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Video conferencing software: How to choose the best online meeting software for your business

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As the work-from-home trend grows, more and more video conferencing solutions are becoming available. But how are you supposed to know which one is the best?

It totally depends on your needs and why you are deciding to invest in video conferencing software. Are you looking for a collaboration tool to increase success among in-office and remote workers? Are you looking for easier ways to meet and chat with international clients and colleagues? Are you looking to cut costs, either through streamlining processes or employee overhead? Are you interested in hosting online events to share your expertise with other businesses?

What do you mean by “video conferencing?”

Video conferencing is a term used by a lot of companies, from large corporations to small- and medium-sized businesses, but at its core, video conferencing is essentially software that lets multiple people in different locations on a shared conference call collaborate and communicate through audio and video.

With so many video conferencing apps available, you’ve probably joined meetings before or used it before without realizing, like with Skype or FaceTime to chat with friends and family. And with the surge of remote work, video chatting has grown to be just as beneficial for businesses.

This type of software is, of course, used for online meetings, but most options give you the ability to share screens and share editing privileges for real-time collaboration, chat functions, file sharing, and live streaming, the ability to record meetings, among many, many others.

How does video calling work?

Technology has come a long way, especially in the last few years—from smartphones to smart homes—and video calling is no different. You might have worked at an office with teleconferencing rooms decked out with expensive monitors, microphones, cameras, advanced audio and video systems, and a specialized phone system.

Nowadays, though, video conferencing can be done with standard desktop and mobile devices, like laptops, tablets, and smartphones, either through web browsers or dedicated video conferencing apps.

Most video calling software doesn’t require a login or an account to join an online meeting, but if you want to host a meeting, you’ll need an account. Luckily, a lot of companies offer free plans—the thing is, they often have limitations on the number of meeting participants you can have, users per month, or the ability to record meetings, so you might have to opt for one of their paid plans.

We’ve broken down the basics for how to host a meeting and join a meeting, since most work the same way. Of course, whatever software you choose might differ from our instructions using RingCentral below, but this will give you a basic idea of how easy it is to use this kind of software.

If you’re hosting a meeting
If you’re joining a meeting
  • Log in to your video conferencing app, which should give you the choice to host or join a meeting:
How to start a video conference in RingCentral Teams
  • From here, if you’re scheduling, you’ll be brought to a place to fill out your meeting name, the date and time, if it’s recurring, if you want to add a password, and which calendar you’d like to sync it to
RingCentral Teams settings interface
  • Click schedule, and you’re done—just copy the meeting details and send them to anyone you’d like to invite to your meeting
Scheduling a meeting in RingCentral Teams
  • If you’re setting up a spontaneous meeting, when you click “Meet,” you’ll be brought to the conference page and given a meeting ID to share out

Typically, you should have received an email with a link and a call-in number from the person who scheduled the meeting. Once you click that link, you’ll be brought to the video conferencing website, where you can join through a browser or download their meeting app.

If you don’t have a link or you only have a meeting ID, you have do slightly more work:

  • Go to the company’s website
  • On the homepage, usually at the top, you should see a link that says “Join a meeting” or something similar
RingCentral join meeting navigation link
  • You will be brought to a new page where you’ll enter the meeting ID from the email invitation
RingCentral join a meeting form
  • You may then be asked to open or download their program, but afterward, you’ll be brought into the meeting

What is video conferencing used for?

There are endless possibilities when using video conferencing software. It’s a place for creating, brainstorming, collaborating, training, live streaming, file sharing, video chatting, and so much more—it really is an incredibly flexible tool.

Video conferencing has transformed in the last decade, becoming more affordable and accessible for any business, not just the huge companies with unlimited spending budgets. Instead of being used for business meetings between teams across the world, it’s now for all aspects of a business’ success, from marketing to strategy to budgeting to creative to management.

Collaborating among team members or with clients

Of course, the most all-around use for video conferencing is as a collaboration tool. Whether that’s between two people or two hundred, having a software that lets people come together, looking at the same screen at the same time is hugely beneficial. And with basic plans offering screen and file sharing, video chatting, the ability to record, you have options for finding what works best for you. If you decide to go with one of the paid plans, you’ll find even more options for increasing collaboration.

So say goodbye to wasted time and energy—and hello to everything you can do through video calling:

  • Defining the services you can offer in a contract
  • Strategic marketing between you and your clients
  • Outlining or completing requests for new proposals or qualifications
Collaborating among team members or with clients

Teaching new ideas and concepts

This has really come to the forefront of daily conversations, considering the numerous limitations the coronavirus crisis placed on our society. Students and teachers all around the globe have been restricted from returning to school and many businesses have had to transition their day-to-day work to be fully digital.

But thanks to business video conferencing, daily tasks that were often done in person can be completed remotely:

  • Learn new products and processes
  • Teach to a virtual classroom of students
  • Present clients about a new service you are providing
Teacher using video conferencing to teach class remotely

Interviewing new employees and pitching to leads

You’ve probably pitched to new clients in their office, interviewed applicants in your office, and toured new vendors’ facilities to get a better idea of what they can offer you, but those are very time-consuming and cost a lot of money. Moving to using a video calling software can help reduce wasting those resources significantly:

  • Qualify and pitch to new clients or leads
  • Interview potential employees
  • Learn about how new vendors can help your business succeed
Applicant being interviewed virtually through video conferencing

Meetings for strategizing, projecting, and project management

Meeting with employees, vendors, and practically anyone you work with is essential for keeping things on schedule and on budget. While this is often done in office, you have probably struggled with those off-site.

You send an email asking for status updates, wait a day or more for a response that doesn’t answer your question completely, then email back for clarification to only wait for another day or two. Now, just jumping on a call with both audio and video can be the most efficient solution:

  • Interdepartmental check-ins for prioritizing work
  • Annual budgeting
  • Strategizing best practices for project management
A team having a video conference using RingCentral

What are the advantages and disadvantages of video conferencing?

While using a video conferencing platform can be a fantastic solution for many of your business practices, it’s also important to know its limitations, so you can make the best decision for your business. You might find that things you are doing now are working perfectly, so you might not need to transition to a digital solution, or you may find only a few things are working fine now, and you want to explore other ways to drive your company forward.

Advantages of a conferencing solution

  • Flexibility in location and time

  • Staying connected from anywhere at any time

  • Collaborating in real time for team-based solutions

  • Expanding opportunities outside of your usual clientele

  • Saving time and money and retaining talent

Disadvantages of web conferencing services

  • Limited to what can be done digitally

  • Reliance on internet connection and speed

  • Some software needs extensive training

  • Personal connections and team building

  • Coordinating schedules among multiple people

Advantages of a conferencing solution

  • Flexibility in location and time

When you’re traveling or needing to stay home to take care of the kids or waiting for the plumber to show at your house, you can miss a lot of important meetings and conference calls. With the option of having a video meeting—either scheduled or spontaneous—you can stay on top of things. Working from home and traveling are no longer taking time out of the already little you have—you now have options.

  • Staying connected from anywhere at any time

Business happens around the world at all times, and it’s becoming increasingly vital to be available at a moment’s notice. Many conversations and decisions can be done with a phone call or email, but with the availability to speak face-to-face with someone may help in coming to a solution or building a deeper, more successful relationship faster. Since most video conferencing solutions offer a mobile app to use on your tablet or mobile device, you won’t have to keep your laptop on you at all times.

It also allows you to maintain relationships with the contacts and talent you most value if they move to a different town, state, or country.

  • Collaborating in real time for team-based solutions

Collaboration becomes so much easier through business video conferencing—instead of a group huddling around a screen or emailing concepts back and forth, ideas and solutions happen in real time.

Many services offer screen sharing, specifically as a collaboration tool, so your whole team can work together and bounce ideas back and forth. And this isn’t even limited to connecting teams across the world (even though that is a definite plus), sharing screens and brainstorming with those in the office allows everyone their own space to reflect and strategize on ways to move forward.

  • Expanding opportunities outside of your usual clientele

To bundle all of the points so far, with an option to have face-to-face conversations in the comfort of your own space without wasting time and money, business video conferencing can give you a wider net to reach new clients. Before, engaging with clients who are far away and possibly outside your typical target was costly and time consuming. With the ability to set up video conferences, those riskier clients might become a little less risky.

  • Saving time and money and retaining talent

How much did you pay for your work computer? Assuming it’s a laptop from the past five years, you probably spent somewhere from $500 to $1,000. How much did it cost last time you traveled to a client meeting? If it wasn’t local, did you take the train? It’s around $200 for a round trip from NY to Boston and takes a total of seven hours of traveling (and that’s one of the cheaper options—if you went with a faster train or higher-class seat, you’d be paying more).

Did you have to stay overnight? Even before seeing a client or potential lead, you’ve cost yourself seven hours of time, a $200 ticket, a night in a hotel, and if you went out for dinner or breakfast.

You’ll also save money because you’re using a versatile software that supports working remotely. You may think this is because of less costs associated with maintaining a physical office (though, it would), but the real savings come from employee retention and happiness.

When your remote workers for at least half of their time, you could see a savings of $11,000 per year. On top of that, those who work remotely are 22% happier than those who don’t, and employee happiness is directly related to the success of your business.

Plus, you’ll see increased productivity, better work-life balance, increased job satisfaction, among so many other benefits.

Disadvantages of web conferencing services

  • Limited to what can be done digitally

As much as we love embracing new digital solutions, there are some tasks that just can’t be done through web conferencing programs, regardless of how advanced a tool is. For example, if you were looking for a particular conversation, you can’t search a word or phrase in a video like you could for email, and rewatching an entire meeting could take some time and energy.

  • Reliance on internet connection and speed

Using any service that relies on being online and connected has its risks: your WiFi could be down, your connection is spotty, your current speed isn’t enough to keep up with video streaming, and if you’re traveling, you’ll either be using a hotspot or, potentially, an insecure wireless connection. And if you’re recording meetings, your connection and speed could affect the quality and usability.

  • Some software needs extensive training

There are many, many options out there that are incredibly complex, but if it’s fulfilling your needs, it’s worth a try. This may require some extensive online training, which you may find more or less challenging when working remotely.

On one hand, you are able to learn using your own screen, but, on the other hand, you won’t have someone physically there to walk you through it. Regardless, training takes time, which costs money, and that adds up—especially if it extends to multiple employees.

  • Personal connections and team building

Though it’s much better than strictly talking on the phone or email, most video conferencing solutions haven’t quite matched the quality of a connection made in person. This can also translate into a lack of team building among employees, which can then translate into you or your employees working as separate moving parts instead of one cohesive unit.

  • Coordinating schedules among multiple people

This is more of an issue if you are looking for a quick answer that can be achieved in email, phone call, or quickly stopping at someone’s desk. When you are remote and video conferences are one of your main sources of communication, you’ll have to find a time that works for everyone or call someone randomly, hoping they are there to answer.

How to choose the best video conferencing for small business

When searching for the perfect video conferencing solution, there are basic features that are included in most free plans, like HD video, cloud storage, top-rated data security, the ability to record meetings, etc. When you’re looking at paid plans, make sure to compare them with others, so you aren’t paying for something you shouldn’t.

  • Intuitive design for quick learning and ease of use
  • Screen sharing for clearer conversations and stronger collaboration
  • Multi-platform integration for multiple ways to connect
  • Affordable options, especially for small businesses
  • Customer service that works for you, not you for them

Intuitive design for quick learning and ease of use

It goes without saying that the perfect product for you will be the one that you understand and can take advantage of everything it offers. You may need some online training to get used to how the system works and figure out where to find the things you need (for both desktop and mobile versions), but when you use the software, it shouldn’t feel intimidating or overly complicated. It should simply be a tool to make your life easier, to help you have more successful meetings, to keep your business moving forward.

Screen sharing for clearer conversations and stronger collaboration

Screen sharing options are a basic feature that should be included in all video conferencing softwares you are considering—it’s an essential part of making video conferencing a successful part of your processes. Without it, you are only doing slightly more than a phone call, and that’s not worth the investment of time or money.

Whether you’re pitching to a client or reviewing goals with our team, sharing a visual will support what you’re saying and even clarify some things that aren’t as easily explained.

Multi-platform integration for multiple ways to connect

Having a desktop and mobile app is common for many video conferencing softwares, but it’s still incredibly important. Sometimes, you are away from your computer or only working from a mobile device or stuck standing during your commute—if a client or business partner wants to meet to discuss new business plans and opportunities or closing a contract, you want to be available in any way you can. By letting someone wait, you’re only giving them more time to talk themselves into a new, potentially worse decision.

Affordable options, especially for small businesses

Because of how common video conferencing software is, it shouldn’t be overly expensive. Of course, this is completely dependent on what you will need and how many users per month you’ll have, but if you are a small-to-medium business, your needs shouldn’t exceed that of a large corporation, so why should you be treated the same? Find the one that fits your needs with a plan made for the size of your business.

Customer service that works for you, not you for them

Whether you are using the free or paid plans, when you contact sales or customer service, it should be a positive experience with a knowledgeable team member.

You shouldn’t feel as if you are bothering them or potentially risking the price you negotiated—you are their client, and, as a business owner, you know how a client should be treated.

What is the best app for video conferencing?

Of course, there’s no perfect answer. The best video meeting app wholly depends on what you need for your business. This is going to differ from company to company, and certain video conferencing software companies may even customize the perfect plan for you when you. What we can tell you is why RingCentral is a strong contender for the best video calling software.

Why RingCentral should be your go-to video conferencing solution

  • It’s affordable
  • It works across operating systems and devices
  • You have access to a customer service team who can answer all your questions
  • It’s easy to pick up and use

It’s affordable

You shouldn’t have to pay an outrageous amount for a quality product, especially if it’s filled with features you’ll never use. RingCentral offers various plans with a wide range of features, so you can get exactly what you need at a reasonable price. At our basic level, you get unlimited 1:1 meetings, group meetings up to 100 participants, screen sharing, desktop and mobile sharing, team messaging and collaboration, Outlook integration, joining meetings across multiple platforms, and the ability to record. All for the $0 per user per month.

It works across operating systems and devices

Work from your phone, tablet, laptop, or whatever hardware you choose, no matter where you are. Whenever you need to hop on calls, schedule meetings, or shoot quick messages out to your team, you can do it all with our easy-to-use mobile app or whatever device is most convenient for you at that time.

You have access to a customer service team who can answer all your questions

With offices in the United States, United Kingdom, France, China, Philippines, and Australia, our team is always available, no matter which time zone, to help you out. We love helping our customers have the best possible experience. Our customer service team is with you from the moment you engage with us and on. There are specially dedicated teams at all stages of your onboarding, and you work with an assigned technical account manager and an assigned customer success manager to help you with any questions you have.

It’s easy to pick up and use

Simply, our video conferencing software is intuitive and easy to use. You will be ready to use RingCentral in minutes with an onboarding specialist who will walk you through everything you will need to know. And before you know it, you’ll be sending messages, setting up meetings, and checking things off your list like a pro.

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