Web conferencing is an essential tool for countless businesses. Phone calls are useful for one-on-one conversations, but when it comes to gathering multiple people, standard conference calls don’t cut it. They lack the personal connection that comes with being able to look at your colleague’s faces.
Video conferencing solutions, however, are almost like having people in the room with you. While there are plenty of platforms available that support web conferencing, not all are specifically designed for it. You want a trustworthy service that can not only support virtual conversations but take them to the next level-and maybe even make them preferable to in-person meetings. CIO says:
“Your enterprise IT team must balance between two initiatives now-progressing the enterprise towards innovation and maintaining operational excellence. Your web-conferencing solution must constantly evolve to keep up with the changing pace of collaboration, as well as offer enterprise-class security, redundancy, and dependable audio.”
While you are shopping for the best web conference tools, here are a few things to keep in mind:
First and foremost, your conferencing platform needs to boost reliability. Nothing ruins a call like frozen video or dropped audio. Even if the service is free, you expect high-quality technology to support communication. Reliability can be difficult to gauge without testing it, so read reviews from past users and sign up for a trial if possible. Does the service include built-in system redundancy and auto-failover? Is the image clarity sharp, and can you hear everyone clearly? If the platform seems to be functioning properly, but the connection is still not strong, it might be worth looking at the internet connection. Businesses need strong internet provision to ensure their conference calls can go ahead without interruptions, so it might be worth looking at Fusion Connect’s services (see this here). That could improve the internet connection.
Look into how many people the platform can support. If your business only needs ten or fewer people online at once, you have a wider variety of options. Companies that require attendance from hundreds of people need a service that can support that many individuals. Check if the service limits the number of feeds allowed.
Not every platform offers this service, but it’s convenient to have if necessary. Operator-assisted calls entail, as the name suggests, operators, who work for the web conferencing platform itself. These individuals can act as third-party facilitators for your meeting by taking roll at the beginning, introducing participants as they speak, and otherwise moderate conversations.
What other features does the service provide? You obviously want mute buttons, but it’s also convenient to have chat and polling functions available so that you can limit the number of people speaking over each other.
The best platforms also include recording and screen sharing capabilities. The former is so that no part of the conversation is lost; if you or anyone else needs to reference something you discussed during the meeting, or if you need a reminder, you can do so at any time. Screen sharing enables users to share their desktops with one another, which is vital for sharing presentations, graphs, images, videos, and more. It will spare you the headache of trying to make everyone look at an individual participant’s whiteboard in the background.
Keep ease of use in mind, too. A friendly and self-explanatory user face will save you a lot of stress. Also, look into the mobile experience. Odds are, people will need to make video calls from phones or tablets at some point, so be sure they won’t be miserable when trying to participate.
How easily can you integrate other applications? You probably use all sorts of applications in your work, such as PowerPoint and Google Docs. It’s not practical to use a web conferencing system that cannot integrate with other software. Whatever you use should be friendly toward external services, especially email and calendar functions.
You already know that you don’t want to spend more than you need to, but pricing can be a bit trickier depending on the kind of meetings you have. Many platforms are free when only a handful of attendees join in but charge different amounts depending on the number of additional participants.
Do you discuss critical information during your conference calls? Sales updates, monthly reports, and branding developments are examples of topics you might not want people to know about. It could be disastrous if you are hacked during a conference call, so inquire into a software’s security so that you can talk safely.
Many people overlook the importance of customer support. Even if you don’t use it regularly, it’s good to know it’s available if necessary. Call the customer support line to see how you’ll be treated if you need to call them in the future; it will give you peace of mind to know that someone knowledgeable will respond quickly if something goes haywire.
All web conferencing platforms are different, to shop wisely and look for features that make sense for your business. What do you look for in video conferencing software?