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online meetings platform

Resolved – 5 Biggest Challenges of Working from Home

challenges of working from home

Amongst the many benefits of the new ‘working from home’ normal is a positive impact on the sustainability of a myriad of initiatives. Economic growth has, in the past, exacted a heavy toll on climate change, sustainable urban living, and responsible consumption.

This drastic reduction of employee and employer carbon footprint has led to a remarkable improvement in intra-city congestion and pollution. Remote work is a sustainable economic growth feature and is the future of the labor landscape. Despite all its benefits, working from home has unique challenges as well. Some of these challenges include:

1. Coordination and communication challenges

According to David Heinemeier and Jason Friend, the founders of Basecamp, communication is foundational to the success of a remote working team.

The authors of REMOTE: Office Not Required, say that bad blood can easily develop between work from home teams when the bulk of their communication takes place through email. This set up will quickly snowball small blunders into full-blown melodramas if they are not quickly nipped in the bud.

Fortunately, a whole industry sprung up around team collaboration tools that make it easier for employees to communicate effectively. Aira, for instance, is a meeting assistant that automatically records and transcribes meeting dialogue.

This robust voice AI platform will save all your meeting notes in one location. She will also help all remote working teams keep track of all online meetings deliberations. Aira doubles team productivity, info sharing efficiency, and multiplies sales increase. Team collaboration tools ensure that no member of the team feels left out of the loop.

2. Distractions

Source
Professor Robert Kelly’s BBC interview that earned him the title of ‘BBC Dad” is a perfect example of how distracting the work from home environment is.

In the 2017 live interview with the British news channel, the professor’s two children made a comical entrance to his home office as he talked about the ouster of Park Geun-Hye of South Korea. Parents working from home watched in amusement as Kelly kept composure during the brief scene, keeping the show running.

Most parents can relate to the live TV blooper because they all struggle to maintain a work and home life balance when they have work near their children. One of the major reasons some employees embrace working from an office is to build a firm barrier between their home and work life. To work successfully from home with fewer distractions, you need a designated work spot, devoid of all disturbances.

Have some noise-canceling headphones to eliminate auditory distractions. Set up firm rules with your family and politely ask them to behave as if you were away at work when you are at work from home.

3. Time management

Employers have the innate fear the remote work employees will slack off in the absence of oversight. Most times, the opposite is the reality.

Most work from home employees will overwork because they find it harder to switch off. Surrounded by all the tools needed to put in extra work, they will have a harder time drawing the line. This challenge becomes even more complex when you are working for yourself.

Every remote worker needs to establish a work schedule that keeps them from overworking or slacking off. This rota will keep you productive and give you ample time to be with family and friends. Use tools such as an AI meeting assistant, Trello,  Asana, and Evernote to schedule, manage time and tasks, and organize your work hours.

4. Lack of social interaction

social interaction

Co-workers are often an employee’s main social circle if they do not have a close family. If you are working from home, isolation can be a challenge if you spend days by yourself. To lessen the feeling of being a hermit, have social breaks in your work schedule.

Go out for lunch with friends or grab yourself a snack from a friendly food shack attendant down the street. Take your computer with you to a co-working space occasionally, or work from a coffee shop and enjoy the social environment. Join local organizations and groups for meet-ups and recreation.

5. Technology hiccups

Challenges such as internet outages can make remote work a problem. You do not want your connection or computer to crash right in the middle of an important zoom meeting. To avoid such inconveniences and for your peace of mind, have a backup plan. You can, for instance, a mobile hotspot device for an alternative internet connection and a backup tablet or laptop at hand.

Conclusion

Ditching the daily commute, working from anywhere in the world, and a flexible work schedule are some advantages of working from home. The challenges above, however, can make remote work unproductive if you do not use them to create structure, routine, and discipline.

Top 10 Effective Tricks to Transform Your Normal Meetings Into Smart Meetings

smart meetings

Long before the onset of the ongoing global pandemic, dispersed teams were slowly becoming common in the workplace. The online meeting in the age of the pandemic is now a staple. Unfortunately, some of these virtual meetings are more unproductive than their traditional meeting counterparts.

Collaboration has a great advantage in the workplace, but it is not an easily achievable attribute amongst dispersed teams and their virtual meetings. The speedy chat by the water cooler has evolved into 30-minute video meeting on an online meeting platform.

Work hours have been lost to awkward video chats with data showing a massive increase in the use of virtual meeting tools such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom. By the end of March, Microsoft teams had accumulated over  2.7 billion minutes of use while Zoom downloads had blown up by 1330%

It is not unusual to have these gawky meetings go out of hand as familiar sounds of “your screen was frozen for a minute, kindly repeat your point” or “kindly turn on your mic” bring the meeting to a standstill.

Zoom fatigue has now become a new phenomenon, eating away at dispersed team’s sanity and ensuring the meeting productivity stays at an all-time low. Did you know that once distracted, the human brain requires 23 minutes to get its focus mojo back? This data point is a good explanation of why the 30-minute online meeting is often extremely unproductive. 


Why you need to have smart meetings

There are nevertheless many advantages to online meetings amongst dispersed teams. When workers in diverse locations, separated by time and space collaborate, they can develop products, services, and information faster, cheaply, and more efficiently.

By distributing employees, businesses become more agile in production and customer requests management. The virtual collaboration will also enhance key stakeholder involvement in a business’s decisions and work processes.

When smart meetings become a norm, both the employee and stakeholder will experience more satisfaction and an improvement in the quality of work.


Ten of the best tips on how to hold smart meetings

1. Have a meeting facilitator

AIRA

Most normal meetings are not collaborative because most professionals do not have basic meeting management information. In a physical meeting room, however, this shortcoming is surmountable. The meeting’s members will fumble, stumble, and will eventually make the meeting work.

An online meeting is less forgiving. When you have a variety of professionals in diverse time zones and geographies, a few hitches can throw the whole meeting into disarray. You can put an end to awkward silences and sudden bursts of speech with a meeting facilitator.

The facilitator will put an end to the free-for-all environment, ending discussions that hijack and that throw the agenda out of the window. The smart meeting facilitator will develop the meeting’s agenda and ensure that every member has an opportunity to contribute.

They will keep every participant from going off-topic and ensure that all meeting notes are taken, shared, and followed up after the meeting. Aira is a virtual meeting assistant that intelligently takes meeting notes and shares them with meeting participants.

She will turn your normal meetings into smart meetings via her state of the art machine learning and artificial intelligence technology. This virtual meeting assistant will join your online meetings, transcribe the meeting’s dialogue, and highlights the action points discussed.

With Aira at hand, your human facilitator can enjoy sharing and solving problems with other team members. They will not spend their meeting moments on minute writing tasks. Aira integrates with customer relationship management platforms via Zapier, to ensure easy access to meeting documents and analytics.

2. Use participant’s names

Participants

According to research done by Wil Schuz, when individuals gather to collaborate they need to feel in control. They also require openness and inclusion. These three needs can be naturally meet in a physical meeting but are harder to meet in a virtual meeting.

The need for inclusion for instance can be met by ensuring that all participants are called by their names. This smart meetings feature will cut down on the fear of being marginalized or ignored. Most online meeting members join meetings with the sneaky suspicion that no one recognizes or knows that they are present.

Use names to foster the feeling of inclusion. Online meeting tools like Zoom will display names automatically during meetings.

3. Poll the participants

Virtual meetings could have cross-cultural elements opening up a wide door for cultural challenges. There also virtual meetings that are held across international airwaves, bringing about language and time differences to the already challenging virtual meeting mix.

Virtual work also has many personal challenges. Humans assimilate 65% of communication via their eyes by translating a speaker’s body language. Non-verbal communication helps to foster a sense of team and trust.

Most online meetings kill most non-verbal communication cues, which encourages a breakdown in the interpretation of dialogue. You can meet the meeting member’s need for inclusion by polling the group. The meeting facilitator can ensure that they speak to each person in the virtual room and ask them whether they have ideas to share or whether they agree to the agreement at the table.

Since the virtual space lacks visual cues, the facilitator needs to cue in members when it is their time to speak. Polling every person in the room will increase the feeling of control and inclusion and cut down on boredom and dozing members.

Use smart tools such as Lean Coffee Table that allow members to vote and suggest on the ongoing discussions. The tool will enhance inclusion, and enhance feelings of influence, competency, and control.

4. Timebox your meetings

Most meetings are too long, a disastrous mistake when it comes to virtual meetings. You need to schedule a meeting time and use it accordingly. Do not extend your meeting time. Try whittling down the time until you have the perfect time schedule fit.

Timeboxing helps in dedicating blocks of time to a specific meeting agenda and topic. This practice keeps the meeting productive, meeting all goals laid. Use smart time management tools such as TickTick Premium to time box your meeting’s schedule.

5. Lay down meeting rules then optimize them

meeting rules

There are many conflicting online meeting facts out there. Some say that members should mute their microphones to reduce distraction. Others say that the use of video enhances concentration, preventing distractions such as selfies or multi-tasking. 

Rules are necessary for group management but you will not know how effective they are until you test them. Smart tools such as Google Forms or SurveyMonkey, can help you test, analyze, and optimize your meeting rules.

6. Use virtual whiteboards

You can create a common visual focus to increase participation. The visual documentation of ideas will increase participation and collaboration. Visual focus can be enhanced via screen projections or virtual whiteboards. WebEx has a smart whiteboard feature that allows its users to sketch their feelings or ideas on it.

7. Allow members to chat

Short online meetings have very little time to spare for adequate inclusion procedures. Tools such as GroupMe helps dispersed teams to chat among themselves on the go. It has a video, picture, and emoji feature as well as location sharing.

8. Have a technology guru at hand

Many businesses are grappling with the implementation of an effective virtual workplace. These companies are holding meetings without a plan in the hope that they will reap the benefits and opportunities of collaboration.

Unfortunately, all that they are gleaning are the pitfalls of unproductive meetings. The online meeting is very dependent on technology. Most employees on the other hand lack the technological know-how required to operate these virtual tools.

 Since few users understand how to make the best use of these tools, the technology will ‘go down’ when it is needed the most. It pays to have a technology guru to handle your distracting technology glitches and reduce delays.

9. Inspire joy!

inspire joy

There is never a dull meeting in smart meetings. Eliminate any boredom by marking events to enhance satisfaction amongst participants. Some businesses will for instance call for a virtual candle lighting session to inspire joy and contemplation.

Since online meetings do not have organic socialization, encourage non-work activity, and catch up sessions after the meeting. Let them introduce their babies or fur babies or sing Baby Shark. They can utilize GroupMe to enhance direct messaging and coordinate private chats across diverse device platforms.

10. Make the meeting proceedings actionable

Use tools such as Aira to share meeting notes afterward and to ensure that all deliberations are followed up on. Aira will share your meeting notes and transcriptions via email to all team members. You can also upload your meeting documents to Google Drive to enhance real-time document sharing and collaboration.


Conclusion

Smart meetings are productive and enjoyable and are a formidable part of a business’s growth strategy. Use these tips above to create smart meetings that enhance collaboration, productivity, and feelings of inclusion amongst members.

The 7 Major AI Companies of Web Conferencing Apps Every Marketer Must Know

web conferencing app companies

AI meeting tools are founded on some key premises:

  • That meeting can and do waste time, but shouldn’t waste time
  • That meeting can cost less money and take less time to run

From your own experience, you probably agree that meetings can be a headache and they also get in the way of daily work. Your employees or teams probably agree the same thing too. Korn Ferry, a consulting firm, conducted a study on 1945 workers, and only 11% of the study participants said that they had productive meetings.

In some cases, meetings indeed are the answer. In other cases, employees can find themselves sitting in meetings that are neither relevant to their daily responsibilities nor their overarching goals. In addition, even where meetings are scheduled and attended diligently, discussion points can tend to be forgotten and follow up of action items never initiated. Without sufficient follow-up, important ideas, that come out of meetings die.  

But there are companies out there that have invested time, money and effort to innovate solutions to turn meetings into the value-add they should be. We will discuss them in this post:


The Top 7 AI Web Conferencing App Companies

1. Testfire Labs

Testfire Labs is an award-winning, Canadian-based company that creates innovative AI solutions that increase business efficiency. Testfire is the company behind CANARI.AI, an AI-powered solution that focusses on plant health, and Hendrix.AI, an AI solution that automates and optimizes meeting outcomes. Hendrix.AI leverages Natural language processing to perform meeting-related tasks such as:

  • Transcribing notes
  • Organizing, recalling and summarizing meeting action items
  • Analyzes trending topics by going through meeting transcripts

“Meetings are broken”, is the simple maxim on which Testfire labs was founded. The company’s CEO believes that meetings take up a lot of unnecessary time and money investment, a factor that propelled him to create solutions to enable people to achieve more with speed.

Testfire’s target market for its solutions are enterprises with more than 1000 people.  Some of its ardent users include companies lie NAIT, that tend to be meeting heavy.


2. Across Labs Inc

Across labs, inc is an AI company based in San Francisco, California. According to Across Labs team, company managers and executives usually have an average of 62 meetings per month. Yet 50% of meetings they attend are failures for reasons such as:

  • Being involved in meetings that are of no relevance to them
  • Lack of clear action items
  • Key discussions points are not captured
  • Meeting monopolization by certain individuals
  • Getting sidetracked from main discussion agenda

Across Labs team consider Acrossio the answer to these problems. The company seeks to transform “the future of work” through their “content in context” flagship AI meeting software, Acrossio. Users of Acrossio can accelerate knowledge sharing and learning collaboratively.  

Acrossio records discussions that happens during a meeting, including meeting minutes, file shares, etcetera, and stores it to a collective cloud. Users add context to the discussions by appending their comments, bookmarks, and chats to the recorded sessions. The stored collective group knowledge is then transformed into intelligence that can be used by the company.

With Acrossio,

  • Capturing opportunities, risks and ideas coming out of discussions is made easier
  • You can also build up on old knowledge/meetings with points from new discussions
  • Acrossio can listen, record, transcribe and share content from meeting and discussion sessions
  • You get to know your team better and learn their strengths in problem solving, idea generation or visionary thinking
  • You can find out what teams are talking about and their moods and opinions around topics


3. Second Rise LLC

Second Rise LLC is an innovations company that provides services such as research, training, software development and publishing to over 5000 organizations including governments and non-profits.

Based in Portland, Oregon, SecondRise LLC is the brains behind Lucid Meetings, a cutting edge AI tool that improves team reporting and collaboration. Lucid meetings:

  • Facilitates meeting efficiency before, during and after a meeting
  • Keeps track of meeting results, through real time action items and keeping records in shareable formats
  • Distributes meeting items via email
  • Focusses on training to equip employees with knowledge on how to run efficient meetings
  • Provides templates for running meetings


4. MeetingSift

MeetingSift was founded by individuals with:

  • An urgent need to eliminate time wastage during meetings
  • A need to ensure that every meeting yields value by running efficiently.
  • An impressive level of collective expertise in communication, technology and collaboration, to make these two needs a reality

Although meeting minutes in MeetingSift are recorded by humans, assignment of note-taking duties is done intelligently to ensure meetings are captured collaboratively and with ease.

MeetingSift team seeks to make meetings more engaging and productive by:

  • Providing company executives with useful meeting intelligence
  • Encouraging individual output within groups
  • Enabling visualizations of what is happening in the group in real time
  • Integrating content in slide format. This also includes other presentation formats such as keynote and PowerPoint

MeetingSift also uses the Eisenhower quadrant and the effort vs impact quadrant to help teams prioritize what they choose to focus on.

A very important feature of MeetingSift is the “Linked activities”, which allows you discuss your brainstorms within the context of the quadrants, and rank projects by priority levels.


5. Cisco (Voicea + WebEx)

Cisco is a technology giant behind several innovative software products, including WebEx, an AI-powered meeting assistant.

Recently, Voicea, a company whose founders are from FaceBook, Oracle and LinkedIn, became part of Cisco’s WebEx platform.

Voicea are the creators of EVA, an AI meeting assistant that takes notes for you, allowing you to stay focused on your meeting. According to Voicea, 40% of your time is spent following up on meetings. Voicea’s ability to follow up frees up that time for you to use more efficiently.

Webex is a leader in video conferencing and when combined with Voicea’s note-taking and activation feature, it becomes a powerful tool for turning conversations into actions that leave an impact.


6. LogMein

LogMeIn is a Boston-based company that enables customer engagement, IT management and team collaboration through its cloud-based and SaaS remote connectivity products.  

LogMeIn owns a couple of products and solutions, among them GotoMeeting, an online tool for hosting web, video and audio meetings.

GotoMeeting has many innovative features, some of which include:

  • Commuter mode for people attending meetings while travelling or just out of the office
  • Siri voice command for joining meetings
  • Cloud recording, for seamless on the go meetings
  • Secure web conferencing that requires you to log in through your company’s page
  • Admin center for managing user access and monitoring app use

LogMeIn is currently being acquired by Francisco Partners and Evergreen Coast Capital Corporation, in a $4.3 billion deal that was slated to be finalized in mid-2020.


7. Eduba

AIRA

Eduba was founded in 2020 and for such a fairly new company, it has made quite an impact in the nascent field of AI meeting software.

Eduba is the team behind Aira, an AI meeting software that:  

  • Records meetings
  • Transcribes the recordings
  • Manages meeting attendees
  • Tracks action items
  • Manages meeting agenda
  • Integrates with your CRM to improve service delivery

Eduba serves brands across the software industry, sales and marketing, web development, digital marketing, lead generation, among others.


Final Words

There you have it. The field of AI meeting tools may be new, but it is still growing. As such, with time, we are likely to experience an upsurge of new AI meeting solutions.

Featured Image Credits: Freepik.com

How AI Machine Learning Helps You to Have Progressive Online Meetings

ai machine learning helps online meetings

Innovations in Artificial intelligence (AI) technology have progressed so fast that it does boggle the mind, what the future holds. In a decade, we have intelligent computers that through neural learning technology can diagnose diseases, transcribe speech, or translate a language. Coupled with AI and machine learning, a computer’s smart capacity can modernize telecoms, financial, management, and healthcare industries.

The AI sector is the new frontier in industry and will be worth over $190 billion by 2025. This technology is critical to virtual assistant, predictions, surveillance, customer support, fraud detection, e-commerce, and social media applications. We use AI for image curation at Yelp and content discovery at Pinterest. Google’s neural matrix Deep Mind, powers amazing machine-learning aspects that include robust speech translation, natural language processing, prediction, and search ranking processes.

Twitter is dependent on bots for its curated timelines, while Facebook Messenger chatbots are taking the world of e-commerce by storm. Gartner estimates that by the end of this year, chatbots will manage over 85% of customer service needs. 


Why office meetings need AI tools support

One business sector that needs AI tools support is office meetings. Workers often associate meetings with time wastage, spending that time sending emails or dozing off. A study by Fortune shows that most employees will send at least three emails during a 30-minute long meeting! They complain that these conclaves are too long and unproductive. 

Most meeting chairpersons also do not prepare for meetings, wasting the participant’s time with an agenda-less gathering. Video chat meetings might be time-limited but they do have their complaints as well. Did you know that 43% of attendees on a conference call spend some of that time on social media? A large 65% of them will spend that time on other work related tasks.

Meetings seem to bring out the worst in workers! Participants of the ongoing global video meeting wave are up in arms over Zoom meetings. They have described them as extremely tiring. Why? Between freezing screens, and staring faces, focus during video calls is a challenge. Processing the tone, pitch, and non-verbal cues during a video call meeting is harder than it is in a traditional meeting setup.

Online meetings are shorter but their attendants have to dispense more energy studying the body language of their meeting partners, which drains them and creates a dissonance of conflicting emotions. Add minute writing to this painful set-up and the person in charge of minute taking will not have any opportunity to make valuable contributions or engage with other meeting attendants.


Reasons why artificial intelligence is an online meetings game changer

1. You can delegate some pre-meeting tasks to the AI meeting tool

AIRA

Meetings are essential to meeting business objectives and promoting positive company culture. They encourage teamwork, and every business owner should encourage mechanics that promote meetings, making them a source of productivity rather than a distraction. In the office set up, you can delegate your minute writing tasks to personal meeting assistants like AIRA.

AIRA will join web conferencing calls, record all the meetings proceedings, and transcribe all data on your behalf. She will keep track of all your online meetings and notes. Your favorite meeting companion will jolt down all meeting records, share them with all the meeting participants, and provide meeting analytics to help you optimize your processes. AI meeting tools can for instance;

  • Handle all the mundane but time-consuming tasks such as joining the online meetings, adding people to video calls, and calling all meeting participants prior to the meeting.
  • Identify meeting participants and usher them to the meeting room. With AI meeting bots at hand, you will have fewer online meetings where participants log in and hardly know half of the faces on their screens.
  • The AI tool will also connect your meetings to your company’s digital knowledge assets, to assist in the setting of an agenda as well as the organization of meeting notes. 


2. The AI tool will also make your meeting more productive

You probably have been in a meeting where one participant forgot to mute their microphone and every participant had to listen in to a transcription of their doctoral thesis. Some meetings also go on for too long as each person gets their stand-up moment to discuss business matters. Such talkfests often go beyond the 90-minute meeting mark. In a disorganized meeting, you will have a large number of presenters going off-track.

Meetings are often unproductive because its convener did not do their homework. Hopping people onto an online conference room, when you have not stated the meeting’s purpose is a recipe for disaster. There should be a detailed and thoughtful agenda that should encompass the subject of the meeting, the subject’s topics, and the people responsible for each topic discussion.

The leader should highlight the time allotment for each presenter, write down each question beforehand, and set down the meeting’s expectations. Knowing when and where to mute sound during online meetings is a grey and highly contentious area. It needs definitive guidance because workers are spending more time than ever before in remote work video meetings.

Consequently, you will have meetings where some participant disrupts the ongoings with a joke (which will be more annoying than funny) or there will be background noises from barking dogs, construction, or happy children.

Some of the attendants may also be interrupted and have to put the meeting on hold to go deal with real-life issues. Often they will do so, and leave the microphone on. According to Zapier, there might not be a need to mute microphones in a small meeting with five or fewer participants. Since video conferencing software can only show a few faces on the screen at the same time, you can only read essential non-verbal cues from the visible faces.

In the absence of these non-verbal cues, an attendant might be tempted to talk out of turn, especially when the video begins to lag. A larger online meetings need to have an automated system that mutes all other sources of sound and leaves the presenter’s sound on.

Can you imagine the cacophony of sounds that can arise from the microphones of 200 or more online meeting participant’s backgrounds? How can AI and machine learning tools fix these challenges and make your meetings distraction less and productive?

  • AI meeting assistants can automatically mute microphones of meeting members and only enable a presenter’s microphone. The AI tool can also perform selective muting by detecting noises such as barking dogs, keyboard tapping, then alerting, and requesting the offending party to mute their mic.
  • AI meeting assistants can also use facial recognition to put names to faces. This feature can be very useful in online meetings that have multiple participants in them, making identification easier.
  • The AI can also supply each participant’s designation, work history, and contact information to any member that requires it, to ensure that all members spend less time asking or digging for information during meetings.
  • These tools are also maturing and acquiring situational context knowledge. Consequently, they will automatically know about the agenda in question and make better and more accurate meeting notes than human minute writers can.
  • They will also table useful documentation such as financial projections or analyst reports at a moment’s notice. AI tools will also supply past meeting notes, deliberations, conclusions, and action points to ensure that your meeting runs smoothly.
  • Since intelligent bots will be taking notes and transcribing all discussions on your behalf, you will have more time on your hands to focus on the meeting and to share your brilliant ideas with the rest of the team.
  • Voice interaction with an AI tool will free your mind and hands, making the tiresome video conferencing sessions less of a hassle. An AI assistant like AIRA will become part of your work team reliving you of mundane and routine team chores and making your meetings better and enhance growth.


3. Handling after-meeting chores

Your artificial intelligence and machine learning meeting tool of choice will automatically gather information on your behalf ensuring that all meeting members stay focused during the meeting. The tools will do away with haphazardly done or hand-scrawled notes. Some of their after-meeting benefits include;

  • Sharing meeting transcripts to all members that highlight all action points
  • Fostering camaraderie, trust, and collaboration, by enabling the sharing of a meme or two, business files, and meeting records.


Conclusion

AI machine learning helps online meetings to be more productive and more efficient in delivering positive results. AI machine learning technology benefits for personal and office use are endless. Virtual personal assistants like Alexa or Google Now can set up your schedule and remind you of items on it on time. Siri is a fantastic personal assistant and is particularly useful during travel.

She can check the weather, your flight information, find your lost luggage, and grab that great parking spot for you. AI meeting assistants like AIRA or Hendrix will also bring your office workers closer allowing focused interactions that enhance productivity during meetings.

Top 10 Platforms for Hosting Online Meetings

Online meetings

Meetings in a company are inevitable; they sustain continued business. But with company operations and offices spread over wide geographical areas -some even global- it can be a challenge to conduct meetings.

Traveling for a meeting is always an option -and it has been done before- but the cost of travel is high, and the ROI is hardly ever justifiable given the length and/or output of the meeting. In addition, as the world grapples with how to do business in the era of covid19, online meeting tools are useful now more than ever. Travel is not an option for anyone and even when travel resumes, having the option to hold online meetings while saving costs will still remain a preferable option.

In this article, we will explore online meeting tools that make having business meetings easier, cost-effective, collaborative, and productive.


Top 10 platforms for hosting online meetings

1. ClickMeeting

ClickMeeting

ClickMeeting is a reliable meeting platform that comes loaded with many useful features. It’s ideal for video conferencing, hosting webinars, online conferences and holding online meetings.

It’s easy to use, making it ideal for anyone with little to no technical skills. Click meeting runs online, so you do not need to download or install anything.

Features:

  • Host online conferences with thousands of attendees and multiple presenters
  • It works straight from your browser
  • Customize with your logo and colors to suit your business or event
  • Stream live on FaceBook and Youtube and reach new audiences through those channels
  • During Q&A sessions, use “question mode” to control your audience 
  • Translation feature allows attendees speaking a different language to participate
  • You can share your screen
  • Recording feature is available, making it ideal for record purposes and future analysis
  • A call-to-action feature, to increase productivity
  • Record up to 10 hours of meetings

Pricing:

Free: for 30 days

Live: $25

Automated: $40

Enterprise: Contact for more details


2. Skype

Skype

Skype has been around for a long time. It is online meetings platform that is trusted by brands and individuals alike for its reliability and security (thanks to the Microsoft brand name). Though skype is great for chat, its video conferencing capability is its most hyped feature.

Most people use the free version of skype, but paid options are available for meetings hosting 50 or more participants.

You need to download and install Skype on your computer, although the process is quite easy to follow. After installation, you can sync Skype to your address book, making it easy to access and call your contacts in one step.

The search feature allows you to find and invite anyone who is not in your contacts, to connect witty you.

Features:

  • Free for up to 50 people
  • You can chat, group chat, call or video
  • File sharing enables collaboration
  • It has versions for web and mobile
  • Skype has subtitles feature
  • You can call phone numbers from skype

Despite its popularity, Skype is a bit of a heavy app and may sometimes have unclear output on calls having many users.

Pricing:

Free for up to 50 participants. Otherwise, contact for more details


3. BlueJeans

BlueJeans

BlueJeans is an online meeting and video conferencing app trusted by enterprise brands like Facebook, LinkedIn, Zillow, among others. BlueJeans was acquired by Verizon in April 2020, a move that will see the app leverage Verizon’s 5G technology for better video conferencing.

Its analytics, live meeting controls, minute-taking and enterprise-level security are some of the features that make BlueJeans an enterprise meeting tool of choice for most.

Other features include:

  • One-touch-access allows users to join from their browser or device
  • It is integrable with more than 30 apps
  • Confiture to suit many meeting room systems
  • Make phone calls for free to more than 40 countries
  • Customize to suit your brand
  • Record meetings and save to the cloud

As with most enterprise-grade apps that host many users, video and audio quality may be unclear when using BlueJeans. However, the acquisition by Verizon may just fix this issue.

Pricing:

Standard: $9.99/month

Pro: $13.99/month

Enterprise: contact for pricing


4. Aira by Eduba

AIRA
Aira

Aira is an online meetings platform that offers quite a number of interesting features that make it unique. These include:  

  • Its Voice AI feature automatically records meetings. The AI continuously upgrades, enhancing performance and productivity
  • Recordings are available as transcriptions.  Therefore, you don’t have to miss out on meeting discussions or take minutes later on
  • Aira will attend multiple meetings for you, allowing you to still keep up with your busy schedule without missing out on important meeting details
  • Aira uses Zapier to integrate with your CRM
  • The analytics feature allows you to suggest ways to optimize future meetings and improve performance

To use Aira for online meetings, you can sign up for a free trial.

Pricing:

Available during the demo.


5. Blizz by TeamViewer

Blizz

The Blizz Collaboration Companion™ is a video, voice and instant messaging application created by TeamViewer.

TeamViewer specializes in providing remote support through cloud-based technologies to businesses around the world. Boasting installations on more than 2 billion devices, TeamViewer’s popularity as a collaboration tool is unquestionable. Blizz leverages some of TeamViewer’s features, allowing screen sharing and remote access to all your essential meeting and communication tools.

Features:

  • Blizz is free for up to 5 participants but has the capacity to support up to 300 people on one call.
  • It supports sharing on multiple 4K screens
  • Records calls and store in the cloud
  • It’s a secure application that uses 256-bit end-to-end encryption
  • Message indexing for easier tracking of conversations and ideas

One downside with Blizz is that it doesn’t support whiteboarding, which limits interactive use of shared documents during video conferencing.

Pricing (billed annually):

  • Free: for 5 users
  • Core: 6€ / Month
  • Crew: 14/€month
  • Company:19€/month

6. Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft teams is an ideal online meeting tool for large businesses, as it supports as many as 10,000 participants on one call.  Microsoft teams support chat, call, video and file sharing on iOS, Windows, Android and web, all while ensuring the privacy and security of participants.

Features:

  • Navigating within Microsoft team is easy; with just one click, you can for instance navigate from group chatting to video.
  • File sharing on Microsoft teams makes team collaboration easy even when traveling or away from your workstation, as you can access and edit relevant files through TeamViewer.
  • Powerful search,
  • Live training online
  • Task management

Although Microsoft Teams has great features, it does not do audio calls, nor does it integrate with third-party software.

Pricing (annual commitment):

  • Microsoft Teams (free): free
  • Microsoft 365 Business Basic: USD$5.00/ user/month
  • Microsoft 365 Business Standard: USD$12.50/ user/month
  • Office 365 E3: USD$20.00 user/month


7. Google Meet

Google Meet

Google Meet is a free service that started off as a secure meeting service for businesses. It is now open to everyone. Google Meet integrate with Gmail, google drive, docs and google calendar, letting you manage your video calls straight from your communication resources.

Features:

  • Live streaming on google meet supports up to 100,000 participants.
  • In addition to enjoying Google’s security feature, GoogleMeet benefits from extensive AI research by google, giving the app powerful abilities like adjusting to environmental noise, so that calls remain clear even in noisy environments.
  • GoogleMeet can adjust Performance to suit different network speeds. This ensures high quality calls in spite of network strength.
  • You don’t need to download googlemeet.
  • G Suite integration allows participants to join calls without internet

GoogleMeet is reasonably priced, making it ideal for a small budget

Pricing:

Free


8. GoToMeeting

GoToMeeting

GoToMeeting is an online meeting tool through which users can host or join audio or video meetings from anywhere. It works on MacOS, Windows OS and mobile.

GoToMeeting has a high price tag, making it suitable for enterprises or businesses that can meet the budget.

Features:

  • The GoToRoom kit allows you to turn your meeting room into a collaborative space.  
  • GoToMeeting helps you to fully leverage your video conferencing hardware
  • Integrate with third-party apps like google calendar, salesforce, or Office 365.
  • Use Siri voice commands
  • Enjoy unlimited meeting time with screen sharing and HD video
  • Get MP4 recordings of your meetings
  • Enjoy end to end security feature

Pricing:

Professional: $14/organizer/month

Business: $19/organizer /month

Enterprise: Call for details


9. Zoom

Zoom

Zoom only went public in 2019 and has in a very short time soared in popularity as online meetings and conferencing tool.

Features:

  • Zoom offers free 40-minute calls for up to 100 participants
  • It is intuitive and easy to use
  • You can hold video calls, voice and chat
  • You can share files and make presentations on zoom.
  • Video and audio quality on zoom is good even on slow connections
  • Supports dual screen sharing and HD video

One downside of zoom, according to the intercept, is that it does not offer end to end security encryption.

Pricing:

Basic personal meeting: Free

Pro: $14.99/mo/host

Business: $19.99 /mo/host

Enterprise: $19.99 /mo/host


10. EverWebinar

EverWebinar

EverWebinar is a reliable and fast online meeting platform that allows you to set up calls and webinars in as little as 3 minutes. it’s a great tool not just for meetings but also for offering live training and webinars.

EverWebinar can automate your trainings, all while giving your audience flexible scheduling options for specific dates, managing recurring events and managing time zones.

Other EverWebinar features include:

  • Manage all your chats, videos and statistics in one compact screen
  • Access all your communication and analytics safely and securely
  • Download previous chat history
  • Send notifications by email or sms

EverWebinar however requires a bit of time to learn the features but when you do, the ROI will be worth it. The testimonials on the app’s webpage bear this out.

Pricing:

Installment plan: 3x$199/year

Annual plan: $499/year

Biennial plan: $799/2 years


Final Words

That’s it for now.

There are many factors to consider when choosing the right software. But this list of 10, feature-rich online meetings apps has something for everyone, and should make doing business in 2020 and beyond a lot easier.