Culture via Slack

How to pick an online meeting tool that’s best for your team

Ask these questions before selecting a tool to ensure your online group meeting will be efficient—and productive

Author: Deanna deBaraJanuary 31st, 2019Illustration by Patrick Leger

Having a hard time figuring out how to pick an online meeting tool for your team? Start by considering what kind of remote-meeting experience will work best for everyone.

Does your team want an online group meeting where it can utilize a bunch of bells and whistles (like screen-sharing), or does it just need something simple and straightforward (like audio and visual functionality)? Do you need a remote-meeting tool that is easy to figure out on your own, or would you prefer to work with a company that offers a full onboarding process?

Ultimately, when it comes picking an online meeting tool, it boils down to which one provides the best answers to the following questions.

1. How easy is it to use?

By definition, online meeting tools are used to connect with people who aren’t in your immediate environment.

If you choose a remote-meeting tool that’s overly complicated, your team is likely going to have a lot of questions about how to use it—and may have issues with logging on and navigating the system when it’s time for a meeting. And because you won’t be there in person to show your colleagues the ropes, a complicated tool can lead to a lot of frustration, miscommunication, and wasted time—time you could have spent having the actual meeting.

Remember, if you have trouble figuring out how to use this tool, so will your team. And your meetings (and productivity) will likely suffer as a result.

2. What’s the onboarding process like?

Even tools that are straightforward and easy to use will have a learning curve. But a successful onboarding process ensures that you’ll spend a lot less time figuring out how to make the tool work for your team and more time actually using it.

Before you choose an online meeting tool, ask some questions about the onboarding process, such as:

  • How long and involved is it?
  • Is there hands-on training for your team so everyone will be up to speed on how to use the tool’s features?
  • What kind of real-time support is offered?

The more thorough the onboarding process, the easier it will be to get your team to use the tool.

3. Does it integrate with my existing technology?

Chances are, your online meeting tool won’t be the first piece of technology in place at your business. So why not choose a tool that integrates with your existing technology?

Figure out which apps or software will need to be compatible with your online meeting tool. For example, do you want to be able to share Dropbox files directly in your online meeting? That’s a capability for Zoom users.

Do a little investigative work to make sure the tool you’re considering offers those integrations. And if your team is already using Slack, check the Slack app directory for online meeting tools that easily integrate with the Slack platform.

4. Does the tool offer features that meet my business needs?

Define what you need in order to have successful meetings—and then make sure whatever online meeting tool you’re eyeing has the necessary features to deliver on those needs.

For example, do most of your meetings involve presentations? Then you need an online meeting tool with screen-sharing capabilities. Is it important for you to have face-to-face conversations with your team? Then an online meeting tool with high-definition video features is a must.

5. Is it reliable?

When you’re using an online meeting tool, you need the tool to actually work.

That means everyone on your team needs to be able to connect to the online meeting, whether they’re in a different cubicle, a different time zone, or a different country. Everyone needs reliable audio and video that runs smoothly no matter how many team members log in to the meeting.

For any online meeting tool you’re considering, do your research and see what current users are saying. Do most people seem satisfied with their experience—or is there a laundry list of customer complaints about dropped meetings, audio issues, and an overall lack of quality?

Your tool also needs to be able to deliver the functionality you need for your meeting—whether that’s screen-sharing or editing a document in real time—without freezing or running into any glitches or tech-related issues.

In other words, you need a tool that’s reliable. Otherwise, expect headaches (and extremely inefficient meetings) in your future.

6. How much does it cost?

When it comes to pricing, online meeting tools run the gamut from free to pricey. Typically, the more features and onboarding support that come with the remote-meeting tool, the higher the price tag.

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to pricing. The right online meeting tool for your team is going to depend on your team’s needs, your company size, and how much money you have to spend.

Do your research, compare prices, and choose a tool that has everything you need so you get the most bang for your buck.

Learning how to pick an online meeting tool can feel overwhelming. But now that you know which questions to ask, you have everything you need to choose the right remote-meeting tool for you and your team.

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