Video teleconferencing, also known as video conferencing, is a relatively new alternative to attending meetings in person—and it’s gaining popularity fast.
More and more businesses are using video conferencing, it’s even popping up in smart homes (goodbye, telephones), and it can turn your phone system into the most effective tool in your business.
Here, we’ll give you an overview of video conferences, introduce new features like screen sharing, and explore the best free conferencing options—as well as the ones worth paying for.
- What is a video teleconference?
- What is the difference between teleconference and video conference?
- How do I make a video conference call?
- What are the different types of video conferencing?
- Is video conferencing free?
- Video conferencing features
- Video conferencing benefits
- Challenges of video conferencing
- What is the best video conferencing?
What is a video teleconference?
A video teleconference is a video communication that lets two or more parties meet face-face through the internet. Need to have video meetings? You can do it through your desktop and mobile devices, or special video teleconference equipment thanks to video teleconferencing and VoIP technology.
There are two types of video teleconferencing:
- Video conferencing software: can be used for meeting remotely, online learning, and live streaming. Accessible via both video conferencing apps or web browsers, video conferencing software typically has neat audio and video features that let guests meet and chat without being in the same location.
- In-room systems where you can invite participants to join remotely via video calling. These systems can include bespoke additions like Dolby voice for enhanced audio and command center functionality (like security video settings or analytics).
What is the difference between teleconference and video conference?
A teleconference is an audio-only conference call between two or more parties. You can invite participants by sending a calendar invite with your teleconference details, which should include a number to dial from your phone system or mobile devices.
In-call conferencing services are typically restricted to audio-only features like call recording.
A video conference uses the principle of teleconferencing and adds video chats as extra functionality. By upgrading to a video teleconference, you could get more access to features like video recording, file sharing, and screen sharing. Recordings can be accessed via cloud storage once the meeting has finished.
For example, in RingCentral Video, you can share your screen with just a click in your video conference.
How do I make a video conference call?
Just like with starting standard conference calls, joining video conferences is simple. Depending on the video conferencing solution you opt for, the joining experience does vary. But, for the most part, the process is the same.
Below, we’ll outline how to make a video conference call in two scenarios:
- Making a scheduled video conference call
- Making an ad-hoc video conference call
How to make a scheduled video conference call
For both recurring and one-off video meetings, you’ll need to create a meeting invite for everyone to join at the time of the meeting.
- Send a meeting invite from your Google calendar or shared meetings calendar (you can integrate this with video conferencing apps) or via the app itself.
- Include an agenda, invite participants, and include audio and video calling instructions.
- At the scheduled time, the web host and guests can join from a mobile app, web browsers, or video conferencing tool.
- Check your audio and video settings to make sure all guests can hear and see you.
- Meet and chat using features like screen sharing, file sharing, and video recording. You could also invite more people while you’re in the meeting:
- Review the video recording or call recording at a later date and send it to your guests to make sure your video meetings become shared meetings.
How to make an ad-hoc video conference call
To have online meetings at short notice, you can still enjoy video teleconferencing features. Follow these steps to make an ad-hoc video conference call.
- Go to your video conferencing tool and find your meeting ID.
- Share this via email, instant message, or SMS.
- Join the video teleconference via your mobile app, web browser, or video conferencing software.
- Check your audio and video settings to make sure all guests can hear and see you clearly.
- Meet and chat using features like screen sharing, file sharing, and video recording.
- For ad-hoc video conferences, you may need to turn on call recording or video recording.
For example, with RingCentral call recording, you can record all calls or on a one-by-one basis. You can change this in your security video settings or by contacting your administrator.
What are the different types of video conferencing?
Video conferencing differs per vendor and per license within each vendor. Different types also exist based on user and technical needs.
Here are a few types of video conferencing:
These are large screens with HD video which provide an in-person experience for people located in different offices. The setup displays all meeting guests as if they’re sitting together in the same room.
Video conferencing software
Available to install as a computer app, mobile app, or join via web browsers. Video conferencing apps let you have remote meetings with audio and video capabilities. They also provide features like screen sharing and file sharing.
1:1 video chats
Conferencing for small business or scheduled meetings between two people or two locations can be covered by 1:1 video chats. Equipped with features like call recording and screen sharing, 1:1 video calling is available with most cloud phone systems. On a 1:1 level, you often get unlimited meetings included in unified communications packages.
Webinar is a combination of the words “web” and “seminar.” Ideal for live streaming and online learning, webinars provide one-way or two-way audio and video for an interactive user experience. As online education can be quite challenging, it’s important that participants can ask questions to the presenter and chat with other meeting attendees during the webinar.
This reinforces your video teleconference as a marketing tool as well as a powerful communication platform. By adding more use cases to your video teleconference, like using it as a marketing tool, you increase the return on investment.
All-hands meetings are like webinars, but usually conducted one-way. Businesses typically use video conferencing software in these meetings to broadcast messages and company updates. Invite participants company-wide to join from the location of their preference instead of gathering everyone together in a traditional town hall environment.
Is video conferencing free?
Free consumer video conferencing apps have made video meetings standard practice. But while these tools are great for personal video calling needs, they fall short when it comes to running business meetings.
Free business video conferencing software, on the other hand, includes basic features that could meet the needs of a lot of businesses. For example, RingCentral Video by RingCentral offers a free option with unlimited 1:1 video calls with screen sharing.
Your phone system may also include some of the functionality you’re looking for. If you have a VoIP phone system, check if you have video calling included or available as an add-on.
Video conferencing features
When you’re shopping for video conferencing tools, expect to see some of these features:
- HD video
- The ability to join via computer, tablet, or mobile app
- Unlimited meetings for 1:1 users
- Private and group instant messaging
- Screen sharing
- Full-screen and gallery view
- File sharing
- The ability to join meetings from browser extensions
- Webcam capabilities
- Integrations with CRM software
- Cloud storage for call recording and video recording
All these features, and many more, are available through most video conferencing solutions. As you explore different video conferencing tools, premium features like live streaming and webinars can be added.
To get the most out of your video teleconference, there may also be analytics that report on usage and help you spot trends in user behavior. You can see how many users per month are joining video teleconferencing versus those using standard online meetings.
You can also dig into analytics like how many users per month joined successfully or suffered from connection issues.
Video conferencing benefits
Aside from the features offered by different video conferencing tools, it’s also important for you to learn about the major benefits video teleconferences will bring to your business.
When you use video meetings, you can:
- Reduce travel time to meetings
- Reduce travel expenses
- Encourage a remote work culture
- Make sure every attendee can make it to the meeting regardless of location
- Gauge reactions from facial cues and hand gestures
- Meet at times suited to different time zones
- Add context to audio-only calls
- Collaborate on documents in real-time
- Listen to and review meeting recordings
- Increase employee retention
- Connect employees on a more regular basis
- Hire talent without geographical restrictions
- Improve customer satisfaction
- Introduce reliable communications
- Make faster and better decisions
- Integrate with CRM software
When you combine all of these benefits of video meetings, the ultimate output is improved productivity. Think of the boost in time savings, resources, and morale—and the effect on your bottom line. It’s hard to ignore the benefits video conferences can bring, even from day one.
Organizations are already using video meetings to increase productivity. The main benefits include travel cost reductions, shorter meetings, and faster decisions.
The challenges of video conferencing
Where there are benefits, there will always be some challenges with video conferencing. But these can generally be avoided if you choose the right tool.
For example, some examples of the challenges that our customers have told us that RingCentral helps them overcome include:
- Lack of bandwidth to host video calls
- Resistance to turning on video
- A lack of integrations with common business apps
What is the best video conferencing?
To make the right decision, you have to make sure you find a video conferencing tool that’s most suited to your unique needs. As most video conferencing software includes basic functionality like recording and screen sharing, you should dig into bespoke features that you need.
This might be by focusing on video teleconferencing options tailored for a business of your size.
Best video conferencing options for small businesses
Video conferencing for small businesses is a little different compared to if you work for a large organization. For example, businesses with hundreds of employees and many offices will need to think about integrating new conferencing software with existing video equipment.
Pro tip: in small businesses, focus on the features that will make a difference. Introducing video meetings and screen sharing can be enough for some companies.
Depending on your needs, the best video conferencing solution could be a free conferencing solution. For others, you might need a paid license. Take your time to assess and trial the best free options before you make a video teleconference investment.
You can take advantage of RingCentral Video by RingCentral to kickstart video teleconferencing in your small business.
Best video conferencing for large businesses
With a higher number of employees comes a higher number of needs. While there is overlap with small business needs, large businesses may have technical needs and different types of users and customers.
For example, schools and universities may now have to provide online education programs.
If you’re rolling out video teleconferencing in enterprises, consider the whole communications set-up. For example, one key thing to do when introducing video conferencing is to think about your phone system and IP network.
Pro tip: When gathering requirements, try these exercises to get as much information from your users as possible:
- Send multiple-choice questionnaires to everyone who might need video meetings
- Interview key stakeholders from each department in a one-to-one setting
- Run workshops to help users bounce ideas off each other
- Observe current behavior by sitting in on meetings
- Track existing usage of calling and video tools
- Identify power users to take part in trials and spread good news about your selected video conferencing tool
- Create a focus group to collate feedback when testing video conferencing solutions
We understand that the process of buying a new video teleconference platform for a large business isn’t a simple one. With RingCentral, you can enjoy one intuitive platform for voice, video meetings, and team messaging for better collaboration.
Rather than using (and paying for) lots of standalone apps, you can access must-have digital tools through a single, easy-to-use platform.