The benefits of video conferencing for remote working are well understood, such as enabling a wider talent pool and increasing productivity and employee happiness1. But there are other business benefits too. For example, in a recent study2 of 1,152 video conferencing users, 71% agreed that video conferencing strengthened customer relationships, while almost 60% said it improved the sales process too. This is where dedicated video conferencing hardware comes in.
Given these compelling advantages, video conferencing is something that your business can’t afford to ignore, but how do you integrate it effectively so as to reap the rewards?
The good news is that getting started with video conferencing costs nothing, and simply requires that you have a device with a camera and microphone, which covers pretty much every modern laptop, tablet or 2-in-1 device. The only other element required is the software and even here the entry-level options are free.
Video conferencing software
Zoom topped the poll for the most popular video conferencing app in the study mentioned earlier, but there are many other options, including Skype for Business, Slack and the excellent Google Hangouts, the majority of which are free, at least for the entry-level tier.
Taking Zoom as the example, you can sign up for free and hold video conferences with up to 100 participants, including features such as screen-sharing and breakout rooms, without having to pay a penny. For more advanced features, such as a greater number of participants, cloud recordings of meetings, usage reports and so on, the next tier upstarts from £11.99 per month per host, which is highly affordable. So why would you ever consider anything more than this, or even paying at all?
Software-only solutions – selling yourself short
When making a decision on the best solution for your business, it’s important to consider the reason why video conferencing is such an increasingly popular tool, which is that it enables for face-to-face collaboration without the need to travel. However, for this to be effective, the experience has to be as good as being there in person, or as close to it as possible, otherwise, the benefits are negated, or could even work against you.
For example, if you set up a video conference with a client using your laptop and the free tools available, consider whether you’re presenting (literally) the best impression of yourself and your company. Laptop webcams and microphones are often far from high-quality devices, capturing fuzzy, dim images, and audio that sounds like it was recorded in the 1950s for an episode of Doctor Who. And, due to their location on the top of the screen, laptop webcams rarely capture you at your best, especially if the laptop is placed on a desk. After all, it’s unlikely that your client or prospect wants to stare up your nose while you deliver your killer pitch.