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What are virtual meetings?

Definition, explanation, benefits, and the best tools for virtual meetings

What are virtual meetings?

A virtual meeting is a gathering of two or more people to connect, share information, and communicate remotely by using an audio-visual link. This kind of communication allows the exchange of ideas even if the participants are not in the same physical location.

Synonyms

remote meeting, teleconference, web conference, video conference, webinar

Benefits

Virtual meetings provide several benefits.

They save time and money because they don’t involve travel expenses and the participants can access the meeting from their own office.

Virtual meetings enable participants to pay equal attention to a topic, because they don’t have to worry about turning people down when they ask for a discussion or taking part in the conversation only at scheduled times.

Also, virtual meetings provide innovative ways of participating online. This way, people who are not very good at speaking in front of other people can contribute to the discussion.

Collaborating on virtual meetings is easier because they do not require working together in the same place. Also, thanks to technological advances, it has become possible for all members of a meeting to see each other and share information.

Methods of participation

Participants can take part in a virtual meeting by speaking through the computer’s microphone and listening to the other participants through speakers or headphones, or they can just listen to them.

They can also communicate by typing messages on their computer screens and sending them over the Internet. Participants may be able to present documents, such as PowerPoint or PDF slideshows, and share them with the other participants. With some tools, they can even do things like copy a document that is shown on the screen of one of the participants in a meeting and mark up their comments on it before sharing it with everyone else.

Software and apps for virtual meetings

There are many tools that you can use to have a virtual meeting.

Video conferencing apps:

  • Zoom
  • Google Meet
  • MS Teams
  • GoToMeeting
  • Teamflow
  • Webex
  • Zoho Meeting
  • Intermedia AnyMeeting
  • Slack

All (or most) of these tools are free for personal use. However, other features, like the amount of participants and call duration, are limited unless you are on a paid plan.

Meeting management software:

  • Hugo
  • Fellow
  • Hypercontext
  • Docket
  • Adam.ai
  • Lucid Meetings

The tool category of meeting management software helps with setting agendas, organizing meeting notes, and tracking action items.

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Equipment required for virtual meetings

Virtual meetings offer new ways of collaborating with people in real time.

To conduct a virtual meeting you need audio, video, screen sharing or presentation sharing, instant messaging and chat or voice over IP (VOIP).

The equipment required for holding a virtual meeting includes laptop computers, microphones, webcams and speakers.

There are several important considerations to remember when organizing virtual meetings, such as making sure that the bandwidth is sufficient to handle all types of internet traffic you need to run the meeting, using technology with essential security measures, and installing up-to-date software.

Why do people hold virtual meetings?

Virtual meetings are held for several reasons. They can be used by people who work in different geographical locations (e.g. a parent working at a different city or a different country). They can also be used for team meetings by people who work remotely.

Virtual meetings can have several aims, such as sharing knowledge, brainstorming ideas, making decisions about projects and offering feedback on documents. Some people like holding virtual meetings because they don't involve traveling and participants of the meeting can access the meeting from their own office.

Virtual meetings also provide new ways of participating online and add a modern twist to traditional conference calls.

Challenges for virtual meetings

Virtual meetings have several challenges.

For example, virtual meetings require specific skills from participants, such as being able to use different types of technologies on the same meeting, following basic etiquette when speaking, and being able to express ideas in a concise way.

It is also difficult for virtual meetings participants to build a good relationship with the other people in the meeting because they can’t meet them face-to-face.

Common difficulties include dropped connections, technical glitches and having to schedule around different time zones.

Alternatives to virtual meetings

You can replace virtual meetings with in-person meetings or telephone calls.

Some tools for online collaboration are Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Dropbox Paper.

Summary

Virtual meetings are online meeting services that are run over the internet through video conferencing, instant messaging, chat, screen sharing, etc. There are many tools which can be used for arranging virtual meetings. Meeting management software is also helpful for planning and running virtual meetings.

Virtual meetings can be held by people who work in different geographical locations or by team members who work remotely. Virtual meetings can be used for sharing knowledge, brainstorming ideas, making decisions about projects and offering feedback on documents. However, virtual meetings can pose several challenges such as requiring basic computer skills from participants and the difficulty of building good relationships with the meeting participants online.

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