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Brace yourself—top 6 must-have video conferencing tools

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Whether your company has offices scattered throughout the country (or the world), relies on a team of road warriors, has embraced telecommuting, or has clients in cities near and far, video conferencing can make the miles between you virtually disappear. After all, with today’s newest video conferencing tools, you can connect, share, see, hear and collaborate—no matter where you are. In fact, it’s almost better than being in the same room.

But how can you achieve such a feat of collaboration within your own organization? With technology that boasts all the right features, it’s easy.

Here’s our list of six must-have tools for seamless video conferencing for businesses of every size:

  1. Screen sharing/editing—When you choose a web video conferencing tool that allows you to share your screen with others, you can not only show them the data, document or file you’re discussing on the call, but with built-in editing tools, you can collaborate on the files in real-time. By allowing you, and others, to edit information on the fly, the right tools can help ensure that all of the updates discussed are accounted for. In addition, it gives you the power to review documents in their entirety and get buy-in from all of the stakeholders on the spot.
  2. Multiple monitors—Many of us use multiple monitors to keep files organized and get a clear view of a project—but when video conferencing, all of those monitors may be displayed. However, with a conferencing tool that allows you to select which monitor to present, you can keep your presenting notes open and private on one screen and deliver your presentation to your audience from another.
  3. Built-in notetaking—When it comes to collaborating or brainstorming for a project, in-person meetings are the traditional winners. But if you need to host a video conference online that’s just as productive as a face-to-face meeting, choose a tool with features like built-in notetaking. It gives you the online equivalent of a whiteboard that everyone can see. It will help keep your team’s ideas organized and inspire new ideas, conversations and meaningful collaboration.
  4. Planning options—Sometimes meetings are scheduled, sometimes they’re impromptu. In order to allow you to meet formally, you should look for a tool that interfaces well with internal and external email systems, so that you can send invitations and sign on information that, once accepted, will be posted on your team’s calendars. However, you should also look for a tool that gives you the option to meet spontaneously—without requiring you to complete a myriad of steps in order to “jump on a quick call” with a handful of people.
  5. Record meetings for posterity—When you choose a video conferencing tool that allows you to record meetings and post them on a team site, participants can refer back to the discussion to refresh their memories, and those who weren’t able to attend can watch and/or listen to the meeting as their schedules allow. This way, everyone can get the same information first-hand.
  6. Put a face with a name—Whether it’s because of distance or schedules, you may rarely see your clients and colleagues, but with web video conferencing, even if you’re separated by several time zones, you can still put a name with a face. By choosing a tool that allows you to tap into your video camera and share your screen, you can more easily convey emotions, build personal relationships and create trust among team members and clients. And with the ability to see who’s speaking, video conferencing allows participants to more easily gauge when someone has completed a thought, which means fewer awkward interruptions.

To help further your collaborative efforts with your team and your clients, try to select a video conferencing solution that allows participants to choose which devices to use. With the ability to “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD), users can connect via their desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone—and it makes it easier for everyone to attend meetings and share ideas virtually anywhere.

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