Online meeting software: Everything YOU need to know for efficient virtual meetings

Discover the top online meeting software choices

Step into the new world of remote work, where the word 'Zoom' has become a verb, and virtual meetings have evolved from a convenience to a necessity, growing from 48% to a staggering 77% between 2020 and 2022.

Online meeting software has witnessed a meteoric rise, with Zoom leading the charge as the fastest-growing video conferencing software during the pandemic.

In a matter of months from the outbreak of COVID-19, Zoom experienced a jaw-dropping 2900% increase in daily meeting participants. But amid the surge, other contenders—like mmhmm—have joined the market.

So, here's our comprehensive guide to online meeting software, demystifying the landscape of video conferencing and virtual collaboration.

Beyond Zoom, we'll explore the dynamic mmhmm, the powerhouse Microsoft Teams, and the ever-reliable Google Meet. Why do you need them? 70% of remote workers find virtual meetings less stressful, while 71% find it easier to present in this digital domain.

Not only that, remote video conferencing can save your business time and money—and boost your green credentials as you ditch those domestic flights in favor of online meetings.

With only 30% of meetings considered productive, how can you make sure your next virtual meeting isn't a waste of everyone's time?

Understanding online meeting software

In the realm of virtual collaboration, online meeting software serves as the essential bridge connecting individuals across digital landscapes. So, what precisely is this tool that's become the cornerstone of remote work and virtual collaboration?

What is it?

Online meeting software is a practical solution facilitating real-time communication, collaboration, and face-to-face interactions in a work environment that sees teams more and more geographically dispersed. These platforms act as digital spaces where individuals converge, share ideas, and collaborate seamlessly, transforming traditional meetings into interactive experiences.

Where has the demand for video conferencing software emerged from?

With 16% of companies in the USA now operating a fully remote workforce, the evolution of online meeting software mirrors the increasing demand for seamless virtual interactions. From basic video conferencing tools to today's sophisticated platforms, this progression incorporates features that enhance user experience, from virtual backgrounds to interactive presentations.

Why is it important?

With remote work becoming the norm, online meeting software is a crucial enabler. It bridges geographical gaps between teams, clients, and collaborators, empowering individuals to work cohesively despite physical distances. Video conferencing software fosters connection, collaboration, and face-to-face communication in a world that increasingly values the work-life benefits of remote work.

What are the key features of video conferencing software?

Embark on a journey through the pivotal features that shape the landscape of online meeting software, transforming digital interactions into seamless and impactful experiences.

Video conferencing: Welcome to the digital meeting room

Video conferencing is the heartbeat of remote work, fostering real-time communication and connection.

Integrations play a pivotal role by seamlessly linking your meeting software with essential tools product management or sales management tools to streamline collaboration and enhance productivity. Breakout rooms, offering dedicated spaces for small group discussions, mimic real-world conference options that provide focused interaction, while chat boxes facilitate dynamic conversations alongside the main meeting, fostering active participation and spontaneity.

Platforms like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, and mmhmm take center stage here, each bringing a unique blend of features that redefine the digital meeting room experience.

Bridge understanding with screen-sharing

Show don't tell. That's long been the secret behind effective, clear presentations. Screen-sharing does just that. It goes beyond being a visual aid—it's a catalyst for engagement, allowing participants to actively visualize concepts, share feedback, and boost overall participation.

From collaborative annotation to application sharing, screen sharing brings versatility to your virtual meetings, enhancing the visual dynamics. Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and mmhmm each offer distinct screen-sharing features that redefine the way you showcase and collaborate on content.

Use recording and transcription to archive information

The days of assigning a note-taker to meetings are long gone. (Yippee! cries the mmhmm notetaker extraordinaire here). Top-of-the-range video conferencing software includes recording and transcription tools that enable comprehensive post-meeting reviews and documentation. Valuable for archiving information and facilitating accessibility, recording and transcription redefine the way we capture and revisit digital discussions.

Platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Otter.ai seamlessly incorporate these capabilities, offering a comprehensive suite of tools that elevate the post-meeting review process, fostering efficient collaboration, knowledge retention, and task allocation.

Which is the best video conferencing software on the market?

Embark on a guided tour through the elite class of online meeting software, where we dissect the distinctive features, unveil the pros and cons, and tune into user reviews of the top 6 platforms shaping the virtual collaboration landscape.

1. Zoom

Zoom has secured its place as a virtual meeting titan, celebrated for its reliable video conferencing. Having seen a meteoric rise in users since the Pandemic, Zoom has become so synonymous with video conferencing that it's practically a verb in its own right. With breakout rooms, chat functionalities, and versatile integrations, Zoom offers an intuitive user experience that's standing the test of time.

Why we love Zoom

  • Breakout rooms facilitate smaller group discussions—one video chat can be separated into as many as 50 separate sessions.

  • Chat functionalities support real-time communication.

  • Links with various tools to enhance the video conferencing experience—including mmhmm.

  • The Zoom AI Companion offers an accurate, and almost real-time transcription service, saving time on note-taking.

Pros:

  • Zoom is widely accessible and well-known, so you're unlikely to encounter challenges when inviting clients or staff to meetings.

  • It's capable of hosting large numbers of participants in online meetings, and with paid plans, you can add even more.

  • Screen-sharing is intuitive and easy to set up.

Cons:

  • Some of the settings can be difficult to access on the web interface, meaning there can be a steeper learning curve for more complex features.

Don't take our word for it...

"Zoom is easily integrated with other software, so you can organize your schedule with your calendar and create a meeting event. That means that after you send your email, and your preferred method of video call is Zoom, the meeting link is automatically created and sent to the recipient's email address after they book a meeting."G2 reviewer.

2. Microsoft Teams

Part of the Microsoft Suite, Teams is a veritable collaboration powerhouse. Integrating seamlessly with Office 365, it provides collaboration hubs, file sharing, and an extensive chat system.

What we like about Teams

  • Teams' collaboration hubs foster teamwork in dedicated spaces.

  • Its centralized platform unifies meetings and project management.

Pros:

  • Offers more in-depth video conferencing features than less sophisticated competitors (like Slack), which work well for large organizations requiring more than one-to-one calls.

  • Integrates well with other Microsoft 356 applications, which can streamline workflow for Microsoft users.

Cons:

  • If you're not already a Microsoft-centric organization, compatibility can be an issue and there are better options available.

  • It can be difficult to navigate to previous chat threads to retrieve information.

  • Can be a steep learning curve, especially when trying to understand its more advanced features.

What other users say...

"I like how it can share a document so users in your specific team are updating and working off of the SAME document. This is especially helpful when multiple people are collaborating."Capterra reviewer.

"There are actually times, and I hate to admit it, that I get too frustrated trying to use Teams to call other Macs, that I switch over and call them on Zoom instead."Capterra reviewer.

3. Google Meet

Google Meet, part of the G Suite, is synonymous with simplicity. Offering straightforward video conferencing, it features screen sharing and live captioning.

Our lowdown on Google Meet

  • Google Meet is known for its user-friendly and uncomplicated interface. You can only access the video conferencing software via a web browser but given there are no specific drivers needed, most modern web browsers are highly compatible.

  • Great integration with other G Suite apps, including Google Docs and Sheets for simultaneous work during meetings.

  • Google Calendar integration streamlines scheduling processes.

Pros:

  • Seamless connection with other G Suite productivity tools

  • A good range of features in the free version makes this a very cost-effective solution for video calls and online collaboration.

  • Automatically saves conversations and recordings of video calls to Google Drive for easy information retrieval.

Cons:

  • Google Meet lacks a useful transcription tool that other video conferencing apps include.

Here's what users say...

"It’s connected with my agenda, generating automatic links to my students and reducing my time spent scheduling manually. The sharing screen has improved, you can kinda see the other people AND the shared screen. This makes a huge difference at meetings."Capterra reviewer.

4. Cisco Webex

The granddaddy of video conferencing, Cisco Webex has been around in one form or another since 1995 and boasts a comprehensive suite of features, including HD video calls, screen sharing, and AI-driven transcriptions.

What we like about Webex

  • A host of cant-do-without features like real-time transcription and breakout rooms for effective collaboration.

  • High-quality, HD video conferencing.

  • Robust security with end-to-end encryption.

Pros:

  • Webex's interactive whiteboard features and app-sharing capabilities make this a great video conferencing service for large, collaborative remote teams.

  • Its user interface is intuitive and easy to learn.

Cons:

  • Webex is one of the pricier options on the market, and the real-time transcription service costs extra, too.

Don't just take our word for it...

"I have used this tool for over 5 years and it's something I use every day for work. It's great for training classes, remote or onsite in a classroom. It keeps the class engaged, they can share screens and learn from hands-on practices, and can work together in smaller groups which is great for learning activities. The whiteboard feature is helpful for notes and announcements, keeping the class on track. And everything from the session can be saved for later review or to send to an absent learner."Capterra reviewer.

5. GoToMeeting

GoToMeeting is celebrated for its simplicity, providing essential features like video conferencing, screen sharing, and webinars, without fuss.

Why we've included GoToMeeting

  • There's a good balance between cost and features here, making it a great option for small businesses that need a robust video conferencing platform on a budget.

  • It integrates well with both Google and Microsoft 365 calendars.

  • It offers unlimited recording to the cloud, plus real-time AI transcription.

Pros:

  • It's simple and reliable. As a standalone video conferencing app it works well with all platforms.

Cons:

  • It lacks a lot of the advanced features of the other services in this list and is best suited to webinars and remote IT management rather than video calling and online meetings.

What other users say...

"GoTo Meeting's simple interface makes it easy to use. The platform offers maximum data security giving us a safe communication platform to have private discussions. Joining meetings is so simple, you just have to click on the meeting link and it is not necessary to have the app in your device to join meetings." -G2 reviewer

6. mmhmm

Last but by no means least is mmhmm, redefining virtual presentations and screen recording with a dynamic suite of features—in particular the ability to have a live presenter on screen alongside your presentation slides.

Key features

  • Virtual Backgrounds that transform presentations into engaging, memorable meetings.

  • It empowers presenters with engaging control features.

  • Elevates presentations with versatile content—screen-share, move yourself around on your screen, and integrate more interactive elements.

Pros:

  • mmhmm is versatile, with creative backgrounds, screen-sharing capabilities, and innovative meeting "rooms" which make online video calls more engaging.

  • It's super user-friendly. Our user interface is intuitive and easy to learn.

Cons:

  • mmhmm system requirements only offer full functionality on Google Chrome.

Here's what other users say about mmhmm

"mmhmm is, by far, the absolute best presentation platform I have foundand I have looked a lot and demoed a lot of them. The flexibility, ease of use, and visually engaging experience that mmhmm provides have, without fail, been a game changer tool no matter the presentation styles."TrustRadius reviewer.

How to choose the best video conferencing software for your team

Hopefully, our lowdown on some of our favorite apps for video calls is useful to you. But, practically, how do you go about choosing which will be best for your team? We think you're best setting out SMART goals and aligning them with the different features each video conferencing tool offers. User reviews will help too. Read on for more.

Start by defining your business goals

Start by defining your business goals using the SMART framework—Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Whether you're a small start-up aiming for simplicity or a large enterprise in need of advanced collaboration tools, a clear understanding of your needs becomes the foundation for selecting the right software solution.

Tailor the toolkit you need

What collaboration tools do you need? Do you need unlimited group meetings? What is the video quality like? Scrutinize screen-sharing functionalities, and collaborative tools like breakout rooms, interactive whiteboards, and chat options. By focusing on features that directly impact your business objectives—and budget—you can ensure the selected platform will enhance your overall workflow.

Tap into reviews and user insights

Explore platforms like G2, TrustRadius, and Capterra, where users share their experiences to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each platform. This helps you make informed decisions and select a platform that not only meets industry standards but resonates with the practical needs of your business.

Tips for efficient virtual meetings

With only 30% of meetings considered productive, how can you make sure your next virtual meeting isn't a waste of everyone's time? From setting clear objectives to keeping things to the clock, here are our top tips for making the most of your online time.

Practical meeting tips

  1. Set clear objectives: Communicate the purpose, agenda, and expected outcomes to keep the session focused and productive.

  2. Master the tech: Whether it's screen sharing, breakout rooms, or interactive tools, understanding the tech enhances meeting efficiency.

  3. Time management: Aim for concise discussions and allocate specific time slots for agenda items to maintain a smooth flow.

  4. Engage through interaction: Use polls, Q&A sessions, or collaborative documents to keep participants engaged and encourage contribution.

Etiquette and best practices to keep online meetings professional

  1. Optimize camera and audio settings: Maintain eye contact by looking into the camera, and minimize background noise to create a professional environment.

  2. Consider your look: Dress professionally and choose a well-lit and clutter-free environment.

  3. Effective communication: Encourage participants to use features like the chatbox or raise hand option for organized discussions without interruptions.

What does the future of online meetings hold?

When American workers are offered the chance to work flexibly, 87% of them take their employers up on it. Virtual meetings and video conferencing are here to stay. But, rapid tech advancements—particularly around AI, VR, and sustainability—promise to redefine how we collaborate:

  1. Hybrid meetings take center stage: Expect a seamless blend of in-person and virtual interactions, offering flexibility and inclusivity.

  2. AI-powered smart interactions: Artificial Intelligence (AI) steps up, automating tasks, providing intelligent transcriptions, and personalizing the virtual meeting experience.

  3. Immersive technologies transform collaboration: Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) create immersive environments that go beyond traditional video conferencing.

  4. Sustainability at the forefront: A focus on sustainability means more use of video conferencing to bridge geographical gaps—and fewer business flights.

A final word

58% of Americans—the equivalent of 92 million people—say they can work remotely at least part of the time. So, choosing the best online meeting software to fit your business objectives is key. Whether Zoom, mmhmm, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, or another platform, focussing on understanding needs, evaluating features, and tapping into user reviews is key.

As you leverage the interactive, collaborative features of these platforms, the power to redefine your meeting experiences lies in your hands. Choose wisely, embrace innovation, and let the future of online meetings be a testament to your commitment to seamless, efficient, and impactful virtual interactions.

About mmhmm

Focused on transforming virtual presentations, mmhmm adds creativity to functionality. Users can enhance presentations with dynamic backgrounds, slides, and personalized video feed control. Its user-friendly interface and unique features make it a standout choice for those seeking to elevate virtual interactions. Whether you're a professional presenter or aiming to add flair to your online meetings, mmhmm offers a refreshing blend of functionality and creativity.

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