Online meeting services and tools have been multiplying at a breakneck pace. Just like the rest of technology — these gadgets can make life easier. But there are some considerations to ponder in order to make the best decisions, as I’ve outlined below.
1. Understand your needs. Before I even begin to look at an online meeting tool – I think about how many people will be there, where they are located, and what the meeting is about. For example, if it’s just a casual office meeting, I don’t need to commit to using a service that needs to impress anyone. So I can do a trial run and use a free service. Free is always good in those cases!
2. Get some recommendations. Check with colleagues and clients for some good programs. Ask about free ones and those that accommodate large groups. Find out all the features and ask why they liked a service and what was lacking.
3. Ramp it up for the big fish. If I’m planning on a meetapalooza, I really take the time to choose something I know is going to work. It’s gotta have all the bells and whistles so I don’t look stupid, because that’s never good, especially when you’re courting new business.
4. List out the features you want. For example, maybe you’d like to collaborate on an iPad from a networking event. One time, we didn’t have the funds to attend an event, so we sent someone down there to cover it in real time, so it was very cool. Almost as good as being there. Actually, better, because I didn’t have to sit in traffic. My feet also thanked me.
Finally, always test out any online meeting service or tool you are considering. Use it in real time to see what you’ll be dealing with. Otherwise, you could have delays and things that could have been avoided if you’d known about them. Try as many services as you can, ask for feedback and take good notes before making any kind of commitment. Sometimes free services are free for a reason!