Online meeting is a way to get a group of people, anywhere across the world, to get connected for a meeting or gathering.
It’s a technique where each individual has an access to a computer or smartphone and the internet, and all they need to do is install an online meeting software to their systems to connect and conduct the meeting.
They can chat, do video conferencing, share files or information with each other from their respective locations.
Why Do You Need Online Meetings ?
There are several reasons why one needs to opt for online meetings.
First of all, it reduces the travel cost. People residing near or far do not need to travel all the way to one particular place for a meeting, when they can just do video conferencing from their respective locations.
One meeting link connects people globally at the pre-decided time. So it becomes far easier to reach an agreement and get immediate results. Of course if the need be, you can reschedule it again without wasting anybody’s time. Even the smartphone users can host or connect to the meeting link while on the go.
The online meetings can also be recorded, viewed and shared. This helps the one who is unable to attend the meeting, get up-to-date, without missing any point.
Let’s take a quick look at 10 best online meeting softwares available and what they offer.
MeetingBurner is hassle free and easy to use. It allows you to seamlessly stream your whole screen or a portion of it to all the conference participants, with minimal lag (if your connection is strong enough). Works great with a native app to capture your screen and stream it in MeetingBurner.
It also has a calling functionality that allows a participant to call in to a meeting, through a regular phone or Skype, in the same way a traditional conference call would be held.
MeetingBurner has choppy audio. It has no mobile applications.
No control granting; meeting organizers can share their screen, but attendees cannot. This is limiting, especially when you’re doing a product demo. Also, you can only see the meeting organizer’s webcam, but there’s no way to view other attendees.
Meetingburner is still in the beta version, which means if your meetings are mission critical, you need the reliability and scalability of an established vendor like WebEx.
Meeting attendees get spammed to join after the meeting ends.
9. Fuze Meeting
Fuze Meeting has an attractive layout and offers a smooth and simple to use web conferencing service. It is compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux and is optimized for mobile devices as well.
This meeting interface has the capacity to can handle 12 video streams at once and approximately 250 attendees. The services are compatible with most firewalls and browser types.
Fuze Meeting has no recording features for basic plans.
The VOIP is in the beta stage.
The control granting and screen sharing require another plug-in. Annotation tools have limited functionality.
TeamViewer is a fast and hassle-free method to troubleshoot remote computers. It’s also a great method to get a team together on the web, share screens, chat and work together on documents.
With TeamViewer you can “switch sides,” which means you can trade who has control of the other computer.
It offers mobile apps so you can attend online meetings from your iOS or Android device. Easy file transferring and running a graphics-heavy program or streaming a large video is also a smooth process.
The picture quality is not HD.
It also has performance issues with VoIP while conducting online presentations.
ClickMeeting incorporates Google Translate to enable you to hold international meetings, even if you aren’t fluent in the language.
Though the software itself isn’t available in multiple languages, the chat text can be translated into 52 different languages. Both the original and the translated text can be seen on the screen at the same time.
It can accommodate up to 1000 attendees. It also has options for password protected meetings and denying attendance.
ClickMeeting lacks breakout rooms ( host creates smaller groups within a larger meeting or training session).
Recording is limited, depends upon the subscription plan i.e lower the plan ..lesser the recording time.
The pricing is on the higher side.
6. Adobe Connect
Adobe Connect is a flash based software that smoothly runs the video, audio and chat conferencing on all the desktop browsers and it has numerous functionalities.
The outlook plugin and desktop client make invitation process easy to handle. The pre-configured templates for different types of meetings like training, collaborations activities etc, enables you to customize the layout of the user interface.
You can also save meeting spaces in the cloud and the information stays secure. This is a great advantage for long-term collaborations.
Meeting setup is Adobe Connect is too complex and the meeting recording is not intuitive.
The phone audio is not included. The Private Chat feature doesn’t work on mobile devices.
It also only offers VoIP to join meetings and web conferences without the option of dial-in numbers (some companies still prefer dial in).
Adobe Connect may cost $500-$5500 a year, which translates to a monthly cost of about $40-$400 a month, which is significantly higher cost per month than any other leading web conferencing software.
Skype is a good option for one on one meeting or smaller groups. It offers a free skype-to-skype call and phone-card like calling to go. It provides HD video conferencing and file sharing not only to desktops and phones, but also to HDTVs. It has its own Mac and Linux versions.
Skype’s desktop sharing tools are limited. You can share your entire screen, or a region of your screen, but you can’t share a specific application.
It has low-quality teleconference. The voice quality of Skype-to-Skype calls is good, but the call quality suffers when you try dialing an outside number.
One has to purchase ‘Skype minutes’ to talk to people outside the Skype network.
4. Citrix GoToMeeting
GoToMeeting has a special feature. It is integrated into Google Calendar, Outlook, and the other Microsoft Office products which enables the host to set up meetings directly from a document !
It allows joint editing of documents, without cluttering the tool with extra features.
Highlighting tools are available for the whiteboard or for marking up the content on the screen. The presenter can be switched through the control panel easily. These make multiple presentations easier to accommodate, thereby reducing the meeting planning time.
It can run on Windows 7 or later and on Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) or later.
GoToMeeting lacks cloud storage.
It does not support the conferencing of in-room systems or bridges to its meetings. Organisations with Video Conferencing infrastructure must instead connect via Mobile/Tablet or PC/Laptop with Webcam.
Unlike other services, participants need the meeting ID code to enter, and if they enter by phone, they need an audio PIN.
GoToWebinar has all the features of GoToMeetings and much more. It is easy to use, reliable and can accommodate up to 1000 attendees. You can setup a live chat, polling, question and answer, whiteboarding etc. It also provides reports that can help you analyze where the person has lost interest in your presentation, encouraging you to make the necessary improvements.
GoToWebinar requires you (and your attendees) to download software before using the program along with the use of Java which means you cannot host the webinar directly from your website.
The Mac version doesn’t have webinar recording.
You can’t deliver webinars from the mobile applications since it does not work with smartphones or tablets.
No internal payment option, which makes it difficult to use GoToWebinar for paid or subscription-based presentations.
Zoom has a simple interface that allows for a HD video conferencing with a HD audio. It allows screen sharing by the host as well as the participants.
It also gives multiple full screen video feeds to several layouts within multiple screens. Zoom also integrates with dropbox which allows for quick synchronization of the documents in real time and keeping them up-to-date. It is a good option for cloud video conferencing for both small gatherings or large-scale meetings.
Runs on Windows XP or later and on Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later.
Recording feature needs improvement.
Single login allows to host just one meeting and not more.
WebEx offers varied functionalities. It has HD video capability and the option to dial in from a landline.
It has customizable layouts. Each file or whiteboard has a dedicated tab. It allows the host to easily switch between the whiteboards, documents and screen sharing. The ‘desktop control’ feature enables the host to even remotely control the desktop of other attendees in the meeting, in order to express themselves more clearly during the discussions. It also allows private messaging.
WebEx unarguably excels in improved preparation, automatic recording and follow-ups of the meetings. It can run MS Powerpoint and integrates well with MS Outlook, IM servers etc.
It runs on Windows XP or later, Mac OS X 10.5 or higher while in Linux, it runs on Firefox.
WebEx’s mobile app allows you to host the meeting from the smartphones or tablets as well. The apps are available for Android, Apple, Blackberry and Windows devices.
Every subscription plan offers the same features but differs only for the number of attendees, so it’s apt for businesses of all size.
WebEx premium customers have a unique option to add the ‘Call Me’ service to their plan, which acts as a meeting reminder, and simply answering the call enables them to straight away connect to the meeting.
Since there are numerous setting options and multiple functionalities on the user interface, the tool can become less user friendly. However, once you get a hang of it, this virtual tool is most enjoyable.
The pricing is affordable for a smaller group but it can get a little expensive for a high-end plans usually for larger organizations.
These are just some of the best video conferencing softwares available.They all offer the basics that you need to conduct a meeting. They all have a few distinct features that makes them stand out but each one has its own limitations. It is up to you to decide what suits you the best or what your organization needs, in terms of features, usage, attendees and of course pricing.
According to us, WebEx stands out the most as it provides an all-in-one web conferencing solution. Even though it might be a bit expensive for high-end plans, it’s totally worth it.. considering the superior user experience and the numerous features that it offers.