• Nonprofit Learning Lab

How to choose a platform for your live online meeting or training



We are all having to adjust large convenings, meetings and trainings to an online format. I wanted to share you some of our favorite platforms that we have actually used over the past several years and why we like them.


Cisco Webex Meeting

Cisco’s Webex program offers a user-friendly experience for businesses of all sizes and meetings of all kinds. Users may opt in to a meeting from the mobile app without dialing in, and participants can easily share content (i.e. documents, screen sharing) from their computer. Meeting leader can adapt their attendees' speaking/presenting privileges to suit their needs.


Features:

  • Web and video conferencing

  • File sharing

  • Real time chat

  • Hand Raising

  • Recording function

  • Screen Share

  • Easy to switch between speakers and presenters

Cons:

  • No mobile version (at least not yet)


Join.me

Join.me was one of the first platforms I ever used for online trainings. The user interface is simple. The main reason I used it was because the mobile app allows for a "mobile whiteboard" to share your ideas with colleagues in real time and it is visually pleasing. Join.me also offers a free option that allows up to 10 participants.


Features:

  • Presentation tools

  • Chat function

  • Recording function

  • File sharing

  • Real time chat

  • Hand Raising

  • Screen Share

  • Mobile Access


Cons: Some features require all attendees to have Join.Me app downloaded and there is no hand raising function.


Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts is a free add-on that comes with your Google account through Google Suite. This program does not require additional downloads for most users (besides a browser extension) and allows for up to 10 participants for free. Hangouts may be a good choice if you are already reliant on a Google platform for all of your document sharing and need a simple way to communicate remotely while collaborating.


Features:

  • Chat function

  • Recording function

  • File sharing

  • Real time chat

  • Screen sharing

  • Video


Cons: Probably better for a meeting than a training since platform has less bells and whistles than other when it comes to functionality of online training needs.


GotoWebinar

GotoWebinar is a professional, user-friendly program that focuses on planning and managing webinars. This is our favorite platform and allows for hosts/meeting leaders to do all the tech management so that presenters can focus on presenting their content. The analytics on participant behavior are really helpful especially if you have to assess learning.


Features:

  • Question from audience

  • Recording function

  • File sharing

  • Screen sharing

  • Video

  • Polls

  • Automated transcripts

  • Event analytics


Cons: It is expensive and doesn't offer a chat function among participants. for small webinar-based businesses and does not offer a chat function.


Zoom

Zoom is highly-rated and easy program to use for chat and video conferencing. There are a lot of options for customizing your meetings to meet your needs, whether they be audio conferences, virtual classrooms, video interviews, or anything else.


Features:

  • Whiteboarding

  • Screensharing

  • Video

  • Recording function

  • Chat function

  • Easy to use


Cons: You have to download an app


To truly understand a lot of what we mean by the features and our dislikes --- you have to test each of these platforms. And to be really honest, the free versions of these platforms generally don’t have all the functionality that you need. Humans crave social interaction, so online learning, training and meetings require the host/leader to put significantly more effort into the planning process to make it a great experience. And the paid features typically provide interactive elements that you need to make your online experience better for all. Pay for the platform, it will provide you a better experience.


Find a platform that you like and feel comfortable using. It will make the experience better for you. As you become more comfortable with online training and meetings, you will forget about the platform entirely and just be able to engage with your audience.


Interested in learning how to lead a better online meeting or training? Join us at our upcoming online workshops How to Lead Better Online Meetings and Trainings. Find out more at www.nonprofitlearninglab.org/onlinetraining





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