As our communication options continue to expand, gathering together in the same room to have a meeting is becoming increasingly unnecessary. A variety of online options are now available to join conference rooms across the street and around the world. Here are some of the most popular options for video conferencing today.
We’ll start with this one because it’s free. This is a great way to casually bring the gang together and still have access to a lot of great features. Hangouts, part of Google’s social platform Google+, is integrated with Google Docs, SketchUp and YouTube to make it easier to share content as well as screen sharing. Lifehacker has an enthusiastic write up and video test drive here.
Skype offers a variety of business accounts to fit your needs for long-distance calls, instant messaging, document sharing, call forwarding, voicemail, and group video chats. While Skype can’t entirely replace your phone system (It doesn’t allow for emergency calls.), it comes pretty close. A personal account for Skype-to-Skype chats is free, but there are fees (and added features) to use it for business.
GoToMeeting is more focused on meetings and webinars. They offer a lot of collaboration tools including desktop sharing and drawing tools. For larger groups and important client meetings, GoToMeeting might be a better choice for you. Like Skype, GoToMeeting offers a variety of subscription options to meet your business’ needs. I used GoToMeeting for the first time this week and thought it was easy to access and seemed to have better video quality than some of my recent Skype experiences.
Using video chat can be a great way to save time and travel costs without sacrificing the face-to-face experience. Have you had any experiences with these products? What’s your choice for video conferencing?