Video Conferencing for Power Users
Key Features You’ll Want for Your Business
By Joe Dysart
Video meetings appear destined to be a permanent component of the post-COVID workforce.
Given that remote work is expected to become a permanent component of business culture moving forward, you’ll want to be sure you’re using video meeting software that’s a perfect fit for your company.
“Remote work has proven to be a critical enabler of business and economic continuity, ultimately proving that work really is something that we do and not somewhere that we go,” said Jim Lundy, lead analyst for Aragon Research. “In this next phase, companies have the opportunity to completely rethink how they operate. Collaboration technologies that provide high quality and highly secure video at scale will be key.”
While it’s tempting to simply grab a popular name such as Zoom (https://zoom.us) or Skype (www.skype.com/en) for your videoconferencing needs and call it a day, you’ll be better served if you’re aware of all the key features available from video meeting software providers these days. There is a slew of providers fiercely vying for your business, and you may find that there’s a novel video meeting feature or two on the market that will really make a difference for your company.
Zoom, for example, has become a household name (and even a verb) among its legions of business user fans, but it may turn out that you prefer a lower-profile solution such as Whereby.com (https://whereby.com), given that the solution enables you to bring someone into a video meeting with you with just a single mouse click. Or you may decide that another video meeting solution rings the bell for you because it’s designed to work with Zapier (https://zapier.com)—a software integration solution that enables thousands of apps from thousands of app makers to work together seamlessly.
Toward that end, here’s a roundup of the key power-user’s features you’ll find in video meeting software that you can use to decide on the ultimate solution for your business:
Live Text Transcription: One of the newest features emerging in video meetings, live text transcription enables you to see a real-time voice-to-text record of everything everyone in the meeting is saying. As you might imagine, the tech is not perfect yet, but Zoom, for example, has still promised to offer live text transcription to all users sometime in 2022.
Meeting Recording: Many video meeting software packages already offer an audio/video recording of a meeting that is available right after the meeting ends. This is a great feature for anyone on a team looking to double-check what was said or decided in any given meeting.
Meeting Highlights: This is a handy feature that enables a staffer or other employee to effortlessly put together a video-highlights reel for anyone unable to attend a meeting. For example, Blue Jeans (www.bluejeans.com/products/meetings) offers a meeting-highlights feature that enables a user to click a keyboard button to capture a 40-sec. clip of something important going on in any Blue Jeans meeting.
Any number of 40-sec. highlight clips can be created, and they are subsequently automatically strung together by Blue Jeans in a video-highlight reel that can be emailed to anyone. The recipient also has the ability to toggle ahead past any highlight and toggle back to a highlight they’d like to view again.
Screen Sharing: Most business-grade videoconferencing software offers the ability for one user to share a PC screen with everyone else or collaborate in other ways using a whiteboard or similar collaboration software. For many businesses, the feature is a must-have.
Live Public and Private Text Chat: Text chat is also standard for many videoconferencing packages, enabling people to add a quick thought to everyone while a meeting is in progress. They can also choose to have a private discussion with someone while the main video meeting broadcasts.
Instant Entry: While video meeting software makers have made entry to meetings as easy as clicking on a link and entering an ID and password, video meeting software from Whereby.com has made it a step easier. With this software, you can be invited to a meeting with a link. Simply click on it and you’re there, immediately onscreen and conferencing with the person who invited you.
This is a great feature for someone who may be instant messaging a customer, colleague or business partner and wants to get a video meeting going very quickly with no fuss and no muss.
Easy Integration With Other Software: Integration with other software is almost considered a prerequisite for any productivity app these days, and most video meeting programs offer some sort of integration. For example, thousands of software programs can be integrated with one another using Zapier (https://zapier.com), an online service specifically designed to enable all of those programs to work together.
Some major video meeting software names (such as Zoom) have their own marketplaces of hundreds of productivity apps that are specifically designed to integrate with their software.
Instant Bios on All Attendees: Warmly (www.warmly.ai) is an app for Zoom that scours the web for biographical information on everyone who is attending a Zoom meeting. It is based on data from the web associated with the attendee’s email address, and it’s a great way to break the ice or find something in common with someone else before you even get the meeting started.
Private Breakout Rooms for Smaller Meetings: Many video software packages also offer attendees the ability to break out into smaller rooms for private meetings while the main meeting is still going on. This feature is especially helpful for meetings featuring hundreds of people.
Virtual Backgrounds: As riveting as the home bookshelf behind you may be, business colleagues at a video meeting may not be interested in peeking into your home or watching your toddler make faces at the camera. Virtual backgrounds solve that problem by superimposing your image over a digitized background of anything you can photograph, illustrate or otherwise image, including a smart-looking office, a backdrop of the Grand Canyon or the captain’s seat on the Starship Enterprise.
Waiting Room: Virtual meeting waiting rooms are another must-have for most businesses. They enable you to get a look at people trying to enter your video meeting and block entrance to those who don’t belong there or ne’er-do-wells who are trying to crash your meeting for grins and giggles.
Gmail Meeting Scheduling: Many video meeting packages that are integrated with Zapier or another integration solution enable you to schedule your video meeting from within Gmail or other popular email programs.
In-Suite Videoconferencing: Before you go looking for video meeting software, double-check any remote productivity software you may be using. Many of these suites (including Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Google Workspace) already include video meeting software that may satisfy all your needs.
Popularity: More often than not, extremely popular video meeting solutions got that way by consistently wowing their users. The top five most popular solutions currently on the market, according to software review site G2Crowd (www.G2crowd.com) are:
- Zoom (https://zoom.us): 4.5 out of 5 stars.
- Microsoft Teams (www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-teams/download-app): 4.3 out of 5 stars.
- Microsoft Skype (www.skype.com/en): 4.3 out of 5 stars.
- Cisco Webex Meetings (www.cisco.com/c/en/us/products/conferencing/webex-meetings/index.html): 4.2 out of 5 stars.
- BlueJeans Meetings (www.bluejeans.com/products/meetings): 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Free Plan: Some of the most popular video meeting packages (including Zoom, Google Meet and the video conferencing found in Microsoft Teams) offer a basic, bare-bones plan you can use for free forever. These free plans offer you the luxury of getting a feel for how video meeting works while simultaneously giving you the time to figure out which features in video conferencing are important to you and which are simply nice-to-haves.
Joe Dysart is an internet speaker and business consultant based in Manhattan. 631-438-1142