There are a multitude of apps and tools available to help you and your team work remotely, and in this post we’ll be looking at some of the features of Zoom, a relatively newly-popular contender in the world of video conferencing apps.
While Zoom is of course hoping that many of its users will see the benefits of its service and purchase a paid plan, its Free tier is actually pretty generous – You can host up to 100 people in a meeting, and the time limit for group meetings is 40 minutes. 1:1 meetings are unlimited in length. For £11.99 per month per host, you can get up to 24-hour-long calls (phew!) and generate a special URL for repeated meetings. You can also record calls and save them to the cloud or to your device. Zoom also offers packages for small-to-medium businesses and Enterprise-level solutions that have perks such as company branding, vanity URLs, and dedicated priority customer support.
The beauty of Zoom’s system is not only that it’s pretty generous in what it offers for free, but that only the host themselves needs to have a paid account to unlock those features. If your host has a paid plan, then your group meetings are unlimited in length, and they can even choose to stream the meeting or event to social media sites if they wish. Of course, only those with a paid plan have access to these other features, but for small teams, it’s well worth the subscription for one or two senior team members while keeping the rest of the team on a free plan (or no plan at all if they choose not to make an account).
You don’t even need a Zoom account to participate in a hosted meeting under many circumstances – simply get the ID of the meeting you want to join and visit the site or open the app. This can be a game-changer for some people, especially those who are very busy or those who simply don’t want to register for an account to use the service. If you want to host a meeting or invite others, though, you’ll need to make a free account.
If your background is a bit distracting or busy (or perhaps you’d rather pretend you’re on a beach in Hawaii) you can apply backgrounds to your calls, using stock images or even company branding in place of your actual background – as noted in their FAQ, this works best with a physical green-screen setup.
Multiple people in a group meeting can share their screens at once, and you can pick which of them you’d like to view. This feature makes collaborating in real-time or demonstrating a process even easier.
Waiting rooms are just that – Zoom’s virtual waiting area where participants can see and talk to others in the area, and the host can send a message to all of the people in the waiting room at once. The host can also use this option for enhanced security, to screen participants and make sure only the people they want to allow in from the waiting room actually make it into the full meeting.
If you’ve had a long day, a bad night or perhaps just the lighting is a bit off wherever you are, you can use the Touch-up option in the app to enhance your image.
Next week we’ll have a look at some of the other features Zoom offers, including Zoom Rooms, calendar integration, personal meeting rooms and some of the enhanced features of their business and enterprise plans.