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We Have to Start Meeting Like This: How the Cloud is Making the Conference Room Obsolete

We have to start meeting like thisPart of the experience of working in a world of mobile tech is that your meetings are no longer conference-room bound.

Instead, you can bring together people from anyplace, using a virtual space that opens your team up to possibilities that once required a lot more time and money.

Want to sit down with your graphics designer in San Francisco, but also pull in your head of marketing who’s at an expo this week in Toronto? And you’re in New York? With the help of cloud computing, you can.

Cloud conferencing allows users to share information and makes meetings a multimedia experience. This isn’t a teleconference with disembodied voices bouncing off the walls of a teleconference. Attendees can work with all the documents, sound, and images — the real-time collaboration that you’re used to in a physical space.

So, how do you get your small-business on board with meeting software? And how much is all this going to cost, anyway? Let’s take a quick trot around the course of cloud conference technology, noting some of the platforms out there in the online-meeting world, especially those that put your small-business budget in the front seat and allow you to work for low costs or for free.

1. MeetingKing 

If all you need is a basic way to participate as a team from individual screens, MeetingKing is a free way to get started along that path. Beginning with its nuts-and-bolts public meeting space, if you wish you can later pick from a suite of paid monthly programs. The top-end version of the app costs about $125 per month.

At its most elaborate, you’re looking at packed-in templates for creating agendas and minutes and customizable graphics such as logos. Each meeting gets archived for a period of time — from three months to forever — depending on the package that you choose.

2. MeetingSense

MeetingSense can take your online conference to yet another level. In includes task-allocation and tracking features, and communications- and member-update options that create connectivity between the pre-, during, and post-meeting experience.

And MeetingSense’s pricing is scalable. You pay approximately $20 per member, per month. So you can implement the app by assigning it to particular team members within a particular timeframe. Start it when you need it, turn it off when you’re done.

3. AgreeDo

This app approaches cloud conferencing with a similar suite of tools to the preceding example, but it provides them for free. From keeping track of decisions and documents, to getting those needed documents to everyone once the meeting is done, you can’t really beat the number of options at this the price. The company suggests that for-pay features may be forthcoming, but for now users get access to everything without a charge.

4. Minutes.io 

Say you don’t need a whole suit of cloud conference services, and you haven’t the time to learn a whole software system.

If it’s simply minutes and to-do lists you’re looking to create, and you want the ability to push them to participants and link them to other software applications along the line, check out the free Minutes.io app.

Presenting an intuitive and tablet-friendly environment, your end result is an interactive doc that shows tasks, decisions, and ownerships at a glance. It gets stored locally on your browser, so even if the meeting you’re in hasn’t got an Internet connection, they’ll live in stasis, awaiting publication, until you’re in a Wi-Fi zone again.

 

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