Question:  There are a number of video conferencing platforms. Which do you consider the best and how can I derive the most benefit from the virtual meetings?

Answer: As to which video platform is best, it all depends on who is your target audience. Zoom is by far the most widely used for both business and personal meetings. With the free version you get up to 40 minutes, with screen sharing and an option to record. The paid version offers unlimited group meetings and can accommodate up to 100 participants. The cost is nominal compared to other platforms.

Microsoft Teams is one that comes to mind for large organizations. It is closely integrated with other of the Microsoft suite of apps. With Teams you can host up to 250 members, with screen sharing and call recording bundled.

Before Zoom and Teams, many people used Skype. It is compatible with Windows, Mac and Android and can accommodate up to 50 participants. Features include both screen and document sharing.

Other video conferencing platforms include Google Meet, GoToMeeting, Join.me, and  Cisco Webex to name a few. Personally, I am more familiar with Zoom and have found it quite useful in working with my SCORE business clients.

In order to derive the most benefit from video conferencing with a group of students or co-workers, I suggest the following:

  • Plan and send your meeting agenda in advance to participants.
  • Thoroughly read and digest the user guide provided.
  • Purchase a quality headset with built in microphone.
  • Dress appropriately for the video session.
  • Ensure the room background is neat and lighting is adequate.
  • Turn off your cell phone.
  • Computer or mobile devices should incorporate antivirus and malware detection.
  • As host you are in control of the meeting. Mute all participants upon entering.
  • Tell participants to raise their hand if they wish to speak.
  • Be sure to record the meeting.
  • When conferencing with a client most of these suggestions also apply.

The current pandemic has precipitated an increased use of video conferencing. Employers have found it to be a viable alternative to travel and costly office space. It is reasonable to expect that many will continue to use these platforms after the pandemic has run its course.

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Gray Poehler is a volunteer with SCORE Naples. Business counseling on this and other business matters is available, without charge, from the Naples Chapter of SCORE. Call (239) 430-0081 or visit https://naples.score.org/mentors .The SCORE business office is located at 900 Goodlette Road North, in the Fifth Third branch bank building.