In a world where we now communicate and collaborate mainly via the Internet, it’s important to have the right tool available. Not only do you need something that is dependable and works properly, but you also want a tool that is easy for all of your collaborators to use. Having a lot of features is nice, but if the people you’re trying to communicate with can’t figure out how to join you, more than likely you’ll end up alone!
This list will got over some of the best online tools for meetings, group collaborations, and screen sharing. These kind of tools come in handy for many things like webinars, training, projects, technical support, or just to have a group chat for fun.
All of these tools are easy-to-use and, for the most part, are even easier for your collaborators to join in as well. Let’s take a look.
MeetingBurner is not just a great place to hold online meetings (right in the browser – no downloads required), it’s also good for hosting webinars, and sharing your screen. It includes Skype integration, conference lines, and one click recording and sharing. You’ll also get analytics for your meetings so that you can see how your guests interact with your content. Due to it’s fast load times and easy-to-use interface, it’s one of the most popular services for online meetings; best of all, the service is free.
Meetin.gs lets you get started in less than 60 seconds and gives you the convenience of creating new meetings via a bookmarklet, in addition to using the website. Not only can you create meetings yourself and participate from any device, but you can create and edit them together with participants. It’s also a great place to edit documents together with a group and anyone can mail-in notes and other materials via email.
Pricing: Meetin.gs has both a free and PRO account ($19/month or $190/year).
Jabbster is aimed at people who want to privately keep in touch with the family and friends; yet the platform is well suited to hold online meetings as well. While it doesn’t offer real-time meetings via video (like MeetingBurner), it does let you create private groups where you can share photos, events, and contact info. You’ll be able to have threaded discussions; it’s pretty much like having your own private social networking, with a few added benefits.
If you enjoy this service, you may also like Micromobs, which is very similar.
GoToMeeting is a desktop alternative to MeetingBurner and is used for meetings (in HD) and web conferences. There are three different products that are offered: GoToMeeting, GoToWebinar, and GoToTraining. All products allow desktop and application sharing, one-click recording, drawing tools, voice conferencing abilities, and more. You can start meetings from Microsoft Office, email, or instant messaging tools. Best of all, meetings can be accessed from a Mac, PC, iPad, iPhone, or Android device.
Pricing: GoToMeeting is not free, though it does come with a free 30-day trial. After the trial it’s $49/month.
Yugma is a free service for hosting online meetings and web conferences, and is also great for sharing your screen and collaborating with others. Yugma offers 5 other plans along with the free version. “Yugma Free gives you free web conferencing with up to 2 attendees [and 1 hour meeting limitations].” It also comes with audio conferencing, public and private chat, Skype integration, annotations and whiteboarding tools, quick polls, and much more.
Pricing: P2 – $24.50/year; P20 – $9.95/month or $99.50/year; P50 – $34.95/month or $349.50/year; P100 – $79.95/month or $799.50/year; P500 – $159.95/month or $1599.50/year.
Note: For some of Yugma’s services you will need to install their software.
WebEx is an excellent service that gives you unlimited online meetings. With this you get high-quality videos, phone conferencing, and mobile access (including the iPad), so that you can host and attend meetings while on-the-go. You can have up to 25 people in a meeting and see up to 6 webcams on screen at a time. Their online collaboration tools, like whiteboarding, note-taking, and annotations, make it great for working with groups.
Pricing: There is a free 14-day trial, after which the service is $19/month.
Sync.in is “a web based processor for people to collaborate in real-time” and refers to itself as “real-time document conferencing.” It’s kind of like Google Docs since it lets numerous people work on the same document and instantly shows any changes that are made. Sync.in is great for working on documents and notes, brainstorming, planning, training, and much more.
Pricing: While it is totally free and requires no sign-up, you can get Sync.in PRO for $2 per user/month (after a 30-day trial).
Note: If you want to create new notes from your desktop, you’ll need to install a small piece of software.
Twiddla is a very popular web based meeting place for study groups, since it allows you to markup websites, graphics, images, and more via a whiteboard. Not only can you collaborate with others, but you can also browse the web together and hold conference calls. The free account only offers meetings, document and image sharing, screen captures, and voice chat. There are no downloads, plugins, or sign-up required.
Pricing: While Twiddla does offer a very limited free account, there are three other plans: Professional ($14/month), Enterprise ($49/month), and Universal ($189/month).
Vyew is great for meeting and sharing content in real-time. You can collaborate on images, files, documents and videos. It includes whiteboarding tools, screen sharing, VoIP, forums, voice notes, activity tracking, text chat, and more. There are no installations required and the free version gives you unlimited use with up to 10 people, but it is ad supported. A unique feature of Vyew is that it offers quite a few plug-ins that can add extra functionality to the service like adding MP3's, YouTube videos, and polls.
Pricing: There are two other plans: plus ($9.95/month) and professional ($19.95/month).
Huddle is a cloud platform that lets you collaborate, share files, and manage projects. It offers a huge list of features, plus quite a few unique features that you won’t find on other similar services. For instance, their versioning feature allows for collaboration on the same documents, yet it keep tracks of different version of that document so that you can revert back if needed. Documents can be accessed from anywhere including mobile devices like the iPhone, Android, Blackberry, and iPad. The Huddle developer API is also available for anyone wanting to build an application or mash-up.
Pricing: Huddle comes with a 14-day free trial, after which you’ll have to contact them for a quote based on your needs.
ShowDocument offers online meetings, screen sharing, and real-time collaboration – all with a single click. Integrated features include: whiteboarding tools, chat translator, chat (voice, video, text), and the sharing of web pages, YouTube videos, and Google maps. You can customize ShowDocument and add functionality via the App Center. If you plan on using it frequently, you can also install the Chrome extension or Firefox Add-on. There is also an Android app for those who want to use the service on their mobile device.
312Meet, currently in public beta 2, provides unlimited online meetings and share your screen without any limitations. All you need to get started is to enter your email address and either join or host a meeting using the widget on their website. While the site is free, you can upgrade to a PRO, Business, or Enterprise account in order to get rid of ads and commercials. Unfortunately, all upgraded accounts are not available in the beta phase; so you’ll have to wait until the service is out of beta.
In case the above 12 aren’t enough or just aren’t what you’re looking for, here are 5 other suggestions.
“A cloud-based visual collaboration and personal telepresence service that enables the mobile enterprise to share any content, from any device, any where in the world.” You can collaborate in real-time with high-resolution content.
“Zoho empowers you to meet and collaborate with your online remote audience.” It’s great for sharing your desktop and collaborating in real-time. It also supports voice conferencing via telephone or VoIP.
Skype of course supports group video calling so that you can talk to and see more than one person at a time. However, this is not an online tool (as most know), you will need to download Skype 5.0 or higher to make group video calls.
Facebook currently supports online video calling (in partnership with Skype), though you currently cannot do group video calls. You can, however, have group text chats. It’s worth looking into since almost everyone has a Facebook account now-a-days.
Google+ Hangouts is another social network that supports video chatting and with a group. You’ll need to install the Google voice and video plugins to get started. Once you do, you can also use video in Gmail, iGoogle, and Orkut. It’s now one of the easiest ways to see a group of friends at one time.
So which on is the best for online meetings? You be the judge! Let us know in the comments below.
Charnita is an Internet Marketing student at Full Sail University, early adopter and part-time blogger. In her spare time she enjoys trying out new apps for the web, PC, Mac and iPhone. You can find her latest blog posts at Social Web Tools and follower her on Twitter.