You need to conduct a meeting, but nobody's in the same location. You've got a client that's in one time zone, and your marketing director is in another. You've got a sick kid at home, but the meeting must go on. Virtual meeting platforms make it possible to meet without meeting face-to-face, and as non-traditional office culture gains traction, it's quickly become one of the most popular ways to conduct business.
At SpinWeb, we embrace the virtual meeting; our beloved ROWE lifestyle means that we're rarely all in the same place at the same time. However, this doesn't stop us from meeting regularly, and it doesn't inhibit our ability to work with clients that aren't near the office.
We've used GoToMeeting for years. However, it's expensive, it's a huge download, we've been having audio issues with it, and it's not lightweight, but it does have a ton of great enterprise features. As the tech progresses, we started to wonder if it's possible for our team to find something cheaper, lighter, easy to use, but still powerful?
What platforms are available, and how do they perform? We've field-tested four different options, and we're ready to spill. What are the pros and cons of each platform? Which ones will suit your particular needs? Read on for the skinny on virtual meeting platforms.
Within the last two years, Zoom has quickly become a very popular option for virtual meetings. With awesome video, audio and screen sharing quality, ease of use, and screen sharing on any iPhone/iPad app to name just a few of the features, Zoom was a very popular option with the SpinWeb team.
"The times I’ve used Zoom for video conference or a call it was really smooth and there were no delays. I was able to use VOIP, and set up was simple, too."—Stephanie Fisher, Content Manager
"I have yet to lose a meeting or have any delays." —Abby Stearns, Director of Business Development
While the majority of the comments about Zoom were raves, there were a couple of criticisms.
"As a joiner of a meeting, I can’t seem to figure out how to have video off as the default. Every time I join one I’m nervous if the video will just start."—Amy Metherell, Project Manager
"I agree with Amy on the video portion; I wish it were a little more user friendly to turn things 'off'."—Abby Stearns
SpinWeb Team Rating: 9/10
Google's communication platform includes everything from instant messaging to video chat. Google Hangouts is fairly spartan, but it's consistent and, best of all, free. As long as you've got a Google account and a desire to reach out to someone else who has a Google account, you're set.
"I really like Google Hangouts. It's seems to be easier to use for clients; it's not super techie, most people have a gmail account, and they don't need to add anything to their computer." —Celena Wolverton, WordPress and Website Specialist
"I actually really like Google Hangouts; I have used it from home a bunch to join team meetings and things. Everything is always pretty clear for me."—Abby Stearns
On the flip side, there are some negatives to Google Hangouts.
"These just take a toll on my machine. I don’t hate them, but I would rather use Zoom or GoToMeeting first."—Allison Gibbs, Strategist
SpinWeb Team Rating: 7/10
This platform offers many of the options available in GoToMeeting, such as screen share and call recording. However, our team had some issues with UberConference, and they didn't hold back.
The kindest words our team had for UberConference were pretty meh.
"Uberconference was weird - it worked fine for me, but the hold music is odd and the automated voice is odd as well. It just felt weird."—Amy Metherell
The majority of the team REALLY didn't enjoy their experience with UberConference.
"I only used it once with someone from HubSpot because they were trying it out. We ended up needing to call each other on the phone. BUST!"—Abby Stearns
"This was not a good experience. I can’t even give specifics because I think the stress of using it gave me a stroke." —Allison Gibbs
SpinWeb Team Rating: 4/10
Cost: There's a free option that's restricted to 10 participants, or a business option that allows you up to 100 participants and eliminates the audio advertising for $15/month.
Join.Me is another option that offers virtual meetings and video conferencing capabilities, but one of the advantages to using this platform is the fact that it allows up to 10 video feeds at a time—more than most of their competitors. Additionally, they offer the option of creating a personalized link, so you can put your name or your company's name in the link you send to everyone who is invited to your meeting.
"Join.Me always worked well for me and I liked that you could have a personalized link."—Amy Metherell
"Yet another tool I tested out with someone from HubSpot. It worked okay, but I didn’t think it was that fancy."—Allison Gibbs
There weren't any negative comments; the overall feeling seemed to be that it was an acceptable substitute for GoToMeeting, but it wasn't anything to get excited about.
SpinWeb Team Rating: 6/10
Price: Simple screen sharing is free, the online meeting with productivity features option is $20/month, and the premium version with management capabilities is $25/month.
The winner seems to be Zoom, hands down. The speed, the ease of use, and the dependability of the platform spells V-I-C-T-O-R-Y for Zoom.
Have you had any experience with these platforms, positive or negative? Share your thoughts in the comments below!