What Do You Need to Have a Remote Meeting?
Consumer services such as Skype and Facetime have made video communications a normal part of everyday personal life but have been a bit slow to really see much use in business life. However, as working from home has become a more common practice over the last few weeks due to the coronavirus/Covid-19 lock-down, having a reliable remote meeting service has become more important than ever for all businesses.
Remote meeting services usually offer more than just face-to-face interactions by providing ways to let users share their screens, remotely access one another’s desktops, chat via text, exchange files, communicate via digital whiteboards, and even broadcast webinars to large groups of passive viewers.
Remote meeting services are also an efficient way of getting other business tasks done, such as answering customers’ support questions live, interacting with customers in real time webinars or other marketing events, and even placing orders and asking questions with suppliers.
Which Service Should You Use?
When deciding which remote meeting service to use perhaps the most important consideration is ease of use. If the user interface is difficult for you and your colleagues to navigate and use, then it’s going to cause delays in meeting start times, which will frustrate everyone. So you should consider the ease of signing up, creating a meeting, inviting participants, and setting up audio and video controls, as well as considering the user experience from the meeting attendees’ point of view.
- Skype – Skype was possibly one of the first remote meeting apps and now provides free web meeting, chat, screen sharing, video conferencing, and VoIP services. Calls to landlines and mobiles are a paid-for add-on. Pros: Extremely easy to use and user friendly. Cons: Free version is limited to 10 participants per meeting and the interface is a bit dated.
- Facetime – FaceTime excels in terms of video quality. Images are sharper and clearer compared to popular alternatives and HD video calls at up to 720p are supported. It is already integrated within the latest Apple devices and so for Apple users it is a free remote meeting service for up to 32 participants. Pros: Easy to use and nothing to install if you are using a newer Apple device. Cons: Strictly Apple devices, you can’t install it on a Windows or Android device.
- Zoom Meeting – Zoom Meeting‘s claim to fame is top-notch performance, but that’s not the only reason to choose this feature-rich and competitively priced service. Pros: Free account available. Competitively priced paid accounts. Rich features for hosts and participants. Easy to use. Cons: Free account is limited to 40 minutes per session
- Microsoft Teams – Microsoft Teams provides features galore, including integration with Office 365, a paid for service. It’s a great team messaging app which offers chat, video calls and screen sharing. Pros: Highly customisable. Plenty of third party integration options. Included free with Office 365 business accounts and can invite guests, with full functionality even if they don’t have Office 365. Cons: Really set up to be used in a Microsoft environment to get the full benefits.
- TeamViewer – TeamViewer provides features such as document management, cooperative writing, invitation management, remote control, screen sharing, chat and messaging, and there is a free version. Pros: Allows remote access and control of other devices as well as all the remote meeting features. Cons: Original designed to provide remote IT support and this shows in the rather techy interface.
- Cisco Webex Meetings – Cisco Webex Meetings offers a generous free plan and it’s dropped its price considerably in the past couple of years. However, it has some feature limitations you’ll need to test carefully before committing. Pros: Free account available. Minimal voice and video lag. 25 simultaneous video feeds. Cons: “Call Me” account has additional cost. Only one presenter per license.
- GoToMeeting – GoToMeeting is one of the easiest services to use, and its video conferencing feature is a market leader. Pros: Simple user interface. Easy to create meetings. Can use a custom URL to access conference room. Free account available. Meeting transcripts. 25 video feeds. Cons: Webinar features require getting GoToWebinar at additional cost.
- Ring Central – RingCentral Meetings is a low-cost, high-value service but has problems in a few critical areas. However, it’s a free service that offers a lot of value. Pros: Generous free account which works with almost all platforms. Cons: Only local recordings are available. No collaboration with outside users.
What Do You Need for a Remote Meeting?
As well as considering which remote meeting service to use you should also consider the type of equipment required and the remote meeting participants’ broadband capabilities. Most laptops have webcams, speakers and microphones built-in, but this may not be the case for a desktop PC. In which case a good quality HD webcam, which will normally have a microphone built-in, and a set of speakers may be required. Some participants may be more comfortable with a headset/microphone combination as this may allow them to block out the noise of locked-down children at home and so allow them to concentrate fully on the remote meeting.
Many of us take for granted a fast broadband connection but some participants may live in areas of the country that have a slower connection which can affect the quality of the video images that they can receive and transmit, and so they may have to participate in remote meetings without the video element, although most of the other elements such as sharing screens, using chat and digital whiteboards should still function.
There’s Always our Tech Helpline
If you have any questions about any of these remote meeting apps or any other computer-related questions, give us a call on 0345 319 4877 (local call rate). We’ll be happy to help you.