Every distributed team relies on a virtual meeting app to keep daily communication flowing. The technology is essential to day-to-day operations, such as hosting meetings and fostering team collaboration. However, the friction that comes from many of these tools — such as video lag, rough audio, and unreliable connections — can make it difficult to stay productive.
Since many of our team members work remotely, we've assessed various virtual meeting apps and know their strengths and weaknesses. Depending on your needs, any of these four virtual meeting apps could be a great fit for your team.
Virtual Meeting Apps For Distributed Teams: Top Features To Look For
A lot of virtual meeting apps on the market will fulfill everyday, basic professional needs. You can place calls, host meetings, and schedule time with peers and clients. But as remote work becomes the standard for many teams, more reliable communication tools will be necessary.
The most popular communication tools are already ahead of the curve, releasing new features and benefits that make remote work smoother and seamless.
Zoom is a web conferencing tool used for enterprise video communications. The cloud-based platform is used by companies like HubSpot for their team to conduct video and audio conferencing, as well as webinars.
A few benefits of Zoom include:
- You can quickly access Zoom from your laptop, desktop, or mobile phone.
- Zoom has easy-to-use, intuitive features like instant messaging, file sharing, whiteboarding, screen sharing, and call recording.
- Zoom has a free version that allows 40 minutes of video calling at a time. From there, the cost is per user.
Zoom also has additional functionality around webinar hosting.
"I think the conference call feature is perfect. I used this feature to bring in multiple team members from all over the country for a conference call. Video and sound quality were perfect even while using the free version, which allows 40 minutes of video chat with up to 100 people." says Jessica, Zoom user.
2. Google Hangouts
Google Hangouts is a popular tool to hold voice and video conversations from your computer or phone.
If you use Google Hangouts, you can easily:
- Integrate hangouts with Gmail and other Google products.
- Sign-up, download, and get started with chat and conferencing for free.
- Send messages, texts, hold a group chat, or place a video call.
- Have up to 10 people in a call at the same time.
"Google Hangouts has saved me a lot of communication costs, including making calls and sending offline text messages to get the progress updates. As such, to me, Google Hangouts is cost-effective since the user will only incur internet charges cost, and enjoy limitless communication with fellow mates and peers." writes Olivia, Google Hangouts user.
Google Hangouts is a versatile tool that even educators are using to bring people into the classroom virtually, such as Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah Gbowee.
GoToMeeting is a popular web conferencing app and an industry leader in virtual communication.
A few benefits of GoToMeeting include:
- It's browser-based, so there are no software installations to get started, just a code.
- You can plug in integrations with 3rd party tools such as Zapier, Chrome, Google Calendar, and more.
- GoToMeeting fulfills HIPAA compliance and is based upon the HIPAA Security Standards.
- There are whiteboarding and screen recording functionality.
"This is one of the well-designed tools to conduct remote meetings via audio, screen sharing, and video calls in the market. I like the fact that this tool integrates well with Chrome, Google Calendar, and other software, making my work in the office easier and effective." details Koech K., GoToMeeting user.
GoToMeeting uses their tool to hold live Q&A sessions. Teams can come together and cover a variety of topics with their audience.
Slack is a messaging platform first. Users can create channels and use Slack as their primary form of communication. Then, there are additional audio and video features where you can hold meetings and conduct calls.
The top features of Slack include:
- Slack stores up to 10K messages.
- You can hold one-on-one calls or invite an entire channel to join a call.
- You can also install the mobile app to check messages and make calls.
- There are many integrations to choose from, including fun features like .gifs and emoticons.
"Slack is one of the best available software for people working in teams. It allows you to have a well-organized conversation with your team members and share your work and exchange files easily." explains Mohammad M, Slack user.
You can also annotate notes during a video call and draw on the screen while sharing it, which can help make presentations more effective. If you've tried Slack already and want another option, a common comparison to make would be for Slack vs. Microsoft Teams.
Improving Communication For Remote Teams
For remote teams, choosing the right virtual meeting app is just a part of the puzzle. To facilitate better communication and collaboration, teams need to implement the right processes alongside reliable technology. It's also important to understand the factors that go into working productively as a remote team. It's critical to minimize distractions, have one designated virtual HQ, and to invest in tools with more robust, advanced features.
What If Video Conferencing Apps Had Spatial Audio?
Watch the video below, preferably with headphones on (but you'll hear the difference with desktop or laptop speakers, too). We set up a Zoom call and a meeting with High Fidelity's Spatial Audio at the same time and simultaneously captured audio.
Over the course of the day, it really makes a difference in reducing fatigue and enjoying conversations during meetings, events, and other virtual gatherings. What is the science behind spatial audio? Learn more here.