The 5 Best Online Meeting Tools

Free and paid services for web conferencing and webinars

Online meetings are only as good as the software they are conducted in. This is why it’s so important that people planning an online meeting consider all of their needs before settling on a tool. With so many options in the market, it may be difficult to go through every single product available; this is why I’ve chosen the best five tools that you should check out. Always remember that if you’re in doubt between a few programs, you can and should ask for a free trial.

1. Adobe Connect ProAdobe is the well-known company that has brought us Flash, a widely used online video format. Connect Pro is one of Adobe’s lesser known products, however, it is still a solid choice when it comes to online meetings.

It is not for the beginner user because even though it has a beautiful interface, it can be difficult to use due to its large number of features and the fact that it takes a while to really get to know them. Users can create polls, access meetings from an iPhone or iPod Touch, video conference and easily share a variety of media. In fact, this is the most feature-rich tool I have encountered. For example, it allows multiple meeting rooms, which can be branded diffrerently but share content. In addition, this is great software for a larger meeting, since it can accommodate up to 200 people.

Adobe does not publish the price for its Connect Pro edition, as it can vary depending on the licensing model chosen.

2. Dimdim – This is a relatively new online meeting tool. Compared to competitors, it is a great value for the money as it is loaded with useful features like VoIP and screen sharing. As it is based on your web browser, there are no compatibility issues with your operating system, so it doesn’t matter whether you are on a PC, Mac or Linux.

The software has a free version for meetings of up to 20 participants. However, if you need to host more people, there is the option to go Pro. On this version, meetings may have up to 50 people and can be branded.

Dimdim also offers larger meeting options, which accommodate up to 1,000 people. It is the most user-friendly online meeting tool, with an easy to navigate interface that is highly intuitive. What’s more, hosts can customize the entire meeting room, so it is useful and interesting for attendees.

The Pro version of the product costs $25 per month, per user.

3. GoToMeeting – Made by Citrix Online, GoToMeeting is an online meeting program specifically useful for small companies.

It supports meetings of up to 15 people and allows for meeting recording, screen sharing and chatting between participants. In its Corporate version, meetings can have up to 25 people. While the user interface isn’t very attractive, GoToMeeting is great at being very intuitive and extremely easy to use, so it takes very little time to get to know the program’s capabilities and features. One downside is that before a meeting can start, attendees need to download a client so they can access all of the software’s features.

This can take a bit of time, delaying the meeting.

GoToMeeting costs $49 per month per user, for meetings with up to 15 people.

4. Microsoft Office Live Meeting – Along with WebEx, this is perhaps one of the best-known online meeting tools. Its functionality spans from basic meetings all the way to web conferences and even online learning sessions. Unlike GoToMeeting, for example, meeting attendees do not have to download a client in order to gain the software’s basic functionality, so joining a meeting is quick and easy. 

The software includes an Outlook add-on that lets users schedule online meetings the same way as face-to-face ones, so if you are familiar with Outlook, setting up meetings with LiveMeeting will be second nature. While the software does cater to small companies, it shines as a corporate tool, since its more advanced features require a dedicated server (and the expensive licensing that comes with it). One feature that stands out from competitors is search. Live Meeting users can search current and past meeting documents (but not audio or video) for specific content.

According to Microsoft's website, it can cost as little as $4.50 per month per user, with a minimum of five users.

5. WebEx Meeting Center – WebEx is the umbrella name given to Cisco Systems' large array of online meeting tools which serve from small meetings to large conferences. Meeting Center is a popular part of this range of products, and holds collaborative working at its core. What sets this tool aside from its competitors is the ability for hosts and participants to keep a number of meeting-related content on their screen simultaneously and resize or move them around as they like.

The tool is also integrated with Outlook, so it is easy to start a meeting or send invitations directly from the program. It is a relatively easy to use tool, although it does require some training so users can make the most of its functionality. 

The product costs $49 per month per user, and allows up to 25 participants per meeting.

 

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