Modern communication tools enable us to work from home, touch base with traveling colleagues, connect with clients and establish new headquarters for growing businesses. But even with the flexibility these tools provide, it’s not uncommon for leaders and employees – even at small, tight-knit businesses – to feel scattered and disconnected amid a lack of on-site interactions and meetings. Choosing the right web conferencing software can help prevent your teammates from feeling like ships passing in the night.
With the wrong web conferencing software, meetings can feel like a hassle. An unintuitive user interface can cause some users to have difficulty contributing, or feel their hands are tied when attempting to share visual presentations or tune in from afar. Thankfully, there are intuitive tools out there – that also happen to be free!
Despite the unbeatable price tag, it’s a good idea to do your research before you implement a free online meeting tool. You don’t want to waste time acclimating your employees or coworkers to a product only to have to switch things up when it doesn’t suit your needs.
To get you started, we’re discussing the five most popular free web conferencing tools on TrustRadius – and what users say about them in our in-depth, verified user reviews.
If you’re looking for a broad range of web conferencing and webinar functionalities, check out reviews of Zoom on TrustRadius. Zoom is the most widely researched of these tools on TrustRadius. Zoom lends itself to collaboration, offering screen sharing and the ability to record and share meetings for people unable to attend. A number of reviewers agree the the UI is intuitive, which is important for adoption and participation. Individuals can meet for private discussions in the midst of a conference and then rejoin the group when ready. The chat box is typically regarded as convenient and easy to use, and users often extol the clarity of connection. If Zoom is a good fit for your company, you always have the option of upgrading your package to Pro, Business, or Enterprise. One drawback is that some users seem to experience issues with audio clarity on occasion.
If you’re pondering the virtues of Skype vs Zoom, consider that among reviews on TrustRadius, Zoom is rated higher for audience collaboration features, such as audience polling and Q&A, which Skype does not provide in its free version.
Skype is one of the most recognizable web conferencing tools, with a free version suited well for small businesses with less than 20 employees. The TrustRadius scorecard marks for performance and capability show that it’s a tool widely trusted for its video and audio quality as well as security. Upgrading to Skype for Business allows for meetings with up to 250 users and is deeply integrated with Microsoft Outlook. Users have reported a few difficulties with screen sharing in the free version, but there’s a pretty clear consensus that Skype makes video calls and instant messaging easy for small businesses with a dispersed workforce.
If most or all members of your team are already familiar with other Google applications like Gmail, Google Drive, etc., Google Hangouts may be the simplest video chatting service to implement. According to this TrustRadius review, it’s an easy tool for novices to use. It integrates with Google Docs and Sheets so sharing documents is fast and straightforward. Each Hangouts session can host up to 10 people on a video call, and you can sync your chats from device to device, across Android, IOS, and the web.
A few reviewers have noted the drawback that joining a session might be slightly more complicated for users who are not already Google+ members. And again, since most Google users share plenty of personal information already across the Google suites and apps, Hangouts is typically better for companies who prefer more casual and effortless communication styles.
Join.me is aptly named, as it makes joining remote meetings easy with personalized meeting URLs and simple new user setup with no large plug-in installation. It also features one-click screen sharing, file transfer, and 10 whiteboards for IOS users.
The free version allows for three meeting participants, but upgrading to Pro or Business versions will allow you up to 50 and 250 participants respectively. Upgrading will also get you recording capabilities, a meeting scheduler, background customization, unlimited audio with international conference lines, and many other features. The free version of Join.me might be a fitting alternative to Google Hangouts if you have a small team of non-Google users, but some reviewers find the UI a bit laggy despite consider it easy to use.
Reviews of AnyMeeting on TrustRadius praise the software’s straightforward features; it boasts a simple sign-up process and user-friendly interface. It provides HD video and phone conferencing as well as screen sharing, video sharing, and recording. According to this user review, it’s easy to promote people to presenters and demote them as needed. It’s very much a business-oriented tool; instead of attaching to a personal account the way Google Hangouts corresponds with Google+, it supports images and bios from Linkedin profiles, helping to prevent accidental sharing of personal information. You can take meeting notes as well as upload documents to Anymeeting.com for simple sharing. You can also promote your event on Facebook and Twitter through Anymeeting, and there’s connectivity to leading email marketing and CRM platforms.
From gathering a tight-knit group for brainstorming to hosting training for new employees, these free web conferencing tools can help your growing company span the distance.
What web conferencing tools do you find helpful for your small business?