Top 5 Web Conferencing Tools for Productive Meetings

. 6 min read

Online meetings have become a central part of daily operations for many businesses around the globe. The right web conferencing tools can facilitate the meeting process, making it efficient to tackle your goals. This guide will help you make an informed decision about which software to consider.

Web Conferencing Tools Are Now Indispensable

Is your organization new to web conferencing? In our COVID-19 economy, video conferencing is no longer just convenient. For many businesses in diverse sectors, it is now imperative. Stanford economist Nicholas Bloom explains:

“We see an incredible 42 percent of the U.S. labor force now working from home full-time … By sheer numbers, the U.S. is a working-from-home economy. Almost twice as many employees are working from home as at work.”

Bloom adds, “And a number of corporations are developing plans for more work-from-home options beyond the pandemic … the share of working days spent at home is expected to increase fourfold from pre-COVID levels, from 5 percent to 20 percent.”

Indeed, Global Workplace Analytics gave the following stats in March 2020:

Source: Global Workplace Analytics

Apparently, as of March 2020, 5 million US workers are working at home 50% of the time or more. So, this is the ideal time for companies to identify the online meeting tools that will help them to accomplish their goals. With that in mind, let’s explore some of the best web conferencing tools currently available.

1. Zoom

Zoom is one of the fastest-growing web conferencing tools out there. While Zoom’s growth in recent years has been rapid, its user base has expanded 30-fold in April 2020!

Features

Zoom offers compatibility for all devices and can sync with calendar systems. Features include HD video and HD audio, screen sharing, annotations, polls, reactions, a searchable history, and recording and transcripts.

In fact, you can make a full transcription of your conference call on Zoom using the program’s built-in integration with Otter.ai. This feature is fully automated in real-time. All you need to do is enable it and sync Zoom cloud recording settings.

Security

Your meetings on Zoom are protected by Secure Socket layer encryption as well as AE6 256-bit encryption.

Reception

Zoom has become one of the most popular online conferencing tools in the world. In April 2020, Zoom reported that it had 300 million daily meeting participants.

Ease of Use

One of the reasons Zoom is so popular is because this web conference software features excellent ease of use. Many users can get up and running with the intuitive platform in minutes.

Pricing

Companies in search of free web conferencing tools or a paid solution will find Zoom plans to suit them. The basic Personal Meeting plan is free and allows unlimited 1:1 meetings, 40-minute maximum group meetings, and hosting for up to 100 participants. Three additional plan tiers are available. The Enterprise plan costs $199.90 per year and allows hosting for up to 500 participants. You can upgrade to Enterprise Plus to host up to 1,000.

Pros:

  • Zoom is easy to use and scalable.
  • Automatic transcriptions are available with built-in Otter integration.

Cons:

  • Zoom has had some security issues in the past, but has taken steps to remedy them.

Best for:

  • Large and small companies looking for an intuitive platform with automated transcriptions for meetings will love Zoom.

2. Google Meet

For a streamlined no-download video conferencing solution, consider Google Meet. You are probably familiar with the instant messaging service Google Hangouts. Google Meet is  Google's more secure and advanced software designed for video calls for individuals and larger groups.

Features

Google Meet offers mobile noise filtering, breakout rooms, background blurring, a digital whiteboard, and special features for the education sector (the distance learning is booming, and so are the tools that make it easier).

Security

Google Meet Internet conforms to Engineering Task Force (IETF) security standards for Datagram Transport Layer Security (DTLS) and Secure Real-time Transport Protocol (SRTP).

Reception

Many businesses have taken to using Google Meet as a fast solution for hosting meetings on iPhone, iPad and Android devices as well as desktop and laptop computers.

Ease of Use

Google Meet is simple and straightforward, making it easy to onboard users.

Pricing

Google Meet in its most basic form is free web conferencing software, but there are paid plans as well starting at $8 USD per month per active user.

Pros:

  • The service is free at the basic level and requires no download. It runs in your browser.

Cons:

  • The service does not support more than 250 participants.

Best for:

  • Individuals and companies who need a simple, no-download web conferencing solution.

3. Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is Microsoft’s answer to Slack and falls within its Microsoft 365 product line.

Features

Using Microsoft Teams, you can set up teams and channels (in a manner similar to Slack). As a replacement to Skype Meeting Broadcast, Microsoft Teams offers Teams Live Events, allowing users to reach up to 10,000 participants. Integrations with Microsoft Office Forms and Office 365 for Education make it ideal for remote classes.

Security

Robust security measures to protect Microsoft Teams participants include two-factor authentication, data encryption, Advanced Threat Protection (ATP), and safe links and attachments.

Reception

Users praise how customizable Teams is and how easy it is to use it in conjunction with other products from Microsoft.

Ease of Use

While Teams features an organized platform, it may not be the most intuitive one for new users.

Pricing

There is a free version of Microsoft Teams available. Paid plans start at $10 per user per month, and range up to $57 per user per month.

Pros:

  • The app is ideal if you already use Microsoft Office.
  • Microsoft Teams enables you to reach up to 10,000 participants.

Cons:

  • Microsoft Teams is aimed largely at dedicated Microsoft users.

Best for:

  • Those who wish to conference with users of Microsoft products. If you or your team are dedicated MS users, Microsoft Teams may be a fit. Otherwise, one of the other web meeting tools in this list may be more suitable.

4. Cisco Webex

Does your organization use Cisco technology? If so, the best web conferencing software for your needs may be Cisco Webex Meetings.

Features

With Cisco Webex, you get HD audio and video, screen sharing, calendar integrations, compatibility with a broad range of devices, and more.

Security

To secure your meetings, Cisco Webex uses TLS 1.2 support, encryption, and locking.

Reception

Users cite high video quality and low lag as some of the top benefits of Webex.

Ease of Use

The modern and simple user interface makes it a breeze to get started with this video conferencing software.

Pricing

Along with a free plan, Cisco Webex plans range from $13.50 per month per host for the Starter plan up to $26.95 per month per host for the Business plan. There is also a scalable Enterprise plan.

Pros:

  • If you are looking for rich features and fantastic ease-of-use, you may find Cisco Webex to be an ideal platform for both video chats and file sharing.

Cons:

  • If you want to add presenters, you need to purchase additional licenses.

Best for:

  • Those looking for a solution for a big company. If you have just one presenter, Cisco Webex might work for your needs.

5. BlueJeans

For organizations that prefer video conferencing tools that require no download, BlueJeans is Verizon’s alternative to Google Meet. Users can access it through their web browsers.

Features

BlueJeans features include Smart Meetings recaps and action item tagging, HD video and Dolby Voice audio, integrations for Outlook and Google calendar, whiteboards, application sharing, and more.

Security

You can protect your meetings with a randomized nine-digit ID, a participant passcode, and encryption. Plus, you can lock your meeting, remove participants, and share content individually, all of which help safeguard your privacy.

Reception

Reviewers like the privacy options for meetings and the excellent suite of features.

Ease of Use

The simple and intuitive design of BlueJeans’ interface makes it exceptionally easy to use.

Pricing

Users can join meetings on BlueJeans for free, but to host, you must pay for a plan. The Standard plan is $9.99 per month. The Pro plan is $13.99 per month, and the Enterprise plan is tailored to your needs.

Pros:

  • High degree of control over who can access your meetings and content.

Cons:

  • Occasional lags.

Best for:

  • Those looking for easy to use but secure tool. If you want advanced protection over the privacy of meetings and a no-download solution, BlueJeans fits the bill.

In Conclusion...

As remote work becomes increasingly the norm for businesses globally, web conferencing tools like those above will become more and more vital for companies.

The best online meeting tools help you maintain the privacy of your remote communications while streamlining workflow for high efficiency.

If you are ready to increase the productivity of your remote team, consider getting started with Zoom or another of our recommended web meeting tools. You can also learn more about the perks of Otter.ai for team communication and collaboration!