Whether remote work is here to stay or not, one thing for sure is that online meeting and conferencing tools will be here forever. Not only for work, but also to connect with family and friends on a slow Saturday night or during special events. In fact, because of travel restrictions, I attended a friend’s wedding a thousand kilometers away through Zoom. Cool, right?
I compiled 10 online conferencing platforms for you. While the end goal is the same, which is to eliminate the distance and connect people online, there are some small differences in their features and target audience which might play a lot in your decision making.
6 Tips Towards Not Having Pointless Meetings
Whether it was ad hoc or a scheduled one, most meetings don't seem to help at all when... Read more
1. Zoho Meeting
Zoho Meeting is surprisingly a good entry, and I purposefully saved it for last. I’m surprised that whenever people look for a tool to use for online meetings, it’s always Zoom, but Zoho Meeting is a great contender.
For individuals like freelancers, the free plan is already more than you’ll ever need. But for businesses with a lot of moving parts, their suite of tools will play well with you. For example, Zoho CRM and Zoho Meeting are well-integrated, file sharing, group messaging, application sharing, and a lot of third-party integrations.
- Has an entire suite of tools that an online business can leverage with their built-in integration
- It’s quite cheap – at $12 per month, you can use its full features and can accommodate 100 participants – if you are a business owner, your employees can even have their own plus ones
- Has Polls, QnA, and Raise Hand features
- You can run it as a Webinar tool or as a regular online meeting tool – webinar registration is one of its key features as well
- The free paln is only limited to 3 participants
- If you’re going to use it for a webinar, form customization might prove to be a problem at times
- Recordings can be downloaded by participants and cannot be restricted for download
Airmeet is an online meeting tool that is used by a lot of people to host virtual events. It’s easy to set up and the support is spectacular, in case you’ll ever need it. Unlike other tools, Airmeet isn’t really geared towards people who just want to hang out virtually – it’s more for events with a specific goal in mind.
The free plan can host up to 100 people, and all plans have a social lounge where people can spend some time socializing while the event is yet to start. Other features include polls, QnA, and surprisingly enough, you can even automate some tasks using its Zapier integration.
- Great tool for actual events, concerts, and the like, especially if you are charging for tickets
- Audience engagement is higher compared to other tools because of its social lounge feature
- No need to download anything, it works on any browser
- Not for businesses, startups, or teams
- For the pro plan, recorded events aren’t saved locally, but on their servers and there appears to be a couple hours of delay before you can get access to it
3. Google Meet
Call me a Google fanboy but Google Meet is actually my favorite conferencing tool. It’s very easy to use, just open it on your browser and you are ready to go. No need to install anything. You can also join meetings using your phone or by dialing in. It has all the features you need to conduct an online meeting or class, and you can even record your meeting and it will be saved on your Google Drive.
Although it’s called Google Meet, you don’t need a Google account to join a meeting. But if you want to create your own meeting, you’ll need a Gmail account. Still, it’s free and pretty much all that you’ll ever need on the go. Also, surprisingly, it has a Speech to Text feature – where you can speak and subtitles will pop up. While it’s not perfect, it’s still good!
- Lightweight, works on most operating systems and browsers
- Simple UI – what you see is what you get
- Pro account enables recording of meetings ($6/mo)
- Chat box
- No time limit
- Speech to text
- No fancy features like adjusting the lighting, filters, custom backgrounds, etc.
- Lighting is not as good as Zoom
Microsoft Teams is actually a set of tools by Microsoft for businesses with remote teams. It has a series of tools for project management, communication, and the like. You can literally just stay in one place, write your documents, create tasks, keep track of activities, and create meetings, then just jump on a conference call with up to 100 participants for the free plan.
- The free plan can hold up to 100 participants
- Compared to Zoom’s 40 minutes duration, Microsoft Teams offers up to 60 minutes
- Quality of calls are top-notch HD
- All-in-one solution for remote teams
- Since it’s an all-in-one solution for teams, it can get a little confusing at times
- It’s geared towards teams, and not just one-time meetings
Everyone knows Skype. It’s an easy to use communication tool that is used not just by casual users, but also for business-related activities. A lot of support teams also use it to take care of their customers’ needs, in fact. But one thing where Skype shines the most is its online conferencing feature that can handle up to 100 participants.
- Free plan can host up to 100 participants
- It’s from a well-trusted company (subjectively)
- Has a recording function
- For privacy, you can blur your background while on a video call
- Compared to other tools, the video seems to eat more data
- The application itself can be bulky at times, and for older phone models, lag is often observed – for reference, my Android phone with only 4GB of RAM runs Skype super slowly
For online meetings, Facebook Messenger Rooms probably isn’t something you were expecting, but it’s here, and it just slithered into Facebook without any much buzz. Surprisingly enough, it can hold up to 50 people, and you can set a schedule for it, define who can join, and the like.
- It’s free
- Quality is really good
- No time limit
- It’s just inside Facebook so if your friends or team members are there too, you can invite each other easily
- Up to 50 participants
- It’s Facebook, so privacy will always be a concern
- No advanced features, but this can also be a pro since it’s very straightforward
GoToMeeting has been around for several years, even before Zoom and Google Meet have made the rounds on the internet. It’s the sibling of GoToWebinar, the go-to web conferencing tool used by brands and individuals whenever they want to host a webinar. While the webinar tool is a little bit on the pricey end, GoToMeeting is quite cheap at $12/month and can host up to 150 guests.
- Has high capacity of guests, even for the starter plan
- From an industry trusted brand
- Security is top notch
- Has a toll-free number in which international participants can dial in to join the meeting for free
- No free plan
- Need to install an application
If you are an iOS or Mac user, FaceTime is an easy solution for your conferencing needs. Either as a one on one audio or video call with your colleagues, family, or friends. It’s built-in on every iOS and Mac device so you won’t have to set up anything. You’ll just need their phone number or iCloud email address to get started.
- It’s 100% free
- Can support up to 32 participants
- Natively supported by iOS devices and Mac
- High quality video (supposing you have a good internet connection)
- Only available to iOS and Mac users
- Doesn’t natively allow recording of sessions
- No chatbox
- It’s just for video calls, no other fancy gimmick
9. Cisco Webex
Cisco Webex is a one of a kind tool from a really reputable company. I’m going to lay its best feature down here now: while it’s simple like the rest of the items in this list, and comparable to Zoom’s main features (like file sharing, chat, phone, audio, and video conferencing), it is also integrated with an AI that can assist in meetings – an AI that acts like a virtual assistant that takes notes, set reminders, and much more much like a regular assistant…using voice commands while you are on the meeting.
- Integrated with AI that acts like a virtual assistant
- Top quality meetings because it’s a product from a highly reputable networking and communications company
- Security is top-notch too since Cisco directly deals with Cybersecurity for businesses
- Better meeting administration options
- File sharing can go up to to 2GB per file
- Noise cancellation could still be improved
- HD conferencing could use an upgrade with the number of participants, which is a low 6
Zoom is probably the most popular online meeting tool right now, owing its popularity to the pandemic when almost everyone was forced to work at home. It made the news everywhere, the good and the bad. Even schools, businesses, friends, and families use it to hop on a group call instantly.
That said, Zoom is a quick and easy conferencing tool to use if you are looking for something fast and free. It has a lot of features that even free users can use, such as changing your background (which is cool), screen sharing, filter to touch up your appearance, and the like.
- Has personal meeting rooms
- The free plan is enough for most users at 40 minutes limit per session
- Lighting adjustment for dark rooms
- Screen sharing
- File sharing
- Calendar integration
- And several other integrations
- You can record meetings
- The free option is limited to only 40 minutes. After which, you will have to create a new meeting.
- Security concerns – a thing of the past or still ongoing? No online meeting tool is perfect, and every other tool has their security flaws, but Zoom has had their fair share of security and privacy issues last year, but they have been addressed now (as far as we know).
I hope this compilation has helped you decide which tool is best for your needs. Personally, I really like Google Meet, but for work-related meetings I (and bosses) mostly use Zoom. Our needs are simple, so we can settle for any of these, honestly. But just between you and I, if Google Meet can do the fancy backgrounds that Zoom has, it’d be perfect!