With more employees working from home and more clients spread throughout the world, web conferencing software has become widely popular. These platforms provide an easy way to run online meetings over the internet, where participants need only a device with video and audio capabilities and an internet connection. Besides creating the ability to have face-to-face meetings, the best web conferencing software comes with helpful tools that enable users to have efficient and collaborative sessions with one another. Those tools are also the perfect way to showcase a product to a client or provide seamless, professional customer support.
Best Web Conferencing Software of 2021
|Editor's Choice 2021|
GoToMeeting is perhaps the best-known web conferencing software on the market, and for good reason: it's a highly customizable web conferencing platform, where administrators can tweak all aspects of the system from their control center. GoToMeeting is also packed with features that improve meeting collaboration and engagement. Besides supporting over 20 simultaneous shared webcams, it enables participants to share their desktop screens, request remote control, highlight ideas through a whiteboard, and slide share presentations, among many other features. While there isn't a free plan, customers can use forever, there's a 14-day free trial. And even though GoToMeeting is a bit limited regarding the number of participants and the maximum time for each meeting, it's good enough to justify testing the platform for yourself.
BlueJeans is a comprehensive web conferencing software product that provides all the necessary tools to run productive online meetings and more. One example of its advanced features is the option to break the main session into small groups, allocate them to separate rooms, and aggregate them later when required. The software also has the ability to record only the meeting's highlights instead of the full session. BlueJeans supports up to 100 participants and secures all web conferences with 256-bit encryption. It's possible to get this web conferencing software for as low as $9.99 per month, and there's a 7-day free trial that users can take advantage of to test the product.
3. Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams is a feature-filled application that works equally well both as a web conferencing solution and as a complete work hub. Teams allows for up to 5,000 members, with everyone able to communicate through online calls, chats, and web conferences. Hosts can set up high-quality, reliable conferences of up to 250 attendees with four active webcams at one time. Meetings can then be recorded and shared via Microsoft Stream. What really makes Teams stand out is the third-party integrations that give you an almost endless list of extra functions. Integrations even exist with other web conferencing services that allow for cross-platform conferencing. There is a free version of Teams available to try with some limitations, but you can get the software as part of the Microsoft 365 Business package alongside other Microsoft applications.
Web Conferencing Software Features to Look For
While the most important features change depending on the company's needs, some should always be part of the web conferencing software provider's package.
You should be able to run conferences as seamlessly over the internet as in person. For this reason, it's essential that web conferencing software offers the necessary tools to enable participant collaboration, such as screen and presentation sharing, remote control, and a whiteboard.
Advanced web conferencing software comes with helpful features to allow recording the sessions for later playback. Some web conferencing platforms also come with the ability to record only a meeting’s highlights and create automatic transcripts, saving precious time for everyone attending the web conference.
Cyber crime is on the rise, and web conferencing platforms are one of the top targets. Consequently, it's essential to find a provider that has in place all the necessary security measures to safeguard your web conferences.
Third-Party Software Integration
It's no secret that employees struggle with the number of platforms they use on a daily basis. Finding a solution that integrates with the services already in place is vital to enable users to use the software seamlessly from the get-go. One example of this is the ability to schedule and start meetings with one click from the user's email or live chat.
How to Use Web Conferencing Software
In its essence, web conferencing is just a communications channel that enables people to speak and see each other no matter what the distance is between them. Therefore, the sky’s the limit when it comes to the purposes web conferencing software can be used for.
Typically, organizations use web conferencing software for two main reasons: to enable employees to run meetings with each other regardless of whether they're working from home or in different hubs, and to speak with customers without leaving the office.
For internal communication, web conferencing software enables colleagues to have meetings just as they would in person. This means that participants can take advantage of web conferencing platforms to make presentations, work together on a file, or have discussions regarding an important topic. For external communication, web conferencing software is the perfect way to demo the company's services, provide one-on-one training, discuss contract terms, and more.
It's also important to note that web conferencing software can (and should) be usable from all types of devices. While the most common way to run meetings is through a computer, there's also the possibility of joining online meetings through a mobile or a conference phone. Especially when dealing with customers, it's also essential to find web conferencing software that can be used without the need for installation, offering the option to join meetings through a browser instead.
Free vs Paid Web Conferencing Software
Most web conferencing software providers offer the use of their services completely for free. Although a bit limited, these free plans still enable users to run meetings over the internet and take advantage of basic features such as screen sharing, live chat, and HD video. Web conferencing software providers usually limit the number of participants and time per session instead. For example, paid plans offer the possibility of having meetings running 24/7, while the free plan restricts them to around half an hour. Moreover, advanced functions such as third-party integrations, the admin dashboard, and meeting recording can only be found in the paid subscriptions.
How to Choose the Best Web Conferencing Software for Your Business
There are plenty of web conferencing platforms out there. While this is great news since it means that there's a perfect solution for everyone's needs, it also means that finding the right one can be hard work. Here's how to do it the most effective way:
1. Make a List of the Most Important Features
Preparation is key for everything in life, including finding the best web conferencing for you or your company. It's essential to sit down and understand which main features you're looking for beforehand. A good exercise is to think about the reasons you want to use such a platform.
Going for the top providers may be enticing. However, there are many hidden gems out there that may offer all the necessary features for a lower price. We recommend doing thorough research by reading reviews and comparisons to find the most appealing provider on the market.
3. Test the Product and Get the Best Deal
Once you’ve narrowed down your options, it's time to test the services for yourself. Most companies offer either a limited free plan or a free trial so you can see if the software works as well as expected.
When you’ve chosen the platform, always look for ways to get a discount since web conferencing software providers usually offer a way to save money.