of customization options for specific industries and business needs. The platform is available on both desktop and mobile devices. And you can use it for large virtual conferences or small weekly meetings. Since it’s an enterprise grade solution, security is also a major priority. It is compliant with HIPAA, ISO/IEC 27001, and NCSC Cloud Security Principles.
There’s a free version available with unlimited one-to-one calling and meetings of up to 20. And premium plans start at $14.99 per host each month. Premium features include things like unlimited file sharing storage, a central admin dashboard, and reporting and monitoring. There are even options for integrations with popular business platforms and an API for those who want to personalize the experience even more. And you can even invest in hardware solutions designed for conference rooms and spaces of all sizes.
Join.me is an online meeting solution that offers all the basic features you may need to host video calls and training sessions. You can host video and audio calls via internet, phone, or VoIP. And the platform also offers screen sharing and mobile apps so users can participate from anywhere.
Join.me is now part of the GoToMeeting family. So many of the features are now integrated with the company’s other tools. But the tool still exists on its own to support users who just need the basic functionality. You can simply start a meeting on the platform and then share a link with team members or clients so they can quickly join you. They don’t need to download specific software or purchase any new tools to attend a meeting or presentation, making it perfect for those who just need a quick way to close deals or get a point across.
Video Conferencing and the End of Adobe Flash
Many websites and programs have used Adobe Flash to play videos, games, and animations in the past. However, the feature shut down at the end of 2020.
At this point, many video conferencing systems don’t use Flash to facilitate their video content. So the change shouldn’t have a huge impact on everyday users.
Additionally, Adobe launched its Connect video conferencing solution as part of its transition away from Flash. This option does not use the old technology. It instead uses its own HTML client for participants to connect with one another.
Video Conferencing Software during the Coronavirus Pandemic
Remote work was already on the rise before 2020. But the COVID-19 pandemic certainly led to a major increase in video conferencing participants. In fact, about 58 percent of employees worked remotely at least sometimes in 2020. And about two thirds of those remote workers would like to continue doing so in the future.
Since so many companies had to quickly pivot to a remote work model, they needed to adapt with video conferencing solutions. These video and audio tools allowed companies to facilitate collaboration between teams and clients and maintain some sense of normal. These tools helped show some companies how possible and beneficial a remote work model could be — pandemic or not. In fact, 83 percent of employers considered their transition to remote work to be successful. Many even realized how much money they could save by allowing employees to work remotely and enjoyed how this model allowed them to bring in talent from all over the world.
So while the coronavirus pandemic did lead to an influx of users on platforms like Zoom and Cisco Webex, many of them are likely to stick around.
Why does your business need a video conferencing solution?
Businesses can use video conferencing solutions to facilitate calls and meetings with individuals in other locations. They can host conversations between team members in different offices or those who travel or work remotely. Some businesses may even find that video conferencing software solutions allow them to adopt remote work models permanently. Additionally, companies can use video and audio calls to communicate with clients, investors, and others outside their teams.
What businesses need a video conferencing tool?
Nearly all businesses can use video conferencing software from time to time. However, those with remote teams, traveling employees, and multiple offices are most likely to use them for internal communications. Additionally, those that work on client based projects can utilize them to communicate outside their teams.
What features to look for in video conferencing software?
The exact features you prioritize when looking for the best video conferencing software really depends on your business’s specific needs. However, here are a few that are relevant to many companies:
- Number of participants: Each video conferencing software has a different limit for how many people are allowed on a call. If you’re just using video conferencing for your small team, you only need a small limit. If you plan to communicate with larger groups, make sure your software choice can accommodate.
- Chat: Video conferencing solutions are often part of a larger communication platform. And this adds extra functionality for a lot of teams. You can quickly chat with someone to make sure they’re ready to jump on a call or share notes afterward in written format.
- Screen sharing: Video conferences often require some kind of demonstration. The ability to share your screen allows other participants to clearly see what you’re doing.
- Presentation features: There are also more advanced presentation features like slides available on some video conferencing services. These are likely to be especially relevant if your company plans to host trainings or meet with clients via video.
- VoIP integration: More and more companies are using VoIP solutions to host voice calling as well. Keeping your video conferencing software and voice calling service under one umbrella can help you simplify things.
- Recording: If you plan to share any of your video conferences after the call is complete, look for software that offers recording. This is especially relevant if you plan to use the conferences for trainings or webinars that may offer repeatable value.
- Notes and transcripts: If you want to share highlights from meetings afterward, a transcript feature can help you share the information with those who couldn’t attend. Some tools also offer a notes feature that highlights just a few important points so you don’t have to sift through everything.
- Branding: For companies that use video conferencing tools to communicate with clients or potential customers, branding may be useful. Some video conferencing services allow you to integrate your logo, color scheme, and other elements into the interface. This simply provides a more professional appearance.
- Speaker tracking: On video calls with multiple participants, it can sometimes be difficult to keep track of who is speaking when. Speaker tracking does this automatically. Usually, it highlights the user or puts their image larger on the screen.
- Mobile apps: Some solutions are just available online or on desktop apps. While these may work for those who only communicate using computers, they’re not ideal for a mobile workforce. For those with traveling teams or who may need to communicate with mobile clients, look for tools that offer iOS, Android, or other mobile apps.
- HD video: Video quality is one of the most important elements when choosing between video conferencing services. You don’t want your company to look unprofessional with grainy video or fall behind waiting for screens to load. Many services offer HD video. But the actual quality may vary. So it may be worth trying out a few options to see which ones meet your quality needs.
What is the best free video conferencing software?
The best video conferencing software may vary depending on your specific needs. However, a few of the most popular include Zoom, Skype, and Google Meet, which is free with a G-Suite membership. These options all provide basic video calling and communication features. And their wide popularity make them an easy choice for communicating with users outside your organization.
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