Apr 6

Choosing the right platform for virtual meetings

The isolation caused by the current stay at home order has prompted people to find safe ways to maintain face-to-face connections. One of these ways is through virtual meetings. Virtual meetings are becoming an increasingly popular communication tool for personal and professional interactions. In fact, according to Google Cloud President Thomas Kurian, the daily usage of Google Hangouts is 25 times what it was in January.

Phone calls can get the job done, but it’s evident people and organizations are making the transition to virtual meetings to help maintain face-to-face interactions. There’s something more enjoyable about seeing a coworker or relative’s face instead of just hearing voices.

There are dozens of virtual meeting platforms available for organizations to use – the hard part is choosing which one is the right fit for you.

Below are a few questions to ask yourself before you begin researching virtual meeting platforms.

What Features Do I Need?

Before choosing a virtual meeting platform, it’s important to step back and develop a list of must-have features. You should think through every requirement to avoid committing to a platform you end up ditching after a few uses. Every organization has different needs – here’s a list of questions to ask yourself before beginning your research:

  • How many users do I need?
  • Do I need additional tools such as text chatting and file sharing?
  • Will I be using the platform to meet with external stakeholders?
  • Do I need a mobile app?
  • Does the platform need to integrate with third-party applications?
  • Does the platform offer timely technical support?
  • Will I want recording and preservation capabilities?

How Private Is It?

Similar to other online platforms, privacy is a top concern. Because virtual meeting platforms rely on the internet to send information, there are underlying risks involved. You want to make sure you select a platform that won’t make you second guess your security every time you launch a meeting. Be sure to check the platform’s privacy and security policies before making a decision.

Unfortunately, due to the recent spike, virtual meetings have become targets for internet trolls and hackers. “Zoom-bombing” is the new term for strangers sharing inappropriate content and even taking over Zoom meetings. There have been cases around the United States of Zoom-bombing occurring during municipal meetings, virtual classroom sessions and company meetings.

Hijacking has become so common that the FBI issued a press release warning people about potential video conference hijacking and cybersecurity breaches. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel recently put out her own warning, too. However, there are ways to create an extra layer of security. Both press releases include steps on how to help mitigate hijacks.

How Much Does It Cost?

Cost is a large factor to consider when choosing a platform – especially for small organizations, nonprofits and municipalities. Most virtual meeting platforms offer free subscriptions that give a set number of users and limited access to their services.

Try out a few free platforms and note what you like and what you don’t. It’s common for features to sound better on paper but end up being cumbersome once you launch the platform and begin implementation.

How Simple Is It?

Technology is intended to make our lives easier. If a platform isn’t simple to get up and running with just a few clicks, it often won’t get used.

Be sure to do your research on each platform’s interface before making a commitment. Most platforms have a robust library of videos that demonstrate how to navigate the interface and launch meetings. Getting a first-hand look at the platform is often much more revealing when compared to reading a list of features on a webpage.

The platform’s simplicity isn’t just important for you – it’s important for your external stakeholders. You want to avoid choosing a platform that has others scratching their head when you send a meeting invite. Similar to what I mentioned above, you want your stakeholders to be able to launch your virtual meetings with just a few clicks.

Ready to choose a platform that is right for you? In her latest blog, Lisa shares a list of popular virtual meeting platforms and their features. Check it out to learn more about which platform might be right for your organization.

What are your favorite virtual meeting platforms?

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