Beyond Zoom: Our Guide to the Top Virtual Meeting Platforms

With most in-person meetings and corporate retreats on hold, we’ve all had to adjust to the new normal of screen time and ring lights. As companies plan a return to work, it’s almost certain that virtual meetings will become a bigger part of business as usual going forward. Zoom has been one of the breakout stars of 2020, but other virtual networking companies bring their own strengths and weaknesses to doing business online. Just like some real-world meetings are better in a boardroom and others at a restaurant, there are different uses for various virtual meeting platforms. Here’s how five of the leaders measure up.

ZOOM

Pros: The industry standard, Zoom is easy to use across a wide range of devices and has reliable technology that produces good-quality video with relatively little lag. Its meeting and webinar functions really shine with large groups, and it offers recording (with the host’s permission) and one-touch mobile dialing. Zoom’s virtual backgrounds are also a lot of fun, and its free plan is adequate for most businesses.

Cons: Some security concerns have come up. “Zoombombing,” where uninvited people access private meetings due to poor design choices that made insecure meetings a default option, was an issue before the company made some fixes. Some of the company’s workforce is based in China, which has been a sticking point for companies with heightened national security and other sensitivities.

GOOGLE MEET

Pros: A native Google product that is automatically integrated with the Google accounts that so many companies use, Google Meet also has a simple interface, the ability to record to Google Drive, and one-touch mobile dialing. For organizations that use Google accounts (and particularly those that use Google Chat), using Google Meet for video calls is the simplest solution.

Cons: Video quality tends to be inferior to Zoom, and there is significantly less functionality. 

CISCO WEBEX

Pros: Cisco is a trusted name in security, and WebEx has been the platform of choice among companies with these sensitivities, particularly those that work with the United States government. WebEx is also loaded with functionality, including whiteboards and document sharing.

Cons: WebEx is somewhat pricey and may not make sense for many small businesses.

MICROSOFT TEAMS

Pros: Like Google Meet, Teams is the easiest solution for companies that use the Microsoft Office 365 ecosystem, making it easy to collaborate on Excel spreadsheets, Word documents, and the like. 

Cons: The interface is not very intuitive, and if your company isn’t Microsoft based, other options will likely make more sense.

APPLE FACETIME

Pros: Everyone with a newer iPhone or Mac has this software preinstalled, and it is by far the easiest and shortest path to conducting a video call among people with these devices. If you have a regular one-on-one meeting with a less tech-savvy person who has an iPhone, FaceTime is the easiest tool.

Cons: FaceTime is intended for video phone calls, not meetings, and has limited functionality and a clunky interface once you get into meetings with three or more participants. It’s much more useful for one-on-ones or ad hoc check-in calls than a team meeting with a robust agenda.


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