The best conferencing providers offer teleconferencing and video conferencing services with a whole range of features to suit many specific business requirements. Whilst conferencing has been a staple workplace communication tool for some time, the rise in popularity of a remote workforce in some industries and the accessibility of new technologies has led to many conferencing providers entering the market.
So, what constitutes a great conferencing provider, and how do you choose the right one for your small business?
1. Video capability
The best conferencing providers will offer video conferencing in addition to regular teleconferencing service, allowing you to hold face-to-face meetings and enjoy that same-room feel no matter where your guests are. Video conferencing services can range from a simple virtual meeting joined via a web link, to a larger event using a board room equipped with dedicated video conferencing hardware.
2. Document sharing
Reports, documents, images, or other important business-related items are often the topic of discussion for many virtual meetings. Using a video conferencing service that allows instant file sharing on demand, eliminates the usual back-and-forth emails or other slower methods of communication require. Document sharing is a convenient feature you will find yourself using to strengthen communication and collaboration in your meetings.
3. Screen sharing
Screen sharing is a powerful communication tool allowing participants to show each other a live feed of their screen to help explain, demonstrate, or otherwise add value to a conversation. Sometimes telling is not as effective as actually showing, and screen sharing allows you to give your conference participants a first-person visual run down of the topic using your own screen.
4. Security options
If your meeting agenda involves sensitive topics or confidential information, you'll want to make sure your provider has a range of security options in place covering personal, product or service security levels. The use of data encryption prevents your private voice or video conversations being intercepted. Data storage should be local and not in some obscure off-shore facility in a country with inferior data privacy laws. Avoid services requiring you to download software. If not securely hosted, your system security could be significantly compromised.
5. Recording functions
Audio and video conferences can be recorded and used for future training purposes, or as a quick and easy reference for team members to make sure that everything discussed in the meeting has been actioned. To make the most of the valuable time you spend conferencing, make sure your provider offers a recording feature.
6. Easy setup and access
To ensure a smooth and efficient conferencing experience, choose a provider with a fast and pain-free account setup process and a service that makes it easy to host and join an audio or video conference on-demand. Look for a video conferencing service that is instantly accessible via a standalone URL so you don't need to deal with messy, time-consuming software downloads. You’re also better off using a service where you can connect using reliable, consistent credentials, rather than sending out a unique code to your guests every time you need to meet.
7. Mute function
Ideally, the only sound you should be hearing during a conference is the voice of the speaker. Background noise and interference can be managed by using a mute function, which can be activated via a telephone keypad or video conferencing screen. Best practice is to have everyone enter the conference on mute and then allow them (or the host only) to open their line when they need to talk.
Considering these features when choosing a conferencing provider for your small business will ensure you make the best choice that suits your needs. For more information about choosing the correct provider for you, please read our definitive guides to choosing an audio or web conferencing provider.
To speak to one of our experts about a solution that fits your conferencing requirements, contact us today.