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Online Tools for Content Creation and Virtual Meetings

Virtual meetings are an important part of any business, but the cost of equipment and software can be a barrier to entry. When done well, however, virtual meetings have many benefits- from better retention to allowing in both students and staff who might otherwise need to stay home. Take some time to play with these tools to make sure your next meeting is great!

From free, interactive tools for virtual meetings to best-in-class equipment for videoconferencing and live streaming, we have the solution for you. Interactive tools, design templates, and more to make virtual meetings more efficient, more effective—and more fun.

While there was [the] initial cost for this software, the fact that it can be used for future presentations is a huge benefit. The president of the meeting I created the meeting for has stated that she feels this is one of the coolest tools she has ever used and that we need to continue investing in programs like this one.

Online tools are a great way to create content and meet virtually with your students or colleagues. In this session you’ll see some great examples of popular tools, and you’ll get to try out some of these tools yourself.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Virtual Meetings

While setting up or joining a virtual meeting isn’t difficult to do (all you need is Internet, audio, and video), ensuring that your meeting is successful requires a little bit more know-how than that. To start, it’s a good idea to understand what virtual meetings can and can’t do, as well as the problems they present for anyone who attends.

When your team receives an invitation to a virtual meeting, there are several things going through their head, including all of those not-so great thoughts, including:

  • “I have so much going on today! How can I stop what I’m doing and focus on this meeting?”
  • “Don’t they know we have more important stuff that needs to get done?”
  • “Why do I have to attend the meeting? What am I really supposed to be doing when I join?”
  • I never have a chance to talk during these meetings. So what’s the point?”

Bizzabo Stream

Bizzabo Stream - Virtual event tools

Source: Bizzabo

Bizzabo Stream is a popular Bizzabo offering. Bizzabo Stream is great for sessions that require scale, broadcasting, and highly produced presentations. And it has no limit, meaning potentially tens of thousands of attendees can tune in to access your content. Stream is perfect for keynotes, webinars, product demos, hybrid sessions, and large panels.

 Bizzabo Interact 

Bizzabo Interact - Virtual event tools

Source: Bizzabo

Bizzabo Interact is another one of Bizzabo’s most-used platforms. Bizzabo Interact allows up to 300 attendees to engage, network, and have open discussions. This tool is perfect for a workshop, roundtables, fireside chats, happy hour, L&D classes, small breakout rooms, and small internal meetings.

Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts - Virtual event tools

Source: Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts is one of the most familiar video and meeting tools available, and it makes connecting virtually easy for event planners, speakers, and attendees. Google Hangouts offers direct messaging, group chats, video, and emojis. It’s perfect for collaboration and a good option for small, internal virtual events.

 Microsoft Teams

microsoft teams - Virtual event tools

Source: Stitchdx

Microsoft Teams (formally Skype for Business Online) is a great tool that makes remote collaboration easy. Features like group chat, one-to-one messaging, video conferencing, and sharing and editing documents all help to accelerate teamwork and spark creativity.

Microsoft Teams is a great collaboration tool for event organizers working remotely or those that are putting together an internal meeting with different business groups.

Slack

This team messaging tool brings all types of communication together seamlessly, eliminating the need for long email threads and links. Slack users report a 49 percent reduction in internal email, helping them streamline work and become more productive. Team conversations can be organized into open or private channels for particular departments or projects. The app, which can be loaded onto both computers and mobile devices, integrates with all social media platforms, as well as file sharing programs such as Dropbox. Users simply drag, drop and share images, PDFs, documents and spreadsheets. Colleagues can add comments or flag messages for future reference, and the completely searchable platform instantly synchs with other programs. The basic plan is free; three paid upgrades offer enhanced features and controls. Special pricing is available for qualified nonprofits.

Join.me

This versatile, easy-to-use program can be loaded onto desktop computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones. Join.me allows up to 10 individuals to view your screen at the same time, fostering collaboration for idea generation, sales demos and presentations. The online tool ranked No. 1 in customer satisfaction for ease of use, speed, and reliability in a 2014 survey, and was used to facilitate 30 million meetings last year. The affordable program has three levels. The free version features instant screen sharing and video conferencing with VoIP; Pro adds online meetings with unlimited audio conferencing and costs less than $20 per month with an annual contract; while Enterprise offers advanced management capabilities and costs less than $25 monthly with an annual contract.

Dropbox

dropbox1

Dropbox co-founder Drew Houston developed the Dropbox concept in 2007 after repeatedly forgetting his USB flash drive while he was a student at MIT. Simple and easy to use, the file hosting service has won many awards. Offering cloud storage and file synchronization, it can house documents, photos and videos. Your team can access this material from anywhere, as the material will automatically show up on all synched devices, as well as the Dropbox website. The tool is particularly helpful for sharing large files and backups. A basic account featuring two GB of free online storage and 20 GB of traffic per day is free; users can upgrade their accounts to provide more capacity. For Pro and Business accounts, the limit is 200 GB per day.

Google Drive

Launched in 2012, Google Drive is a file storage and synchronization service created by Google that allows users to store files in the cloud, share files and edit documents, spreadsheets, presentations photos and audio files. Many view it as the king of real-time document collaboration. Individuals can write and edit on the same document, at the same time, with chat and comment features. All changes are automatically saved. Users can access the documents anywhere, at any time, from their smartphones, tablets or computers. The program is compatible with Microsoft Word, providing editing and styling tools for formatting text and paragraphs. Links, images, drawings and tables can be added. Users get 15 free GB of storage that is shared across three of its most used services: Google Drive, Gmail and Google+ Photos. If that is not enough, they can purchase more storage for a monthly fee.

FaceTime

FaceTime is a video chatting tool for Apple users. With a simple tap, users can make video calls over Wi-Fi from their iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or Mac desktop or laptop to someone else’s, using cameras on the devices. Availability over a cellular network depends on carrier policies, and data charges may apply. The picture-in-picture view allows individuals to see how they appear to the person they are calling, using the front or rear camera, in portrait or landscape mode. Although groups can gather around the Mac screen or integrate the power of Apple TV, FaceTime does not support group conferencing. Unfortunately, FaceTime is incompatible with non-Apple devices. Alternatives for Android users include Google Hangouts, Skype and Viber.

Skype

Skype, which was founded in 2003 and is headquartered in Luxembourg, is a division of Microsoft Corp. Many consider it the granddaddy of videoconferencing tools, and millions use the tool on a daily basis to network with colleagues around the world. The app can be loaded onto smartphones, computers or even televisions that will support it. Free HD video calls can be made and broadcast to groups of up to 25 individuals; Skype can also be used for group chats. Photos and files of all sizes can be transmitted using the tool. Skype to Skype calls are free, anywhere in the world. Calls to mobile and landlines worldwide are charged at low rates. The program supports instant messaging, texts and emojis. A special translator feature allows users chatting with someone who speaks another language to translate calls and instant messages.

Zoom

Zoom-1

One of the most popular online communication software tools, Zoom does a great job at providing excellent video meetings at a price that works for almost everyone. From free to more expensive monthly fees for bigger companies needing more options, Zoom is quickly becoming the software of choice for virtual meetings to take place. Just be sure all attendees know that they need to download the app before they can take part in your meeting.

Join.Me

Join Me

An excellent option for virtual meetings and screen sharing, Join.Me gives you the option to have a personalized URL, as well as other custom details, like backgrounds. More importantly, Join.Me helps attendees engage with each other thanks to its unique whiteboard feature.

GoToMeeting

GoToMeeting

Although Zoom is skyrocketing to the forefront of virtual meetings, GoToMeeting has been around even longer. Yes, you’ll pay a fee to use the tool, but there’s no cap on the number of meetings you can have. The only issue GoToMeeting hasn’t quite figured out is how to make downloading the app easy. Right now, the process continues to be somewhat cumbersome.

Asana

Asana-1

When it comes time to assign projects and keep track of who’s doing what, Asana is a great online tool to leverage. If your team is smaller than 15 people, it’s completely free to use, making it the perfect gathering place for your team to stay organized and in touch.

Periscope

Periscope is a live streaming app for iOS and Android. Users broadcast live video from their phones, in real time. Planners could use it for a live interview that is then streamed to Twitter. During a conference, the planner could give those who could not attend the event a taste of what they missed.

5 Steps to a Successful Virtual Meeting

1. Stay focused on the purpose of your meeting.

Having a meeting just for the sake of meeting is never a good idea, even if it’s just in person. Sure, other topics are bound to come up when you meet with your team — and that can be great! But not having a real focus can make your meetings feel chaotic and lengthy, especially when they’re virtual.

By knowing what your intention for the meeting is, you can set expectations appropriately. You can also prep for the meeting, selecting the tools you need to best meet your goals. For example, if you want your team to actively collaborate during your virtual meeting, you’ll want to leverage secondary tech tools, like mind-maps and visual notes, to facilitate this.

2. Set expectations for your meeting.

A lot of virtual meeting facilitators walk away from a meeting feeling disappointed. And, to be honest, a lot of attendees feel the same way. A big reason for this is that there are no clear expectations set prior to the meeting.

For example, if you want everyone who attends to engage, make it clear that they need to be in an environment where they don’t have to be muted. Even setting dress code expectations can help. You’ll also want to be clear about the kind of behavior you want to see during the virtual meeting. If obvious distractions, like texting or getting up in the middle of the meeting, aren’t going to fly, make sure your attendees know.

One of the biggest problems with virtual meetings is that people don’t feel connected. And, when they feel invisible, they don’t realize that they can’t do certain things — like show up in pajamas, eat lunch, or just clearly not be paying attention. Set your expectations clearly and in the beginning so that there is no confusion.

3. Help attendees feel heard with a Team Facilitator.

Virtual meetings can leave some team members feeling invisible, which is why assigning someone to the role of Team Facilitator can be a game changer. This facilitator is responsible for making sure that the conversation stays on track, people aren’t interrupted, and that everyone who wanted to say something gets a chance. This individual can also help create a healthy environment for virtual meetings by suggesting short breaks for long meetings and by being the voice for attendees.

4. Increase involvement with specific assignments.

To help attendees understand what their role is during a virtual meeting, it can be a good idea to assign other roles, too. Giving people responsibilities, like being the timekeeper, notetaker, or tech support expert, increases involvement and helps to keep virtual meetings running smoothly. From staying on schedule to organizing questions, notes, and big takeaways for everyone to review, these roles help to guide the meeting and everyone who’s in it.

5. Do a “dry-run” with all technology to avoid major issues.

The more familiar you are with the tech you’re using, the better your virtual meeting will be. Period. If tech isn’t your best friend, this is where a tech support expert on your team can help. They can help get everything up and running and troubleshoot quickly during a meeting if something does go wrong.

Conclusion

Online tools for content creation are speeding up the content creation process and helping businesses get ahead of competition. Find out which theories apply to interactivity and design, and why they work, to increase user retention and conversion of visitors into buyers. Discover free interactive tools that make it easy to build complex interactive diagrams and flowcharts.

Online tools for content creation and virtual meetings are designed for better communication, less room for confusion and lack of team work. These tools have been tested by professionals to work well with various kinds of businesses such as construction, publishing, oil and gas and other industries.

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