Video conferencing: what is it & how to use it effectively Can you see my screen? Great – let’s dive into the nuances of video conferencing so you can wow your audience in your next call. Written by Stephanie Lennox Updated on 13 February 2024 Our experts We are a team of writers, experimenters and researchers providing you with the best advice with zero bias or partiality. Written and reviewed by: Stephanie Lennox Writer As the COVID pandemic barrelled through our lives, it transformed the old ways we lived and worked. Unable to meet in person, video conferencing skyrocketed in every industry. Now, as hybrid working becomes the norm, it’s a staple of modern business communication. In this article, we'll explore what video conferencing covers, the key benefits it brings to businesses, and how to leverage it effectively for fulfilling and productive communication between you and your employees. In this article, we will cover: What is video conferencing? How video conferencing works Business applications of video conferencing Video conferencing tools Video calls since COVID, and hybrid work AI and the future of video conferencing FAQs What is video conferencing?“Can we hop on a quick call?”Video conferencing encompasses online meetings of all kinds, typically hosted on popular platforms such as Zoom, Teams, or Google Meet. Platforms like these have become synonymous with helping you connect with your team virtually, on-demand in user-friendly and versatile online spaces.Using audio and video technology, individuals or groups can connect face-to-face in real-time, regardless of geographical locations, It facilitates seamless communication, collaboration and instant rundowns among remote participants.There are various types of video conferencing to cater to different needs. For example, one-on-one video calls enable private discussions such as 121’s, while group meetings accommodate multiple participants in a virtual space for briefings and check-ins. Webinars are structured presentations or workshops conducted online, which are usually broadcast to a larger audience. And a fully virtual office is something you could set up to help you cut costs. All of these examples show that “telepresence” goes beyond simple video calls, and can serve a multitude of different purposes to benefit your business. How video conferencing worksTo start video conferencing, you'll need three core elements: a platform (like Zoom or Teams)a device (computer, tablet, or smartphone)a method to invite participantsThe technology behind video conferencing also revolves around three key components: hardware, software, and a stable internet connection (which should ensure smooth communication without glitches).Devices equipped with a camera and microphone serve as the hardware, while the software, provided by platforms like Zoom, acts as the interface for hosting and joining calls. There is an easy framework in place for video conferencing based on the role you intend to play during the meetings.The role of an organiser involves scheduling, generating an invitation link, and sharing it with participants. Hosts can control various aspects of the call, from muting participants to sharing screens for presentations. Your team or other external guests such as stakeholders can typically join by clicking the provided link, while internal participants may seamlessly connect through the platform's interface. Business applications of video conferencingVideo conferencing has the ability to seamlessly integrate into various departments of any workplace and transform the way it operates. For example:Day-to-day meetings: video conferencing has become the backbone of daily operations, facilitating quick stand-ups, team huddles, and even large-scale company-wide all-hands meetings.Sales and marketing: businesses can leverage video conferencing for remote product demonstrations, client meetings, and participation in virtual conferences. This enables sales teams to showcase products, engage with clients globally, and actively participate in industry events without geographical constraints.Human resources: video conferencing enables remote job interviews, virtual onboarding sessions, and interactive training modules. This ensures a smooth and inclusive onboarding experience for new hires, irrespective of their location.Project management: teams engaged in project management benefit from video conferencing for seamless collaboration, progress updates, and client presentations. The ability to share screens and documents in real-time enhances efficiency in project workflows.Customer service: video conferencing serves as a powerful tool for customer service, offering virtual consultations, technical support, and online training. This personalised approach enhances customer experience by providing real-time solutions and fostering a more direct and interactive relationship between businesses and their clients. Video conferencing toolsIt’s likely you’ve heard of these tools before, but let’s do a quick rundown of their key features and benefits, and what they could potentially bring to your business:Zoom: widely embraced for its user-friendly interface and versatile features, – particularly during the height of the pandemic at 300 million users per day. Zoom is one of the top platforms for meetings of all sizes, from one-on-one discussions to large-scale webinars.Google Meet: known for its reliability and secure video conferencing, Google Meet is an easy, pre-integrated and preferred choice for businesses who are already invested in the Google ecosystem.Microsoft Teams (formerly Skype): Teams combines chat, video conferencing, and cloud storage, offering a comprehensive collaboration hub within Microsoft 365. It's favoured for its integration with other Microsoft applications.Slack: though primarily a workplace messaging app, Slack has expanded into video conferencing with “Huddles”, providing an all-inclusive platform for team communication and collaboration, with file sharing and the ability to add integrations.WhatsApp: known for its simplicity and popularity for both work and personal use, WhatsApp offers video calling at your fingertips, making it a convenient choice for informal and on-the-go conversations, especially for individuals or smaller groups for free. Video calls since COVID, and hybrid workThe COVID-19 pandemic reshaped work forever, and catapulted video calls into prominence as the lifeline of remote and hybrid work scenarios. With the sudden shift towards flexible work arrangements, video calls became the primary conduit for communication, bridging the physical gap between team members dispersed globally. As organisations embraced hybrid work models, video calls evolved from a temporary solution to a permanent fixture, facilitating seamless collaboration and reducing reliance on traditional office spaces.Remote workers, including digital nomads, have become heavily reliant on video calls, breaking down time-based barriers and enabling professionals to collaborate effectively from diverse locations. AI and the future of video conferencingExciting things have been happening in the world of video conferencing when it comes to AI, as many platforms have been improving and innovating their products – including features like automated minute-taking, for instance (where intelligent algorithms can summarise discussions and action items in real-time), smart suggestions for follow-up actions, sentiment analysis, and even real-time language translation. Copilot, for instance, excels in providing contextual insights during meetings, while Duet focuses on enhancing participant engagement through interactive features.The potential impact of these AI advancements is profound. AI-driven tools can significantly reduce administrative burdens, allowing teams to focus on more strategic tasks. AI also helps to foster a more interactive and intelligent meeting environment, potentially improving how decisions are made and information is processed. With all of these new and AI-driven features on the horizon, promising automated minute-taking and intelligent insights, the future of video conferencing holds great potential. Businesses leveraging these technologies stand to gain not only in operational efficiency but also in creating a more connected, agile, and adaptive work environment. FAQsIs video conferencing free?Yes, many video conferencing platforms offer free versions with basic features. Popular platforms like Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams provide free plans, while more advanced functionalities may be available through paid subscriptions.How many people can join a video conference?The capacity for participants varies across platforms. Generally, free plans accommodate a certain number of participants, often around 50, while paid subscriptions offer higher limits. For example, Zoom's free plan allows 100 participants, whereas its paid plans can host up to 1000.Do you need a computer for video conferencing?While computers are commonly used for video conferencing, it's not the only option. Many platforms offer mobile apps, enabling participation through smartphones or tablets. However, a computer with a camera and microphone provides a more comprehensive experience, especially for business meetings or larger virtual gatherings. Share this post facebook twitter linkedin Written by: Stephanie Lennox Writer Stephanie Lennox is the resident funding & finance expert at Startups: A successful startup founder in her own right, 2x bestselling author and business strategist, she covers everything from business grants and loans to venture capital and angel investing. With over 14 years of hands-on experience in the startup industry, Stephanie is passionate about how business owners can not only survive but thrive in the face of turbulent financial times and economic crises. With a background in media, publishing, finance and sales psychology, and an education at Oxford University, Stephanie has been featured on all things 'entrepreneur' in such prominent media outlets as The Bookseller, The Guardian, TimeOut, The Southbank Centre and ITV News, as well as several other national publications.