Different businesses have different communication needs. Thankfully, many video conferencing services are available, each with a range of options.
Bear in mind that some services are free but limit the number of participants. Many paid services will give an initial free trial period allowing you to use the service and explore the available features.
How will I use video conferencing?
Before you choose a video conferencing service, ask yourself these questions.
How many people will be on at one time?
Do you have a handful of people attending or hundreds? If you want to hold large, open forum meetings, you may need specialised functions like:
- Virtual lobby. Allows participants to sign in and wait before a meeting starts
- Polls and surveys provide feedback
- Audio/video recording to archive meetings for future reference
- Note taking to keep tabs on what happened.
Do I need an audio dial-in?
An audio dial-in is useful for participants who can't get to a desktop/laptop to use the video function.
Is it easy to schedule a meeting?
Many video conferencing platforms offer a native web scheduler. Some let you plan meetings direct from email apps like Microsoft Outlook. Whatever the alternative, easy scheduling is a must.
How simple is it to use?
An intuitive interface is important. People are more likely to use video meetings on the fly, and the learning curve won't be an imposition. This is where trial periods are useful.
What kind of meeting control do I need?
Do you want to put participants on mute or control their access to certain features? Is it important to turn off video feeds when you need to? Perhaps you want to invite extra people in the middle of a meeting. Think about the management features you want.
Do I want to record?
You may need video and audio recording for important meetings or for legal or compliance reasons. Another idea is to save segments of meetings to use for training purposes.
Do I want to take notes?
Some services offer built-in note taking. You can send time-stamped notes to people who weren't in the meeting.
What collaboration tools are available?
Are video meetings mostly for touching base, or will they be critical for getting work done? If you need to collaborate on projects, consider these tools:
- Screen and documents sharing
- Digital whiteboards that can be annotated by any participant
- Private chat for one-to-one messages during conferences.
Can I connect work applications?
If you work together on documents, the ability to link commonly used applications is a bonus. Some providers let you integrate third party software so you can easily share documents, presentations and spreadsheets.
How good is the mobile experience?
People will want to use their smartphones to join a meeting. Confirm that mobile video calling is as good as the desktop experience.
What support will I get?
If something goes wrong, you want a prompt response. Check reviews of the provider's service on the web. If you go for a trial, contact the help desk to see how they perform.
Good to know:
The nbn™ uses Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). You’ll need to consider whether you want to integrate voice and video conferencing, or keep them as separate services.
Check out some of Telstra’s video conferencing solutions available,
Microsoft® Skype https://marketplace.telstra.com/apps/339#!overview