Please don’t go..
I just renewed my membership of The Nature Conservancy and on the back of my new membership card were 10 tips on green living. Being a techie, tip number4, “Reduce your meeting travel – try video conferencing instead” resonated with me and made me want to share a couple on things with our blog readers.
So many alternatives are available these days to have video meetings remotely which not only save money and time to travel, but also have features such as screen sharing that are more effective than face to face meetings. It is better to share the screen to show attendees a spreadsheet than to print 15 copies to hand out. Here are three programs that I have come across and used and liked: Skype, Yuuguu and GoToMeeting. All programs are cross platform and can work on a Mac or Windows.
Skype, the most common one and my personal favorite, is free for video conferencing as long as both parties have a Skype account and the software loaded on their computers. I love this for personal video conferencing with my friends since most of them have Skype already installed. Skype allows you to share your screen or see the other user’s screen while having an audio conversation with them. If you are not sharing your screen you can turn your video on and you both can see each other. The limitation is that you can only share video with one person at a time, while you can talk without video with many people simultaneously. Talia and I often use screen sharing to exchange ideas about the blog on the weekends. Since she doesn’t have a video camera (or so she says) she can see me but I can’t see her.
Yuuguu is a little more sophisticated and better for businesses. It has a free package and three tiers of paid packages starting at $15/month. In addition to screen sharing that Skype offers, Yuuguu allows you control the other user’s computer and vice versa. This means you can be at your computer, seeing the other user’s screen and clicking their icons with your mouse and operating their computer! This is excellent for training sessions. However, Yuuguu does allow video conferencing. With the free package you can have up to five Yuuguu participants in a session and for the first 100 free minutes you can conference with non-Yuuguu users. Unlike Skype installing their software is not necessary in this case. This the only free software I know that allows you to control the computers cross platform, i.e. a Mac can control Windows and vice versa. This is good for helping your parents with their computers remotely!
The next higher quality alternative is GoToMeeting. This like Yuuguu allows the same controls and conveniences. There is no free service but you can get a one-month free trial. You can get an account to hold an unlimited number of meetings for $39/month with a one year contract and $49/month without a contract, with up to 15 attendees per meeting. If your needs are greater and you need more than 15 attendees, you can buy the GoToWebinar package which allows you to have up to 1000 attendees. I have attended courses using this and the experience is great. The voice quality and the screen sharing is as if you are in the room and there is no need to download any software for the attendee.