3 of the Best Video Conferencing Tools

Working online can be fun, easy and productive as long as you use the right tools.

A office setup utilising video conferencing

What is video conferencing?

If you're like us, then you've most likely found yourself at home not able to leave the confines of your room and struggling to figure out how to connect with your clients and customers. It may be that you need to be running therapy sessions, meetings or client catchups. In any of these cases and more, video conferencing can be the light in the dark that will help you stay connected.

A meeting we had the other day at Imaginary Space using whereby.com

Whereby

Whereby (formerly appear.in) is a great and lightweight video conferencing call hosted on the web. You can quickly send a link to clients customised to your company. Our whereby link for example is whereby.com/imaginaryspace. Being able to share browser links on the fly really helps with getting people into meetings fast. Without the need to download any additional software this is definitely a good way to get even the most non computer savvy clients into a call, fast.

Pros:

  • Easy to use and no software required.
  • Features including chat, screenshare and people management.
  • Ability to name rooms for free adding that personal touch to the link you send.
  • Fast and usually has no lag associated with it.

Cons:

  • Rooms are limited to just 4 people. You will need to pay for more seats.
  • Lacks some features like being able to schedule meetings.
  • You cannot natively record meetings and will need to use recording software such as loom.
Image
The Ueno design agency utilising video conferencing

Zoom

Zoom is currently the crowd favourite when video conferencing. Having used zoom myself I can definitely recommend its robust features for anyone wanting to host a call larger than 4 people. Zoom has an expanded amount of features including the ability to schedule calls and live record the meeting for later use. Like whereby, you can send links to clients for them to join the meeting although they will need to download the associated software to be able to join. These can also be pin code protected if you require the meeting to be confidential.

Pros:

  • You can host large meetings.
  • Features including chat, screenshare and people management.
  • They have a brilliant scheduling tool that allows you to not only schedule meetings but also see all of them in a neat little list view.

Cons:

  • Clients will need to download some software. This might cause issues for those not suited to using technology as much as yourself.
  • Group meetings are limited to 40 minutes. You must then restart the call afterwards.
  • You need to pay for the more advanced user management features such as adding, deleting and stopping people from recording meetings.
The AJ & Smart team using Zoom to host their design calls

Google Hangouts

Google hangouts is one of the first video conferencing tools to surface on the internet considering it was launched back in 2013 (6 years ago)! The tool integrates nicely with your existing google account (if you have one) and can be used in conjunction with googles calendar app to schedule meetings easily. If you are wanting to phone people as well you can top up the account balance and place calls via your laptop for as little as 0.001p a minute! Hangouts also provides an instant messaging feature that most video conferencing tools have but do not offer outside of the call you are placing.

Pros:

  • Integrated with google calendar for meeting scheduling.
  • Send clients and customers links to the call.
  • No software required.
  • Free! 

Cons:

  • From our experience the tool can be temperamental at times. The main issues resolving around connectivity and people being able to hear one another. However, most of the time it works perfectly! 
  • Managing people is not as robust as other software. This includes removing users and muting other people.
  • The internal chat system is lacking simple features such as emojis 😄.

Conclusion

Imaginary Space uses video conferencing for client meetings that we cant make in person. Some of the rules that we have in place make our meetings more efficient and friendly:

  • Try to make sure you have a webcam. Being able to see someones face whilst they talk makes the call more human and friendly.
  • Set an agenda. It's great to chat about the weather, your latest aspirations and other minor chit chat but having a goal for the call will keep it short and to the point.
  • Keep an eye on the time. Productive meetings should take no longer than 45 minutes - 1 hour. Assign someone as time keeper who can move the conversation forward when you get stuck.

If you need help with setting yourselves up online or just need some general advice then send us an email at hello@imaginaryspace.co.uk