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Video Conferencing Options: My Quick Take

For the uninitiated, Zoom, Skype, Google Meet, WebEx, GoToMeeting, FaceTime, and a myriad of others are online video conferencing systems. Choosing which to use can be quite overwhelming. For me, the biggest factor is how easy it is for other people to connect. That comes down to whether they need an account and whether they need to download something.

Here’s my quick take on the major players.


Zoom, Google Meet, and WebEx do not require every participant to have an account. Only the host needs an account and other participants do not. The host will send a link to all the invitees and they join by clicking the link.

Skype requires accounts, FaceTime requires Apple devices, and GoToMeeting requires a software download. So, if you’re going to be meeting with people outside your organization, I recommend any of the former.

What you get for Free

For Zoom, the person who serves as host needs an account–probably a paid account. According to their website (https://zoom.us/pricing), the free version limits calls to 40 minutes if you have more than two participants. So, you get a warning as the 40-minute mark approaches and have to disconnect and reconnect the call. Another thing to consider is that Zoom requires a software download. So, if you have technologically not-so-savvy participants, this might be a small hurdle for them.

Why is Zoom so popular? Honestly, I’m not certain that there’s a good reason. Well, there is one. Zoom will let you create “rooms” for participants to have side meetings in breakout groups. If you need that feature (and most people don’t), Zoom is uniquely the way to go. Also, Zoom allows you to see the most faces (they say up to 49) at one time.

Google Meet (https://meet.google.com) also requires the host to have a G Suite (e.g., paid) account. I have a paid account as a leader in my church, Life Connection. G Suite is Google’s group access to the Google office suite (i.e., Sheets, Docs, Slides). No other participant needs a Google account, though. To join, participants click on a link and open the conference call in their browser. Note that Google has another offering called Hangouts (actually, the predecessor to Meet) but it requires all participants to have Google accounts.

WebEx (https://webex.com) also requires the host to have an account but not the other participants. I have a paid account through my company, Paygevity. However, you can get a WebEx account for free. Like Zoom, they had limited free calls to 40 minutes but lifted this limitation in order to compete. Similarly, participants click on a link and join via their browsers. For simplicity and price, I think WebEx is the best option.

Dial in

All the services have dial-in numbers, but it is strongly recommended that we use the video connection because (1) it promotes more connectedness to see each other, and (2) some systems have warned that dial-in connections may be unreliable due to increased volume.

Hope this helps

It looks like we’re going to be at these online meetings for a while. I hope this helps you make your decision.