Updated August 2020
Picking the right tools for your business is no cakewalk.
Not only do you have to figure out exactly what you need from the tool, but you also need to decide which brand offers you the most bang for your buck.
And it’s no different when it comes to picking the right video teleconferencing solution. Whether you’re expanding your home working policy, or your international client base is beginning to grow, or you’re just looking to improve your team’s ability to collaborate without any technical obstacles, the fact is that choosing a good teleconferencing tool can drastically transform your whole company’s workflow for the better.
But where should you start? What should you look for?
As a company that specializes in helping teams stay connected, we know that the (huge) variety of teleconferencing solutions out there can make it difficult to figure out the option that’s actually best suited to your needs. Not only that, but most “guides” to teleconferencing solutions do little more than offer a super generic description of the tool in question. So, we’ve put together an overview of all the things you should be looking for in a teleconferencing tool, plus a rundown of what the top players in the market actually have to offer.
Skip ahead if you want to get straight to the meat:
- What is a teleconferencing solution?
- What to look for in a teleconferencing solution
- The 5 best teleconferencing solutions out there
Let’s start by defining a few terms.
A teleconferencing solution is basically any technology that lets you communicate verbally in real-time with another person or group of people who aren’t in the same location.
These solutions include traditional conference call services that let you hear the person you’re talking to, as well as video conferencing platform that let you hear and see them (think of video conferencing as a sub-branch of teleconferencing). Many teleconferencing solutions also come with extra built-in features to make sharing and collaborating even easier, like team messaging and screen sharing. For example, RingCentral Video lets you share your screen in just a few clicks:
The beauty of teleconferencing is that it makes it easy to host live meetings, brainstorming sessions, and interviews with your coworkers and clients wherever they are. And in a world of international business connections, distributed teams, and socially distanced workplaces, any remote working tool that enables face-to-face interaction will be essential for helping you retain that all-important human touch in your business communications.
So, what exactly should you expect from a good teleconferencing solution?
Although voice-only conference call systems are widely available, we think it’s generally better for a small business to opt for an all-in-one solution that includes audio conferencing, video conferencing, and other functionality all under the same hood.
We’ve believed in the power of unified communications (aka UCaaS) from the beginning and as Gartner has pointed out (for many years), we offer arguably the most comprehensive solution in the industry.
Not only does this keep things simple (no messy spreadsheet filled with forgotten login details!), but it can also save you a lot of money since you’re not paying for multiple subscriptions.
When thinking about what features to look for in a teleconferencing solution, it’s important to distinguish between the “must-haves” and the “nice-to-haves.” Here are the essential features you should expect to find in any teleconferencing solution worth its salt:
- Team messaging: Whether your platform comes equipped with a native messaging feature or seamlessly integrates with a separate app, the fact is that team chat functionality adds an entirely new dimension to your team’s communications.
- Call controls: From screen sharing, to call recording, to managing participant access, your platform should let you customize your calls to meet your needs.
- Ease of use: The platform should have a clean user interface and intuitive design features so that your team members can pick it up in no time.
- Third-party integrations: No app is an island. A truly useful teleconferencing solution will offer integrations with other apps you’re already using to create more efficient workflows.
- A mobile app: To make sure your teams can truly stay connected wherever they are, your teleconferencing platform better be accessible on mobile devices.
- Customer support: When problems arise or you need more information, quality customer support will ensure you get the most out of your purchase.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the best teleconferencing solutions on the market.
It won’t come as a surprise, but our pick of the bunch is RingCentral. Let us explain…
RingCentral is an integrated teleconferencing solution that combines phone, video, and messaging all into one easy to use application—available on any device. So instead of having to jump to a different tool each time you switch communication channels, you and your team can simply rely on RingCentral to cater to all your communication needs.
With RingCentral’s all-in-one workspace, your conversations can seamlessly flow from one channel to another. For example, you might use the team messaging feature to coordinate the speakers for your video conference or to follow up with individual attendees after the conference. Plus, RingCentral’s smart-switch feature lets you start a conversation on, say, your phone, and switch to using your computer once you’re back at your desk:
RingCentral also lets you share files whenever you’re collaborating with teammates on a document or presentation. You and your teammates can also live-annotate documents during video calls so you can see each other’s changes and suggestions:
RingCentral basically works like a team collaboration hub: not only does it give you a unified workspace with multiple communication channels, but it also lets you create and assign tasks for yourself and team members so you can track the progress of important projects. Your tasks will show in your team chat, and everyone can see who’s working on what to make it easy to stay on top of things:
A major benefit of RingCentral is that participants can join an audio or video call directly from their internet browser—there’s no need to download any additional apps. Anyone can join using the dial-in number found in your meeting ID, and for extra security (and to avoid getting Zoombombed), you can simply add an optional password to your conference meetings.
RingCentral has no user limit, meaning everyone in your team can have their own account. Everyone on the Standard plan or higher will also have access to free, 24/7 live support. What’s more, you’ll have access to the RingCentral Community, an active forum where you can ask questions and share your thoughts with thousands of other like-minded RingCentral users (who mostly consist of other small business owners and managers).
What does it cost?
If you’re just looking for audio conferencing and team messaging, the Essentials plan starts at $19.99 per user, per month. At $24.99, the Standard plan provides a messaging, phone, and video system combined, plus unlimited chat and phone support. At $34.99, the Premium plan offers the same as well as features like automatic call recording and a developer platform. The Ultimate plan costs $49.99 per month and includes unlimited storage. Check out a more detailed breakdown of what each plan offers.
Best for small businesses that…
Want the Swiss-Army Knife of teleconferencing solutions: video, phone, chat—plus all the extras—neatly packaged in one beautiful app.
🕹️ Get a hands-on look at how RingCentral works by booking a demo:
Next up on our list is Webex, a video-first teleconferencing solution from Cisco that lets you provide remote customer support, host webinars, conduct online training, webcast big online events, or simply have a virtual, face-to-face meeting with a coworker:
Webex consists of a broad suite of collaboration tools including—among other applications—Webex Meetings and Webex Teams. Webex Meetings is the core video conferencing solution, allowing for real-time discussion between up to 200 participants at a time. Want to encourage participation? You can create in-call polls to get everyone’s opinion on a question. The application also lets you use voice commands to activate the AI-powered Webex Assistant to help organize notes, create meeting highlights, and arrange follow-ups with other team members.
Webex Teams is the team-collaboration branch of Webex, including features like video calling, team messaging, content sharing, and whiteboarding. Webex Teams is available for everyone with Webex Meetings.
Like RingCentral, Webex also supports audio-only calls and your meeting invites will include a toll or toll-free dial-in number that lets participants connect via audio-only. The system includes a handy Call-Me feature that allows participants to join the meeting’s audio by having Webex call them on their phone—no more last-minute scrambling for meeting invites:
Best for small businesses that…
Need a solution that lets them host large-scale virtual events or conferences with people outside the business.
3. Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams offers all the key features you’d expect from a modern-day video teleconferencing solution, such as screen sharing, call recording, and chat functionality. Users can easily switch from messaging their teammates to an audio or video call, capped at a 300 participant limit. Administrators can also use Microsoft Teams to host webinars or large virtual meetings of up to 10,000 participants.
Microsoft Teams works by sorting conversations, meetings, and documents into different channels based on their topic category. This makes it easier to focus on your tasks since you’re not getting distracted by random messages or a cluttered inbox. Plus, when you join a call, the AI-powered background noise filter will make sure you don’t get side-tracked by that barking dog or car horn that’s picked up by someone else’s mic.
Arguably the biggest benefit of Microsoft Teams is its full integration with Microsoft 365, including apps like Outlook, Office Online, and OneNote. Users already using these apps won’t have to worry about switching apps to work on their tasks.
Microsoft Teams gives administrators and hosts a high degree of control over who can join calls and access data, and it requires multi-factor authentication to prevent any unauthorized access. All your data is encrypted in Microsoft’s data centers, but remember, Microsoft can itself access any information stored on its servers.
Best for small businesses that…
Are already heavily reliant on Microsoft 365 apps.
4. Google Meet
Google Meet, formerly Hangouts Meet, is another video teleconferencing solution that forms part of a wider productivity platform—in this case: Google’s G Suite. The platform offers video conferencing for up to 250 participants and integrates with other G Suite apps like Google Chats:
Like RingCentral, one of the upsides of Google Meet is that participants can join meetings directly from their browser, without having to download any additional software. This is especially useful when you want to easily connect with external clients who may not share the same software as you. That said, the platform will only work with Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Edge browsers.
While audio-only conference calling wasn’t the priority during the design of Google Meet, you can still connect to a video call using just your phone provided the administrator enables the “dial-in by phone” option.
Best for small businesses that…
Already use G Suite for the bulk of their productivity apps.
GoToMeeting is one of the oldest teleconferencing platforms around, providing businesses with real-time virtual communication through conference calls, video calls, screen sharing, and, more recently, team chats:
Meeting organizers have comprehensive control over who can attend calls, with the ability to lock entry, mute and dismiss users, and block participants from seeing each other. And the platform also includes some useful features like the Smart Meeting Assistant, which you can use to transcribe your conversations automatically.
However, while the platform may be rich in features, running GoToMeetings may stretch your system resources close to its limits, as reported by TechRadar.
Best for small businesses that…
Are looking for a teleconferencing solution with neat little perks like call transcriptions.
Ready to pick your video teleconferencing solution?
Picking the right teleconferencing solution for your small business isn’t something you need to rush. After all, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, and it takes time to weigh up the options and see how they fare against your budget and your team’s specific requirements.
That said, if you’re looking for a robust solution that does a lot of things well at an affordable price point, you can get a tour of how the product works here: