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With so many of us now working from home, it is imperative to have an excellent online conferencing system. You have a good number of options, some of which we describe below.
Probably the most well-known and the brand name pretty much everyone uses to describe their online conferencing!
There have been concerns about it from privacy issues to ‘Zoomboming’! ‘Zoomboming’ is when the link to a call is advertised on social media, and it has allowed malicious users to sign in and share pretty much what they want! However, if you are careful, it is a great system to use and easy to master. There is a free option which is worth exploring, and the quality of both audio and video are good.
Screen and document sharing is relatively simple, as it is with all options. Zoom and the other options can be used via your devices as well through their bespoke apps.
As with all the options, you do need a good broadband connection to get the best from it.
This system is great if you use Google as your main workspace and have Gmail as your email system. Simple to use – you will find it on your account menu – the icon looks like a camera and is called MEET.
As with all things Google, it cleverly links up with your calendar and reminders. You need never miss a meeting again!
If you are an Office 365 users, then SKYPE is built-in, so you may already have it and not know. Just check you have the latest version uploaded. It is simple to use and affordable for a very small business or sole trader. You can even start a call from your contact list in Outlook as you can install SKYPE through your Outlook account.
Microsoft offers this easy-to-follow article with instructions!
You can add in an online text chat next to your audio or video call if you wish, and you can share documents easily too.
For teams with remote workers or those who work in differing groups, Slack is the new norm!
It is an online text-based conferencing platform. A main benefit is that it reduces those long email chains as it is a forum with works on exchanging ideas, questions, information and the relevant documents. It is easy to use, pretty addictive and works nicely with other software, particularly Google Drive.
It can be challenging to switch off from it, which can be an issue. If you do not work full-time or every hour of the day, you could miss something important which has been discussed while you were not there.
However, it is simple for large and small businesses to use, as project leaders can set up steams to suit each channel of work.
It works with a heap of other platforms, and this simple explanation is worth watching it if it sounds as if it may help you.
A pretty obvious choice for those who use Office 365 as it integrates immediately and can be integrated into a good number of third-party platforms and apps, along with all those in the Office suite. It is easy to attach content directly to the screen and to check on the tasks you have been assigned. The search bar is brilliant! It allows you to search back on any discussions you’ve had in the past.
Other mainstream online conferencing systems include:
Tech Radar has a good outline in this article of some of the options available to you. As with all things, it depends on what you want to do and how much you want to spend as to your final choice.
Finally, just as an aside, if you are finding you are getting more tired than usual after a raft of online meetings – it is normal! This new way of working is taking a bit of a toll as people get used to it. Firstly, this is due to the need to concentrate differently and probably more. This is for a number of reasons including having to listen more deeply and the recognition that you need interpret information differently purely as you cannot read people quite so easily through these online platforms.
Zoom or conference call burnout is real, so don’t feel too bad! This BBC article explains ‘Zoom burnout’ and gives some tips to help you retain your sanity and energy.
The BBC also give a short video with 7 short tips to getting the most out of your online conferencing system.