With the Corona virus and people having to social distance, it’s more important than ever for entrepreneurs to be sure that they are able to conduct their business. Video conferences and calls are one of the best ways for small business owners to keep working.
I wanted to review some of the video conferencing apps for female entrepreneurs – since there are a lot of them out there. Many companies are giving more features to their “free” plans, such as unlimited minutes, increasing the number of participants. But, it is unclear how long this will last. I tried to look for the ability to have video calls, free or low cost, you can share your screen, etc. Here are several options.
[Note: I did not cover programs primarily used for Live Streaming (Be.Live, etc.) or for Webinars. Instead I focused on free or low-cost programs so taht entrepreneurs could communicate with their clients or their teams.]
Video Conferencing Programs
Zoom – it has been around for years, but has gotten popular with the Corona virus lock down. There is a free level where you can host up to 100 participants, with 40 minute time limit, and typical video conferencing features, like screen sharing, chat, polls, etc. The Pro version is $14.99/ mo/host with 100 participants, unlimited minutes, more recording time, and more. Zoom had some bad press – some of it due to user-error. I have been using them to years and it’s quite easy to use. One of the biggest advantages is that Zoom integrates with scheduling programs, email marketing services, etc.
Jitsi – This is an open source video conferencing platform. It’s easy to use, no signups necessary. You simply go to the page, enter the name of your call – it should be unique. (They auto-generate some as well.) Once you’re in, you will need to allow access to your camera and microphone. To invite others, you will need to click the “info” icon in the bottom right-hand corner to get the link for others to join. I think this is more like your own “room” – since you can keep this same link and invite others to come in. You can add a password as well (though in my testing it didn’t ask for the password – though it might have been because I was the originator of the meeting). [Note: There is a popup to add a chrome extension – I didn’t do this.] Since you don’t have an account, you can’t connect it directly to a scheduling program or email software. You will need to copy the link and send it to the other invitees. But it is a secure platform. It’s easy to use with a lot of the same features – share your screen, blurred background, etc. However, in order to record it – you will need to connect to a Dropbox account. (I didn’t like that it could only be Dropbox….) It allows people to dial-in by phone. But overall it’s an easy to use program.
Cisco WebEx Meetings – They now have a free version for up to 100 participants with no limits on time. For this system, you do have to create an account and install the Webex Meeting software. You have your own “personal” meeting room with a link. It does allow you to record and save to your computer (I would create a special folder so they’re all saved in one place). You can share your screen, have a chat box, a notes box and even “lock” your meeting. And it’s nice because you can schedule meetings. It does have call-in functions (by telephone) as well.
Bluejeans.com – Bluejeans Meetings is another one which is a “premium” video conferencing service. There is a free 7-day free trial for Bluejeans Meetings It’s entry-level pricing is $9.99 per month but it’s quite a good quality program. This is what Facebook uses for its business meetings. You can host up to 50 participants, unlimited meetings, unlimited minutes, you can record up to 5 hours, mobile access, calendar integrations, etc. (The next level up is $13.00/host/mo with up to 75 participants, 25 hours of meeting recording etc.) It’s browser-based, so nothing to download or install.
Skype Meet – Skype has a browser-based free video conferencing call system. You go to the website, click on “create a link” – and presto you can start a call. You can copy it to share with others or start the meeting. You can record your calls, blur your background, share your screen. You can create the meeting ahead of time as they have no expiration date. Again, it’s more like a “personal” room.
Live webinar – the free version allows up to 5 attendees, 2 hours of recordings, screen sharing, tests, polls & Surveys. Pro for $11.00/mo includes up to 100 attendees, 6 hours of recording, etc. It is more for webinars – as it allows you to create registration forms and lead forms. You can create and schedule events and invite participants. You can create an “instant” meeting or schedule a webinar. You do have to create an account. You can even lock the meeting. They have a webinar interface and a meeting interface (stripped down). They have a lot of integrations with Mailchimp, Active Campaign, Aweber, Convertkit, and more.
Whereby – Another browser-based option with no downloads or logins for guests. They have a free one user one meeting room with up to four people. They do have a mobile app but if you want to record, you have to have the paid version which is $9.99 /mo. So this might be great for small teams or maybe families but I don’t think you can have larger meetings or webinars. It’s secure, you can lock the room, and share your screen as well. It allows you to create an easy custom link like “whereby.com/roomname.” The paid versions allow more people and options. You do have to sign up – and they send you a code before you can access it.
Uberconference – they have a free level up to 10 participants with 45 minute call limit. For the next two months, it’s free for anyone with up to 50 participants and longer talk limits. No downloads required. You can have a video or audio only call, share your screen and other similar functions. You do have to sign up. It’s more link a conference call software – it even has hold or waiting music – and announces like a conference call – but it does have the video option. You can record, lock conference, and mute all. It even has a game – Buzzword Bingo that you can play. Click on a square when someone says a buzzword. Get 3 in a row to win! Their business level is $15/mo
GoToMeeting 14-day free trial with their plan – $12 for organizer per month with up to 150 participants. So that’s really for bigger kinds of events (you don’t have to provide a cc number). You do have to download their software with this program. You can share your screen, lock the meeting, have your own “room” Easy to use interface.
Eyeson – free trial. Up to 25 participants, unlimited minutes. Then $9/mo No downloads or installs. You can have a link for others to join. A nice interface. Simple – you can share your screen, chat, share gifs, and many other functions. You can record, and even set up a livestream.
Lifesize – they have free level 6 months for free, up to 25 participants, unlimited meetings, unlimited minutes, personal meeting room. It doesn’t appear that you can record. The paid version starts at $16.95/mo for up to 100 participants. Fairly simple to use. You can share your screen and invite other people. You do need to sign up.
EZ Talks – it has a free level but for only two people and only 10 minutes. Their next paid level is $10/mo with 100 participants and unlimited minutes. You do have to download software. You can share your screen, have a whiteboard, local recording etc.
Cyberlink – it is free for 25 participants per meeting at 30 minute max, though you can pay for more. They have a pro version of $29.99 per month for 50 participants (they also have u webinar -a free version up to 25 participants with 30 min max). For this program, you do need to first download software.
Freeconference has free calls with up to a hundred participants but only five are actually video participants. You can share your screen or have a whiteboard function as well. It’s free to set up. You can start calls, or schedule them. It is much more like a conference call program – including waiting music and announcement of participants, with some video capabilities. It does not appear that you can record your meetings on the free level.
Microsoft Teams – it has a free version. You do have to download software either for desktop or mobile and you need a Microsoft account. I would say that this makes sense for a team of people – not necessarily talking to outside clients.