Let’s be honest, video conferencing tools like Zoom have kept us all sane during the lockdowns. With more employees working remotely, these handy tools stepped in to make communication much easier. But the trend towards remote work isn’t new. It’s been gaining momentum over the years. In fact, we have covered some of the best tools for remote work before.
According to PwC, 78% of CEOs think the shift to remote work is here to stay. Yep, you can expect more and more people to ditch the commute to the office and video conferencing software to become more popular.
But how do you pick the right software from a sea of options? What features should you look out for? Today, we’ll look at the best video conferencing software for 2021:
- Microsoft Teams
- Cisco Webex Meetings
- Zoho Meeting
- RingCentral Video
- Google Meet
- Blue Jeans
But before we dive in, let’s learn a bit more about video conferencing software.
What Is Video Conferencing Software?
Video conferencing software refers to tools used by two or more parties to communicate via audio and video through the internet. With these tools, you can initiate and conduct live conferences and remote meetings seamlessly on any supported device.
What Are the Advantages of Using Video Conferencing Software?
Minimize Travel Costs
Commuting for in-person meetings with clients, suppliers, and colleagues in satellite offices can be horribly inefficient. Video conferencing is a more cost-effective and convenient way of holding meetings.
Home-based workers are increasingly using video conferencing platforms to collaborate with colleagues scattered around the globe. In the same breath, organizations are increasingly hiring experts from all corners of the globe. Thanks to video conferencing, vast distances no longer matter. Teams can come together for regular meetings and even spur-of-the-moment check-ups.
Phone calls, emails, and instant messages can easily bring about misunderstandings, especially for businesses that run on a global scale. Video conferencing tools can help facilitate face-to-face communication that results in faster project completion and improved productivity.
More Engaging Than Audio
Audio conferences are usually less engaging than video conferences. Often, participants zone out and multi-task because they feel disconnected from others in the meeting. With video conferencing, there’s pressure to maintain eye contact, which translates into better engagement levels. Also, communicating “face-to-face” is a more effective way to pass a message across since others can read your body language.
Improves Meeting Attendance
Coordinating busy schedules and bringing staff together for in-person meetings can be a challenge. Video conferencing tools bring with them a flexibility that helps boost the attendance rates of meetings. Those not available at the stipulated time can always catch up by watching the recorded discussion.
Better Structured Meetings
Due to the nature of conference calls, where people call in from different locations, the start and end times of meetings are usually well-defined. Consequently, participants are more likely to stick to the timelines and agenda of the meeting. Generally, video conferencing leaves very little room for idle conversation.
Gives You an Edge Over the Competition
Video conferencing tools can help enterprises share knowledge more quickly and make team members more informed. In addition, they help customer service representatives to build relationships with customers through face-to-face conversations.
Video Conferencing Software Features to Look For
Screen and File Sharing
Screen sharing allows users to remotely view/share the host’s screen. For example, you can share your screen to guide coworkers through graphs, charts, software demos, data, and other documents for projects you're working on together. It's a great way to get participants on the same page by showing them exactly what you are talking about.
Go for a tool that allows you to share your entire screen and individual apps on your desktop during a meeting. The file transfer functionality allows you to send files to any video conference participant.
Pro tip: you can also use one of the tools from our list of the best remote desktop software to share your screen.
HD Voice and Video
For the best call experience, you need a video conferencing software that delivers HD voice and video. As a minimum, the tool should display around four 480P or at least 720P on high quality streams. You shouldn’t have to deal with grainy sound, echo, feedback, and other disruptions. Remember, video quality will depend on the internet connection speed and stability of all parties.
Are you broadcasting to a group of leads in a webinar or holding a meeting with employees? Users will get more out of the experience if they can interact with each other. A chat or instant messaging feature can help with this. Users get to share messages, including images and text, during the meeting or online event. Instant messaging is handy when users want to ask question without disrupting the meeting.
This feature allows you to record your video meetings and presentations. Recording allows users to track discussions and review sessions. This feature also enables absent participants to listen in at a convenient time.
Compatibility with Multiple Devices
You want a tool that works well on Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS devices. This allows people to attend online meetings from anywhere without device restrictions. Also, it’s often easier to work with tool that allows users to join meetings via a web browser.
What’s the Best Video Conferencing Software?
Microsoft Teams, a successor to Skype for Business, is a collaborative tool within Microsoft 365. It acts as a central hub for workplace conversations, video chats, collaborative teamwork, and document sharing. In essence, it's designed to aid worker productivity in a unified suite of tools.
The tool can be used to work on files within Office 365 apps such as Word, PowerPoint, Excel and SharePoint. Microsoft Teams provides users with features galore. These include tight connectivity with other Microsoft apps. It's a good team messaging app if your organization uses Microsoft.
- Tight integration with Microsoft Office
- A lot of integration options
- The software is Microsoft-centric
- Compartmentalized design has an air of formality that can inhibit open dialogue.
Zoom is used by more than 300 million people daily. It's a powerful video conferencing software that's intuitive, simple to set up, and feature-rich. Notably, it's one of the most popular video conferencing tools available today.
Zoom comes with a host of features that include the ability to touch up your appearance and change the background. These two settings make your presentation look a little more polished. The tool is available for use for free and you can host up to 100 participants at a time. Premium plans allow for more advanced features and more participants.
Zoom is best suited for small businesses and individual users.
- The Large Meeting add-on allows up to 1000 participants.
- Cloud and local recording.
- Business plans come with Admin controls
- Some features don’t support advanced security.
- Security features are not maximized by default.
GoToMeeting is one of the best video conferencing software available today. The tool comes with all the features you need to run a successful business meeting. It's exceptional build quality, excellent customer service, and a host of robust features make it very popular with users.
Video conferences are streamed in HD by default and screen recording is available to all users. For business subscribers, plans come with unlimited cloud storage to store their recordings. Also, screen sharing comes as a standard feature for all users.
GoToMeeting recently introduced a note taking feature that enables users to take notes directly into an editor in the video conferencing window.
GoToMeeting is best suited for standalone small business conferencing.
- Great features
- Large attendee numbers
- Works on all platforms
- Unlimited cloud recording
- Smart assistant
- UI design for the desktop version is dated.
- Webinar features are available in a different product
- Need for separate application to blur the background.
Cisco WebEx comes with market leading features and conferencing capabilities to support up to 100,000 people. The platform's features can be split into three distinct parts - calling, meeting and messaging.
WebEx has an excellent selection of in-meeting features, mostly standard, but there are some nice surprises. Users get personalized screen designs, HD video and audio for up to 1000 participants, and a variety of ways to attend meeting.
This tool can handle the needs of any business regardless of size. While it's a little pricey, the quality of the service is worth the expense. In addition, it comes with lots of integrations that easily make the system an integral part of your operations.
Cisco Webex is best suited for large organizations, especially existing Cisco customers.
- Free plan
- Cloud recording
- Intuitive user interface
- Powerful whiteboard and application sharing features
- Limited cloud storage
5. Zoho Meeting
Zoho Meeting is a popular video conferencing software allows you to conduct online meetings more efficiently. The tool designed for organizations with multiple teams in different places so that they can collaborate in real time.
Zoho allows you to share the desktop, conduct in-person meetings with customers, and demo your products. One of the nifty features of this tool is that you can transfer control to customers during product demonstrations.
Some of the outstanding features of Zoho include custom branding, desktop access, and website embedding. Users can access the tool via Windows, Mac, Linux, and most web browsers.
Zoho is a great video conferencing tool, especially for existing Zoho customers.
- Low cost
- Supports up to 40 simultaneous video streams
- No whiteboard
- Doesn’t work with Internet Explorer browser
- Doesn’t integrate with Microsoft Outlook
RingCentral Video is a comprehensive tool that combines video conferencing, team messaging, and screen sharing in one integrated platform. It allows users to deliver powerful online meeting experiences for teams. This is made possible by its rich set of tools that include chat, video file sharing, and web meeting features.
RingCentral Video allows you to hold meetings for between 200 to 500 people from across the globe. You can connect and collaborate with teams via HD video calls or host webinars for larger audiences.
The platform supports up to 10,000 participants for live webinars and training. Overall, RingCentral Video provides a frictionless meeting experience to organizations.
RingCentral is ideal for internal conferencing for large organizations.
- Ease of use
- Nifty whiteboarding function
- Free plan
- Free plan comes with 40-minute limit
- Recordings are stored locally
7. Google Meet
Google Meet is basically an upgrade of the free Google Hangouts up. It is designed for business applications such as web conferencing and webinars. The tool allows you to host video calls with up to 250 people depending on the service plan. Some of the key features include recording options and the ability to dial in by phone.
Users can access Google Meet via iOS and Android mobile phones. It also comes with Google Calendar integration, which allows you to invite participants to a meeting directly from your calendar.
- Excellent security
- Easy to use
- Great performance
- Frictionless video conferencing for up to 250 people
- Limited number of users
ClickMeeting is a great video conferencing software for organizations that host live webinars. It allows you to conduct polls and surveys, and rebrand webinars to suit your organization's image.
ClickMeeting features screen sharing, private chat, multi-user sub-accounts, chat to text translations, video recording, and webinar statistics. The software is a cloud-based platform that gives users HD video and audio streaming.
Some of the key features of ClickMeeting include in-meeting polls and surveys, in-meeting chats, private messaging, screen sharing and a waiting room. The tools also come with a whiteboard function for drawing and brainstorming and webinar recording and storage. In addition, ClickMeeting allows you to stream on social media sites like YouTube and Facebook.
- Free trial
- Easy to use
- Great for webinars
- Doesn’t come with phone support
- A little pricey
- Limited video participants
9. Blue Jeans
BlueJeans is a cloud-based software that covers everything you need to host online meetings. The tool allows for meetings of up to 100 participants and comes with a wide variety of features. Some of the stunning features include HD video, Dolby audio, meeting recordings, screen sharing, and whiteboarding.
BlueJeans also comes with smart meeting technology that uses enough intelligence to capture critical moments during the meeting. Other nifty features include smart meetings, video painting, remote desktop control, host controls, and breakout sessions.
- Task assistant provides smart meeting minutes
- Custom branding
- Latency issues
- No background blurring option
Skype is a household name in the video conferencing software niche, which serves as a strong draw for many people. Microsoft's video chat tool is usually thought of as being much more than a way of keeping in touch with family and friends.
This cross-platform software also supports group video calling for up to 50 people. You can use Skype in a browser, which is perfect for chatting with people who have not installed the app. Skype also comes with a screen sharing option and the ability to blur backgrounds.
Other handy features include recording chats and subtitling your conversations. The free version of the software supports up to 50 participants. However, you can upgrade to a premium plan to gain support for chats with up to 250 participants. This plan comes with Office integration and more stringent security options.
- Live subtitles
- Cross-platform support
- Possible to use in web browser
- 50-participant limit
Video Conferencing Software FAQs
What is the best app for video conferencing?
The best app for video conferencing largely depends on your needs. We recommend Zoom for personal and small business use and Microsoft Teams for large organizations.
What is the best free video conferencing?
Zoom is the best free video conferencing software.
Pandemic aside, organizations are moving away from the traditional office setup and have been doing so for some time. Personnel are becoming spread out across different geographic locations. As a result, communication is becoming more challenging. Add partners and customers into the mix, and the constraints get even worse.
Luckily, video conferencing software can help your business overcome these challenges and bring life into your meetings. Choose a tool from our list, and you’ll be good to go.