Web Conferencing Service Reviews
The Best Web Conferencing Services
When searching for the best web conferencing service, it can be difficult with so many options out there. Out of 104 services, our team finds 11 of them that stand out amongst the rest. ClickMeeting leads the pack with its powerful features.
What we love best is that you can personalize the layout of your conference room. Even better, if you don’t like any of the options, you can just create your own. Additionally, you can do everything on your phone with their mobile app which is perfect for travelers. To add a personalized touch, ClickMeeting allows you to rebrand to represent your organization how you see fit. If those features don’t have you sold yet, ClickMeeting’s built-in polling tools make it effortless to receive feedback from participants.
If you’re looking for a quality web conferencing service but have limited finances, Fuze is your answer. Fuze’s free plan is ideal for any small business and ranks as our top choice. There is no cost for meetings with 25 participants or less. You can share files, computer screens, and individual applications all for price of $0.
Choosing the right web conferencing service for you
All of the web conferencing services listed above enable easy communication and collaboration between team members. However, some companies stand out more than others in one particular area, so those looking for a specific type of video conferencing software should begin with the lists below.
How we chose the best web conferencing services
We compiled a list of 104 web conferencing services and chose 11 of the best to review based on 68 of the most important features.
What web conferencing features matter and why
Communication and Collaboration
Communication and Collaboration encompasses all of the tools within the meeting space that help participants share ideas with one another. The most basic of these tools are audio and video conferencing, which enable participants to see and hear what others are saying. Chat is another common fixture of the online meeting space and useful for asking questions or communicating privately with another individual. Screen, application, and file sharing are great for helping get everyone on the same page when talking about a project.
Take that one step further and control another’s computer remotely, making real-time changes to the file on their computer. Audience polls and attendee feedback, such as the opportunity to raise their hands when they have a question, keeps participants active and engaged in the discussion.
This is one of the most important categories because it contains many of the features that are vital to running a successful online meeting.
The most important communication and collaboration features
- Application Sharing – You can show just a single application on your computer to other participants in the meeting.
- Attendee Feedback – Attendees can give you feedback by raising their virtual hands, agreeing or disagreeing with you, and more.
- Audio Conferencing – You can host audio-only conferences through the service.
- Group Chat – A chat box is built in to the online meeting room.
- Polls – You can poll meeting attendees to encourage participation and collaboration.
- Private Chat – You can have a private conversation with another meeting participant.
- Remote Control – You can control another participant’s computer remotely through the service.
- Screen Sharing – You can show your computer desktop to other participants in the meeting.
- Shared Notes – You can create a document for notes that other participants can edit as well.
- Share Files – You can upload, store, and download files used in meetings.
- Share Multimedia – You can share picture, video, and audio files through the web conferencing service.
- Speaker Identification – The service informs you of who is speaking at all times.
- Video Conferencing – You can host video conferences through the service.
- Whiteboard – You can create a whiteboard and use it for collaborating in real time.
Meeting Setup is a fairly important category that details the types of meetings a customer can set up and the tools available to help them prepare for it. Almost all web conferencing services enable users to start meetings right away or schedule one for a later date. Email invitations are sent out once the meeting has been set up, and the best web conferencing services also send out reminder emails to all participants, letting them know the meeting is about to start. Some services even dial out directly to participants when the meeting begins, so they don’t have to connect to the meeting on their own.
These tools are very important because they’re critical to getting a meeting up and running, so this is a category that’s definitely worth paying close attention to.
The most important meeting setup
- Call Me – The web conferencing service calls you and automatically connects you to your meeting when it is about to start.
- Email Invitations – The web conferencing service sends out email invitations to the people you select.
- On-Demand Meetings – You can set up a meeting to begin immediately.
- Presenter-Only Area – You can share information with other presenters in a private area of the meeting room.
- Reminder Emails – The web conferencing service sends out emails reminding participants that a meeting is coming up.
- Scheduled Meetings – You can schedule meetings for a later date.
Accessibility explains the different devices a customer can use to join online meetings. This is a relatively important category, particularly for companies with employees who frequently travel or work remotely. Perhaps the most important feature in this category is the ability to join a meeting without downloading any software, which makes it faster and easier to host a web conference.
Mobile apps are typically available for Apple and Android devices, and the best companies also provide apps for BlackBerrys. Many web conferencing services enable participants to join a web meeting from a landline as well. They won’t be able to see any video or documents being shared, but they will be able to hear and participate in the discussions.
The most important accessibility features
- Android – You can attend and host online meetings from an Android device.
- BlackBerry – You can attend and host online meetings from a BlackBerry device.
- iPad – You can attend and host online meetings from an iPad.
- iPhone – You can attend and host online meetings from an iPhone.
- Landline – You can join an online meeting from a landline.
- No Software Download – You can join an online meeting directly from your Internet browser, without downloading any software.
Host Controls discusses the methods in which a presenter or host is able to control the abilities of the other participants during a meeting. If one participant is being noisy, the host has the option to mute that particular line so no one else can hear them. Listen-only mode is a better solution for times when only the presenter or host is speaking. Hosts also have the ability to add or remove participants while the meeting is in progress, and to promote someone to presenter.
This category is another worth paying attention to because these controls are useful for keeping a meeting running smoothly. Many companies do well in this category, though, so it may not be of critical importance.
The most important host control features
- Add/Remove Participants – The host can quickly add or remove someone from the conversation mid-meeting.
- Change Presenters – The host can change presenters mid-meeting.
- Listen-Only Mode – The host can mute all participants except for the presenter.
- Mute/Unmute – The host can control which participants are able to speak and which aren’t.
Meeting Follow-Up contains the tools the web conferencing service provides for staying connected to participants after the meeting is over. Reports offer data about recent meeting sessions and a document library lets participants access shared files after the meeting concludes. Some teleconferencing services also give hosts the chance to send out follow-up emails to their participants, thanking them for their attendance or providing additional information. Not every company will have a need for these resources, but those that do should take a closer look at this category.
The most important meeting follow-up features
- Document Library – You can access documents and files shared during the meeting, even after the meeting is over.
- Follow-Up Email – You can send out follow-up messages to participants after the meeting.
- Reports – You can generate reports about recent meeting sessions or specific users.
Security lists the tools the web conferencing software offers for keeping your meetings secure and private. The most common of these tools is SSL encryption, which helps prevent hackers from accessing the information shared during the meeting. For additional security, hosts may also add a password to the meeting space that participants must enter before they’re admitted.
Finally, hosts are able to adjust user privileges as required, choosing which meeting rooms they’re able to enter and whether they are able to present information to others during the meeting. Security is often a top concern for businesses, so this is a category you should pay close attention to.
The most important security features
- Password Protection – You can require participants to enter a password in order to enter the meeting room.
- SSL Encryption – The web conferencing service uses SSL encryption to keep your meetings and shared documents private.
- User Privileges – You can control the privileges of individual attendees.
Support refers to the different ways consumers can contact the web conferencing provider should questions or problems arise. Phone support is the best bet for getting quick assistance. Live chat is also an option, though not every company offers it. For questions that don’t necessitate an immediate answer, try sending an email or reaching out to the company on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media platforms.
This category is relatively important because if an issue arises with the service, particularly during an online meeting, it’s crucial to get the problem solved as quickly as possible. However, it shouldn’t be a make-or-break category, as the majority of companies offer several different methods of support.
The most important support features
- Email – The company has an email or ticket system dedicated to support.
- Live Chat – The company offers live chat support.
- Phone – You can contact the company by phone to get support.
- Social Media – You can contact the company with questions through social media websites.
Customization lists the options available for customizing the online meeting space to align with a company’s theme. Most services enable customers to upload a company logo, which is displayed in the meeting room as well as on the sign-in and waiting-room pages.
A few companies take this one step further and give their customers the opportunity to customize the colors of the meeting space. Adding a custom URL is also another easy way to brand the online meeting room. Though rare, some companies also let their customers personalize the look of their conference space by adding, deleting, or moving certain tools and saving desired layouts for use in later meetings.
These customizations are useful for developing a web meeting space that fits with a company’s image, but these features aren’t central to a web conferencing service, so this category isn’t weighed as much as some of the others.
The most important customization features
- Custom Colors – You can change the colors or design of the online meeting space to match your company’s theme.
- Custom Layouts – You can organize the meeting space in whatever way you like.
- Custom Logo – You can upload your company logo to your web conferencing account.
- Custom URLs – You can set up a unique web address for your online meeting space.
Learning Materials encompasses the online resources provided by the web conferencing company to assist customers in understanding how to use the service. These resources come in many different forms including FAQs, video tutorials, knowledge bases, and detailed user guides. The best web conferencing providers also offer live webinars to introduce new customers to the video conferencing software. Forums are good places to turn to if none of these other resources have the answer.
While these materials are useful to those who are new to online meetings, they aren’t critical components of a web conferencing service, so this category isn’t as important as some of the others.
The most important learning materials
- FAQs – The company provides a list of answers to frequently asked questions.
- Forum – The company provides an interactive forum where users can post questions and answers.
- Knowledge Base – The company provides a knowledge base of detailed help articles.
- Live Webinars – Live webinars are provided are provided by the company.
- User Guide – A user guide or training manual is provided by the company.
- Video Tutorials – The company provides video tutorials.
Recording describes the resources that are available for recording and sharing meetings with others. Recording a meeting is often as simple as clicking the record button upon entering the online conference room. When it’s finished, click the stop button.
Most video conferencing software makes meeting recordings available for download, so it’s easy to upload it to the Internet for others to see. Individuals with the link can also view the saved meeting directly from the web conferencing service.
The best online meeting software has editing tools as well, which is useful for cutting a video to show only the most important parts. The opportunity to record, edit, and share your videos is useful for including participants who weren’t able to attend the meeting, but it isn’t a feature every business is going to use, so this category might not be as critical as some of the others.
The most important recording features
- Edit Recordings – You can edit your recordings of your meetings.
- Record Meetings – You can record and save your meetings for later viewing.
- Share Recordings – You can share the recordings of your meetings with others.
Service Plans describe the types of plans and contracts offered by the web conferencing service provider. The best companies offer contract-free plans, and some give discounts to organizations who are willing to commit to a one-year term when they sign up. Free trials are pretty common in this industry, though their lengths vary, depending on the company. This is a good way to determine whether the software is a good fit for a specific organization.
Another thing small businesses may want to look into is the availability of a free plan. Usually these plans restrict the number of participants to just a few and sometimes limit the available features, but they are definitely an option worth considering, as it can save a business quite a bit of money. This category gives a good overview of what types of plans a company has to offer, so it’s something to keep an eye on while researching.
The most important service plan features
- Free Plan – The company offers free service plans.
- Free Trial – You can try out the web conferencing service for a few weeks before committing to a purchase.
- No Contract – You can get web conferencing service without signing a contract.
- No Long-Term Contract – You can get web conferencing service without signing a contract longer than one year.
Third-Party Integration describes the different types of software the web conferencing service integrates with. Microsoft Outlook integration is common, giving customers the opportunity to schedule meetings directly from their email inbox. Some of the top companies also offer more advanced integrations with social media, Google Apps, or popular CRM software. APIs are available for creating custom integrations that work with existing services.
This category isn’t as important as some of the others, but those looking to integrate their video conferencing software with other services they already use will want to pay close attention to this category.
The most important third-party integration features
- API – An application programming interface (API) is available.
- CRM Software – The service integrates with CRM software, such as Salesforce.
- Google Apps – The service integrates with Google Calendar and other Google Apps.
- Microsoft Outlook – You can schedule online meetings and send out invitations through Microsoft Outlook.
- Social Media – The service integrates with popular social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.