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4 Free Video Conferencing Options

Tue, May 15, 2012 10:04 AM | Deanna Tharpe (Administrator)

By Deanna Tharpe, DSAIA Executive Director

Your board is busy. They have work-related trips that keep them away from your board meeting. They are at the mercy of a sitter who cancels at the last minute or a child who came home sick from school that day. They live on the fringes of your service area and fuel costs are high, time expense is higher. So how do you make it easier for your board members to attend your meetings? Conference calls, of course! Oh, wait….don’t you hate conference calls where people talk over each other and you can’t SEE their body language or even tell if they’re paying attention? Video conferencing! Yes, that’s the ticket!

In the Six in Sixty webinar presented last week, we discussed some video conferencing options that are FREE. Yes, FREE. I thought this topic was one that needed to be shared for every Down syndrome group interested in bolstering board meeting attendance while still keeping costs down.  Here are five options (again, all free) for your group to consider:

  1. Skype. Good ol’ Skype. It’s reliable. Most people either already have it or can download it easily. It integrates with Facebook so yes, a lot of people already have it. It’s free for a one-on-one conversation.  You have to pay if you want to more, though. For a day, $4.99. For a month, the premium service is $9.99 or cheaper if you pay annually.  So, if you only have one board member that can’t make the meeting, it works well.  The limit is 10 attendees but they recommend that you keep it to 5 for quality.
  2. ooVoo.  I really like ooVoo.  It’s free for up to 12 people and the free service still has call recording. The premium service comes with no ads, screen sharing and support and is $4.99 per month. ooVoo also has Video Chat Rooms, which is cool if you want to offer that on your website to talk to parents or professionals at any time without setting up a webinar or downloading software.
  3. Google+ Hangouts. Up to 9 people can video chat on a Google+ Hangout. And it is free.  However, everyone has to be in Google+ for this to work. I like that the person talking comes up on the top of the screen in a bigger frame while the others stay lined up at the bottom of the screen. (Ok, that’s just me liking the coolness of it.)
  4. Faceflow. Faceflow allows up to 4 people to video chat at no charge. What is different about Faceflow is that it is web-based, so there’s no download or installation required. There is no premium option for Faceflow and you can share video.

Here’s a couple of other options for you that will COST you some dough which I would be negligent not to mention:

  1. Gotomeeting HD Faces. Yes, Citrix will allow you to video chat now using their meeting software. You can purchase Gotomeeting or Gotowebinar inexpensively at Techsoup, but it’s not something I would purchase unless I was planning on hosting webinars since there are a lot of other free  options.
  2. BigMarker. I love BigMarker…because their “virtual conference rooms” have a whiteboard option and video chat features. However, unless you want to pay $19.95/month, your “community” is not private. Not a good option for board meetings but a great option for a presentation or speaker function that you want to share with your group that might be far away (think outlying areas).

So, there you go.  One more thing before I leave you to do your research (which I totally expect you to do on your own rather than take MY opinions as your own)…  And I’m almost ashamed to say this to you…but…remember that you have to have a webcam to use these services. (I know…see I’m embarrassed.)  But, you can get one at Wal-Mart for less than $30.  I’d love to hear about other resources I’ve missed here and how you use these type of services in your organization.  Good luck with your video conferencing!

I want to tell you what WONDERFUL time I had at the conference. I learned so much and came away with lots of ideas for our organization. -Barb Waddle, The Upside of Downs of Northeast Ohio

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