Virtual meetings and conferences have now become part of the business culture in a way we could not have imagined. The virtual meeting has become an intrinsic part of the business landscape. Business culture has been permanently affected by stay-at-home orders.
Corporations, startups, and sole proprietors have adapted and adjusted the way their business is done. People have learned to interact and collaborate in completely new ways, whether it be small team meetings, a nationwide trade-show, or a global conference. Virtual meetings are here to stay.
People might be missing having face to face meetings, and personal contact, but the advantages of virtual meetings have become obvious. For example, without physical commutes, there is a marked decrease in carbon emissions for the planet. Individuals also enjoy the time efficiency that they can achieve.
Spending days or hours commuting to in-person meetings or conferences is inefficient.
Virtual meetings also have the advantage of potentially unlimited venue capacity. This means that an event with lower than expected ticket sales does not result in a half-empty hall. It also means that ticketed events can achieve lower costs and higher revenues, as they are not limited by a physical capacity. Imagine hosting a live conference in a venue that could allow for a last-minute increase in attendance of 100 fold.
There are plenty of virtual meeting platforms. Selecting the right one for your company will depend on several factors and your company’s goals. Some platforms are tailored towards larger audiences and institutions. Others are adapted to small teams or even person-to-person meetings.
We’ll get to those in a bit. But first, some basic info for those who are unfamiliar with virtual meeting platforms.
What Is A Virtual Meeting Platform?
Virtual meetings, whilst growing in popularity, are not new. They have been around for over 20 years. Virtual meetings and software allow people to gather together. They can collaborate while being in different physical locations. Most of these applications include some form of video conferencing. Features like chat rooms or screen sharing are often included. Vast improvements have been made in these tools that make them simple to use and easy to connect and join.
Since the start of the pandemic, virtual meetings have become a mainstay of business, education, and even socializing. These virtual meeting platforms and software are likely to stay.
They might still be able to meet face to face because some business is best addressed with a personal meeting. The advances and accessibility of this software mean we can continue to meet and safely do business. As virtual meetings become more common, the software becomes more intuitive and easier to use.
This list will help you ascertain the best platform or software for your business needs and review some of the most popular video conferencing providers. Look for features that will meet your company’s goals and help your team collaborate efficiently. The options available appeal to companies with a small team or a global workforce.
Top 5 Virtual Meeting Platforms and Software
Timezy is an all-in-one solution for small and medium businesses to automate the scheduling of events. It is versatile and flexible for individual business needs.
Timezy prides itself on offering products and features that meet the needs of individual entrepreneurs or enterprise companies. They’ve been around for over 6 years, and continue to impress users with practical and effective features. They’ve been recognized by a variety of organizations and receive an excellent rating from their users.
Timezy can be used for scheduling for individual persons. This leads to higher customer satisfaction and comprehensive analysis. This includes individual sessions and appointments and staff. Track special days, vacation days, and days off for your staff. Eliminate confusion, missed bookings, and missed shifts. Users praise the customer support and accessible features.
Timezy features include:
- Options for instant payment & booking for events
- Automated reminders for no-shows
- Real-time Performance Measurements
- Multiple Location Event Management
The Timezy software is also highly effective for larger meetings and events. Seamless scheduling helps these events run smoothly. Timezy makes conference attendance easier for all attendees. Online booking and digital tickets are helpful features. It simplifies virtual event organization. The software manages scheduling, booking, capacity, and attendance.
It also manages educational, consulting, and coaching sessions. You can improve efficiency with features that include tracking attendees. The combined features make Timezy a comprehensive scheduling and hosting tool.
Zoom is a well-known platform. While limited in features it is popular for its simplicity and easy setup. Attendees can join meetings without downloading the app or starting an account. Zoom makes it easy to invite anyone to attend a meeting. Once users have an invitation, they can instantly join a virtual room and visit face to face.
Meetings of up to 100 users are free to registered users. These events have a 40-minute time limit. Larger events can be hosted and additional features added for users with paid subscriptions. Fun features like breakout rooms can help make virtual team building activities fun. Zoom includes a chat feature that allows attendees to message each other or the whole group.
- Free sessions up to 40 minutes and 100 users
- Breakout Rooms
Google Meet used to be known as Google Hangouts. As the name change suggests the platform has been refocused and re-engineered with a view to business use rather than social use. The changes include an increase in the number of users and attendees and faster interfacing. This web-based platform requires no software download. The re-engineering included enhanced security features.
- No software download
- Dedicated dial-in number
- Enhanced security
ClickMeeting is designed for interactive use. Features like mouse sharing allow instructors and teachers to interact with participants. These types of features allow a virtual event to have a similar interaction to a live event or teaching session.
Other features like questions and answer sessions or live polling, keep the audience engaged. This browser-based platform also means there is no software to download. ClickMeeting includes options for live and pre-recorded webinars. Analytic and marketing integration also makes this a desirable platform for some business models.
- No software download
- Live and pre-recorded webinar options
- Interactive features like mouse-share
- Integrates with analytics
- Integrates with marketing tools
- Questions and answer sessions
- Live polling
Business users praise the software integration, which includes analytics and social media platforms.
Skype is one of the oldest video conference apps available, so its brand and format are familiar to many people. It is easy to use and allows users to connect one-on-one or in a group. Skype also allows global telephone calls with no long-distance dialing costs. However, there are some issues with sound and video quality, and some users report buffering delays.
- Up to 250 participants
- Global telephone calls
Skype is bundled with Microsoft Office and is one of the virtual meeting products people are most familiar with. Upgrades enable users to host up to 250 participants and enjoy features like the mailbox, file storage, and tech support.
Other Virtual Meeting Platforms
RingCentral Meetings brands itself as a way to meet, share, and collaborate with anyone, anywhere, in real-time. Its features include a larger meeting capability of up to 500 participants. Options include the ability to schedule meetings from directly in Outlook.
Ring is great for instructional meetings and conferences because of its screen share and annotation tools. It integrates with Microsoft Outlook. Chat and breakout session features make for an enjoyable social experience. Hosts benefit from dashboard features and real-time analytic reports.
- Annotation Tools
- Integrate with Microsoft Outlook
- Chat with individuals or the group.
- Breakout sessions
- Dashboards and real-time reports
- Additional Webinar add-on allows broadcast up to 10,000
Ring Central has been available for some time as a VOIP (Voice Over Internet Phone) provider. Its services are aimed at medium to larger companies. It offers a wide range of plans featuring different features to meet your video conferencing needs.
Cisco’s Webex was built for enterprise business use, thus it includes tight security features that some users want. The free plan allows for meetings of up to 100 people with no time limit.
- No time limits
- 100 attendee capacity
- Host mute and unmute controls
- Video share
This platform is continuously making advancements and improvements in the technology it uses. As one of the less familiar platforms, ezTalks has fewer users familiar with the features. This might lead to a slight learning curve but most of the features are relatively easy to use. The engineers of EZ Talks are constantly making improvements and advancements in the software. It is compatible with most operating systems and includes an easy to use interface. The medical industry finds this to be a good platform for healthcare settings. Unlimited recordings are another feature that is desirable for some business settings.
- Android and iOS compatible
- Easy-to-use interface
- Ideal for healthcare settings
- Up to 100 attendees
- 40 minute free sessions
- Unlimited conference recordings
This virtual meeting software is designed primarily for educational purposes. Features are geared toward a virtual classroom setting. The classroom-centric features make BigBlueButton ideal. Users like it for business teaching and training scenarios.
The setup is more complicated than many other platforms but it is free and known for providing excellent performance. It offers all of the standard features like chat and breakout rooms. Some users find the lesson review feature to be very useful.
Key features include:
- Video share
- Lesson review
- Presenter Whiteboard
- Polling and breakout rooms
This web-based platform offers some convenience because there isn’t any software to download. It’s also possible to schedule meetings in advance and sync these schedules with calendar apps and scheduling software. A variety of plans are available for purchase and these include specialized features. The drawbacks of U Meeting are that it does not offer a record meeting feature or a VOIP dial-in feature. As a web-based platform, there is no software download required.
- End to end encryption upgrades available
- No software downloads
- Advanced meeting scheduling
- Calendar sync
Aventri’s Virtual & Hybrid Event Solution
Aventri is built to offer both virtual and hybrid conference and virtual event features. Some of the unique features help make last-minute changes from live events to virtual events and still be a success. It is built to manage events as small as a 5 person meeting or as large as a 5000 person multi-meeting conference. Aventri offers an enormous list of options. Some of the unique features like event promotion options are ideal for revenue-generating events.
- User training videos
- 24/7 customer support
- Integration with sales applications
- Up to 5000 attendees
- Live streaming sessions
- Online event lobby
- Event promotion
StarLeaf prides itself on its commitment to security. It touts that the product was created with security as its base and not as an afterthought. This platform provides lots of flexible options for a variety of needs. It contains the standard features of screen share and video conferencing. It also offers integration with other popular software applications, like Slack.
- Slack & Skype Integration
- Android, iOS, and Windows compatible
- Lower cost than video infrastructure
On24 is focused on audience engagement. Its features are designed to optimize audience engagement and gauge that in real-time. This allows presenters to adjust and adapt presentations for peak audience engagement. In addition to the standard features, it offers webinar recording and tools for presenters. Presenters learn to use the tools to keep the audience alert and engaged.
- Interactive capability
- Audience behavior gauges
- Webinar Recording
- Real-time audience engagement
As a subfeature of Microsoft 365, within one application, Microsoft Teams enables users to schedule video or audio meetings. These meetings can be scheduled with a single individual or with an entire team. Large webinars and meetings can host up to 10,000 participants. A free service with account setup and software download. It offers all of the standard features, but with a focus on keeping participants engaged. This includes prominent chat feeds while a presenter covers a topic.
- Up to 10,000 participants
- Screen sharing
- Call recording
- Live captions
- Chat rooms
Big Marker offers video conferencing and virtual meeting hosting. It combines this with other marketing services. These include webinars, live streams, and promotional campaigns. BigMarker doesn’t offer any free subscription. Standard pricing ranges from $79 – $299 per month.
Features include large events and simultaneous live streams. It offers space for up to 1000 attendees and multiple live streams. It is highly compatible with most browsers and devices. It is fully customizable and integrates with other applications.
- Up to 1000 attendees
- Up to 9 simultaneous live streams
- Compatible with multiple browsers
- Compatible with multiple devices
- Fully customizable
- Multiple App integration
Slack is primarily a business collaboration tool and is used by many industries. It now offers video conferencing capabilities as well. Slack is available only for desktop platforms. So it is slightly limited in its use for conferencing and webinar use. Slack is not fully optimized for Android use.
While these limitations are a problem for some users, others find its collaboration tools outweigh these drawbacks. It is compatible with multiple operating systems. It integrates with other applications. It also includes the basic features of screen share and presentation streaming.
- Integration with other slack features
- Mac, Windows & Linux compatibility.
- Stream presentations
This platform is made for video conferencing systems and the app integrates well. Wireless screen sharing is a useful feature. It allows for fun team building activities and entertainment applications. It is free for up to 25 attendees and offers HD video sharing.
Lifesize lacks many of the business integration features that the other platforms offer, but some team leaders prefer the social interfacing options. This platform is more tailored towards fun and team-building than efficiency and collaboration.
- Video conferencing
- Easy to use
- Wireless screen sharing
- Free meetings for up to 25 attendees
- HD video
Lifesize offers a secure experience in an easy to use package. It is easy to set up the meetings and invite others via video link. The high definition video adds to a real-life feel in this video conferencing platform.
Designed for teaching and training, GoBrunch has no time limit, even in the free version. Teachers, instructors, and experts enjoy the unlimited webinars feature. Users can create their own virtual classrooms, share screens, and videos. This web-based platform doesn’t require any software download.
- No Time Limit
- Video conferencing
- Create and record webinars
- Unlimited webinars
- No software download
Join.me ticks all of the boxes of basic video conferencing software, with standard features like screen sharing and email invites. It offers a limited free introduction to try it out. After users have tried it they can choose from two paid plan options.
- Limited free option
- 2 paid plan options
- Email invitations
- URL invitations
- Dial-in audio conferencing
- Screen share
- Video conferencing recording
Users like the ease of use and intuitive design of this video conferencing software.
Workcast is designed for hosting virtual trade shows and other large-scale virtual events thus is capable of a large number of participants. It contains features like multiple live stream video feeds and PowerPoint integration.
To give your virtual trade show an impression of real-life, it allows participants to do virtual promotional booth tours. Trade show vendors can host chats with attendees and they browse through the booths. This allows for interactive engagement with participants.
- No software download
- Up to 5,000 participants
- Live option
- Pre-recorded options
- Up to 3 simultaneous video feeds
- Integrates with powerPoint
Online and email registration are additional features. This makes WorkCast a true virtual conference software platform. Audience participation and collaboration results in a higher level of participant engagement.
FreeConferenceCall has been around for over 20 years. The most expensive of the paid plans is just $15 per month. They offer mobile and desktop versions. This aptly-named tool provides free online teleconferencing for up to 25 people. Calls can be recorded, shared, or saved to be heard later on-demand. Free international service is offered to 58 countries, making hosting a global conference call a breeze.
The company claims that it has hosted a billion calls. The meeting wall can be customized with a headshot or logo. Apps for mobile Apple and Android devices are available.
- Video conferencing
- Audio Conferencing
- Virtual Phone Numbers
Apache Open Meetings is a video conferencing option that allows developers to customize the platform. Each business can customize and give it a branded feel. This app allows for true team collaboration by allowing a collective document editing feature. Instant messaging also helps your team stay connected. Options include multiple whiteboards to encourage creativity It will help your team to be engaged in your virtual conferences and meetings.
- Free video conference hosting
- Instant messaging
- Fully customizable
- Screen sharing
- Audio recording
- Multiple whiteboard options
- Collaboration features
Pexip is designed for large global organizations. Industries that find Pexip a powerful tool include government, healthcare, financial and educational institutions. It is not particularly intuitive and set-up is somewhat complicated, but large organizations may find this is the video conferencing software that best meets their demands. It doesn’t require any software download or plugins. Pexip was designed with a global audience and large organizations in mind.
- Multiple devices
- No downloads
- No plugins
- Developed for a global workforce
- Video conferencing
Ending thoughts on virtual meeting platforms
Virtual meeting platforms have been available for years. Due to the pandemic, virtual meeting platforms went from being expensive software to becoming a part of the daily life of people all over the world. Virtual conferences were used mainly by large and global corporations, but now many people attend virtual meetings on a daily or weekly basis. Many of these people had never heard of these options before the current global pandemic emerged.
The pandemic will eventually end, but virtual meetings and conferences are likely to stay. The convenience and time and money-saving features they offer are undeniable. The general public has become comfortable and familiar with these platforms. The result is their use has become a permanent part of modern business.
This review has helped to identify key features to help you reap the full benefits of these virtual meeting platforms. Teleconferencing and virtual meetings have been around for over 20 years. The number of features continues to increase. Software developers continue to create tools to meet the needs of business. Creative teams can collaborate like never before.
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