You don’t have to be a remote worker to have long-distance meetings. Almost every position requires digital conversations with others in this global economy. Think back to your meetings this week... How many of those meetings were over the phone or video conferences?
There is a myriad of tools out there for your long-distance meetings. There is no one tool that is a fit for all, so we've selected different tools that can help you and your business bridge the gap when your meetings can’t be in person.
Scenario: Not Too Many Conference Calls | Small Business | Free Tool
UberConference is a great service if you’re just getting off the ground. Members of the call can access the phone conference by computer or by phone, and other users can quickly join into the call. The free version allows you to host up to 10 participants at one time, so this is not a tool for hosting large video conferences. Overall, UberConference is a robust conferencing tool that has excellent privacy and is scalable.
“UberConference provides its users with a set of high-quality tools and features that they can use when conducting conferences such as an unlimited number of outbound calls, international calling, calling with their own numbers, and HD audio. Because of this platform, sharing and annotation of documents are also made easy with Box, Google Drive, Evernote, and DropBox.” (source)
Scenario: Lots Of Video Conferences | Small Business | Free Tool
Skype is a great tool for video and international calling. A major benefit of Skype is that many business owners already have an account or are familiar with the service. Skype is reliable and backed by Microsoft and users can “Record meetings, share your screen, and annotate PowerPoint for real-time collaboration” (source)
The only downside is that it is free to call Skype to Skype, but you may incur a charge if calling out to a phone number.
Scenario: Video And Conference Calls | Widely Used | Free Tool
Google Hangouts is an easy, go-to tool if you don’t want to mess with the other options. Over 1 billion people have a Google account so the likelihood of you communicating virtually with another Google user is very high. People can join the Google Hangout directly through the Google calendar link so no confusion with plug-ins or downloads. There is also a dial-in number for every meeting, which is helpful for people on the go.
Scenario: Higher Volume Calls And Video Conference Calls | Corporate / International Calls | Paid Tool
Zoom is very popular in the startup community as it is easy to use and you can send an access link out via email. Zoom allows for screen sharing, annotating, and HD video. There is a free version of zoom; however, it limits conference calls to 40 minutes, which is either a pro or con for your business depending on how concise your meetings are.
GoToMeeting is not a free tool and is best used for international businesses with a higher volume of international digital meetings. GoToMeeting is the next step up from Skype and Google Hangouts for your business as it grows. Users love this tool because of the user-friendly aspects, security (users have to enter a pin to join), uptime, and reliable technical support.
Join.me is a newer tool on the scene of video and conference call services but is just as much a player in the industry as all of the others listed. This is not a free tool, but includes standout features like a whiteboarding tool that allows users to mark up a shared screen. The presenter does have to install software, but it is still very easy to use.
Long Distance Meeting Tips
When you can’t meet in person… turn on your camera! Forbes reported that video conferencing enables superior communication compared to audio-only conferencing along with many other benefits. As virtual meetings become more prevalent and relevant, remember these tips to set you up for success:
- Attach the meeting agenda to the calendar event
- Have your meeting in a quiet place
- If it’s a group call, mute your line when you’re not talking
- Always discuss next steps before getting off the call
- Keep eye contact with the camera and dress appropriately if it’s a video call
- Avoid interrupting fellow callers
- When on camera, avoid going to other webpages or scrolling your phone, as it’s easy for others on the call to see that you’re distracted
- If you have a cat in the room, make sure they don’t jump up and block the screen since many cats love the attention and find the keyboard a cozy place for a nap. (I have personally seen this happen)
- Be just as professional and courteous as you would be in an in-person meeting
- Follow up the meeting with an email summarizing the call
If you have the opportunity to meet in person, do it!
Booking an in-person meeting? You can easily book a meeting room at one of our locations in New York and Chicago.
Did we miss a tool that you love? Do you have another tip to add to virtual meeting etiquette? Let us know!