Demand for online meeting platforms has exploded in 2020 due to the COVID-19 resulting in more people than ever working from home.
And, with lockdowns being reintroduced in many parts of the world and many companies likely to continue to allow their employees to work remotely in some form even after the pandemic, it’s worth exploring some of the best web conferencing platforms out there.
But, before we get into that, let’s get some of the basics out of the way.
What is an Online Meeting Platform?
An online meeting platform is simply a means of people – either employees within the same company or between different firms – to communicate via video calls.
Some of these platforms allow for hundreds of people to simultaneously be in these virtual meetings, and they may also have additional features, such as built-in calendars and other tools to help workers manage their workloads.
Our Top 3 Online Meeting Platforms
Not all web conferencing packages are built equally, so it’s well worth taking the time to check out the options available to you and decide which is best for your individual needs and preferences.
Zoom is one of the popular online meeting platforms in the world. You need to buy a subscription to unlock its full capabilities, but there’s also a free edition that is likely to be sufficient for most of you.
Paid plans start at $14.99 per month, making it one of the most affordable solutions out there.
Moreover, Zoom is one of the most reliable web conferencing platforms and it’s super easy to get started. Within a matter of minutes you can create an account and schedule a Zoom meeting via an email even if the recipient hasn’t downloaded Zoom on their PC or mobile.
Microsoft Teams is another widely used video conferencing platform – and it has emerged as a popular alternative during the pandemic.
It is free to use and, best of all, it is integrated with all of your other Microsoft products, such as Outlook. This makes Microsoft Teams great for staying on top of your planned meetings, conference calls and general workload.
In addition to scheduling one-off internal or external virtual meetings, you can arrange regular (daily or weekly, for example) meetings with all the members of your department or team.
You can use Microsoft Teams as a downloaded software or in-browser, so it can be a great solution for a one-off virtual video call.
Unlike the other two, Ring Central isn’t primarily an online meeting platform – it’s actually a voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) phone service and it is mainly used by companies to make international calls.
However, they do also offer digital conferencing capabilities in some of their plans.
Ring Central’s cheapest plan starts at $19.99/month per user, but this doesn’t give you video conferencing capabilities. For this, you’ll need to purchase a Standard or Premium plan, which cost $24.99 and $34.99 per month, respectively.
A Quick Summary
- With more people working from home than ever, demand for online meeting platforms has gone through the roof this year.
- There are many different platforms to choose from, each with their own pros and cons.
- Some offer free versions, and for many people/companies, they are more than sufficient.
- Aside from providing video conferencing capabilities, many platforms have additional features, such as built-in calendars, international calling and much more.
- Our top picks are Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Ring Central.