When you can't be there in person, it's important to make it easy to speak to colleagues and contacts alike. Beacon recommends Zoom.
Whether your team members regularly work from home, or you prefer the rapport you can build with face-to-face interactions, bridging the gap digitally with video conferencing lets you bring everyone together.
As a non-profit or charity, you also have access to big discounts or even free access.
The world's most popular video conferencing tool.
There's a reason it's used by the most people: Zoom is the best tool for the job. It's a dedicated video conferencing product so as a company they have a single product focus, unlike something like Google's Hangouts Meet, and it shows with how comprehensive their offering is.
Easy video calls
Beacon uses Zoom because it's easy to use. One of the biggest features it offers is that meeting participants don't need a Zoom account. Invited members will be prompted to download the app, and they're good to go! You can even dial in to the call from a mobile if you don't have a microphone on your computer. There's big buttons for all the main actions so there's no need to read a manual or guide - you can simply focus on getting things done.
The essentials done right
So you've set up a meeting. What does that look like? You've got options for audio and video, both of which can be muted or turned off by each user, and you can let Zoom show the current speaker automatically, you can pin a specific video to stay at the forefront, or you can view everyone at the same time in a Brady Bunch-esque gallery view. (Apparently it makes you a model with perfect teeth too)
The other tool you'll frequently be using is of course: Share screen. Show your desktop, or just a specific window you have open, to the other meeting participants. We use this to conduct demos and training, and to run through detailed documents with our customers. We like to take a hands-on approach to helping our customers, and Zoom lets us do that from afar!
Integrate with the tools you already use
Create a zoom meeting directly from Slack, Chrome or Firefox. Convert a calendar invite into a zoom meeting in iCal, Google Calendar or Outlook. Share files from your Dropbox, Google Drive and One Drive. Even join a meeting from Skype!
Good tools are able to be a part of your usual work processes, and we think Zoom does that in spades.
Extra features you didn't even know you needed
So it ticks the main boxes, but what else is under the hood?
- You can never have enough friends: Add up to 1000 participants, with 49 on your screen at any one time.
- Share files and links easily with meeting members, no need to fire up the email program in the background.
- Busy office behind you? Working from home and the kids are running around the house? Virtual backgrounds let you live out your news reporter dreams, hiding the distractions behind you.
- Sometimes you just need to draw a diagram, or get your flowchart fix. Bring out the whiteboard and doodle away, especially if you've dialled in from an iPad or tablet.
- As you'd expect, Zoom is secure. All meetings are encrypted to keep information confidential.
- Know that there's a lot of information you'll want to reference later? You can record the meeting for posterity, and even get an automatic transcript of what's been said!
- Quickly find everyone's opinion on options by conducting an in-meeting poll, or a virtual hand raise.
Use it for free, or get a great discount on extended features
Zoom is one of the few video conferencing systems with a free plan, although it does have its limitations. In particular, whilst you have unlimited 1-on-1 calls you can only run group meetings up to 40 minutes in length. We recommend using the free account to try it out, and see if it works for your organisation without any financial risk. Then, if you like what it offers, non-profits and charities have access to 50% off their Pro plans.
Zoom don't offer the discount directly - you'll need to sign up via a partner. The way this works is: you pay an admin fee to the partner (£52/$65) and then pay for your required number of hosts at the discounted rate (£5/$6.25 per user, per month).
- In the UK, access bundles with Charity Digital.
- Outside the UK, including the USA, you can go through Tech Soup.
Happy meetings! Give us a call sometime :-)