Posts Tagged ‘online meetings’

Conduct meetings online with Bench

The corporate world is moving from physical to virtual offices. The days of going to office and attending important meetings are becoming fewer by the number. And why shouldn’t they be? With the increase in transport and logistics problems, everybody prefers to stay at home and finish their work from there. In the bargain, they save some precious travelling time. With this increasing trend, we hear more terms like work from home, freelancing, and so on.

While the problem of staying connected to the network is increasingly solved by better remote network solutions, the challenge lies in connecting with your clients. The audio/video toll-free bridges did solve the problem to some extent, but that was all they could do: share voice and video. The need urgently arose for more. Organizations were looking for not just interaction, but collaboration. People needed to not just see and hear but also share more data in real time.

The online market cottoned on to this need of the hour and a huge surge in the number of online collaboration tools and applications was witnessed. In the last few years, many such applications have been launched with their number still increasing.

With so many competent tools out there, how do you pick one? Well, we’re here to help! Today we bring to you the complete, tried-and-tested review of Bench. Read on to know if this online meeting platform can actually do what it claims: get shit done!

Benching with Bench

The highest selling point of Bench is that it works on a browser. That means you don’t have to worry about downloading the program, checking if it is compatible with your system, installing it, and encourage other people to download it. Just log on to your account in Bench and share the browser link with your meeting participants. It’s really that simple!

Think of the Bench as a physical work table that is used by all parties to work on and share what they are working on in real time. With Bench you can send text messages, make notes, share files, and even work on the files together as a team. And the best part of it all is that everything you do on the bench stays there unless you wish otherwise.

Let us take a look at some of the best features of Bench:

  • No more dialing-in business. With Bench, all you need to do is share your browser link with your team and you are set to collaborate.
  • Sending agendas on emails is in the past. You can make a note of things you wish to discuss with your team and share it with them before the meeting.
  • Bench comes with a whiteboard, so if during the meeting you need to sketch something out or just showcase your creativity, you can use the whiteboard to shine. Of course, everybody can work on the whiteboard simultaneously; that’s what collaboration is, isn’t it?
  • It allows you to share screenshots of single tabs, the whole desktop, whatever you need.
  • The files you want to share with the rest of the team can be saved before the meeting starts. The tool gives you the facility of creating folders and saving all your files in them. The folder is accessible by all participants.

The audio quality of Bench is out of this world. Give it a try, you will really feel like you are all working on a single work bench. The tool is a fun to work with and ensures full participation of all parties in the conference.

How to work with Bench

There’s no installer program that comes with Bench; just a light-weight extension that can be installed on your browser. It takes no more than a few seconds. There is a demo available on the tool’s website that you can check out to learn about it quickly. It doesn’t need to sign up too!

To start using the tool you need to create an account. Click on “sign up” on the top right corner and punch in your credentials to do that. Once you create an account, Bench gives you a dashboard with your benches listed on it. You can click the New Bench button in the right navigation pane to create a new bench. The bench you create will be displayed within your dashboard. Click on it to open it.

After you open the bench, click the Invite to talk button in the left navigation pane to share the link of your meeting with everybody else. To share files with your team, click the Add files button in the right navigation pane. You can drag-and-drop files into the tool’s interface, click to browse, or upload them via online platforms like Dropbox.

To create notes that you need to focus on in your next meetings or just points you need to remember, click the Note button. Clicking the Whiteboard button opens a drawing space with all the required drawing tools you might need. They’re pretty basic but then, to present more complex ideas you’d be using a proper presentation tool, right? Other options include New Folder creation and Streaming and Screenshot that allow you to show your browser and desktop to the other participants LIVE.

To go back to your dashboard, click on “My Benches” on the top left.

Pros VS Cons

Key benefits of the tool include:

  • The tool is free of cost so it’s ideal for freelancers and non-profit organizations. They have reasonably priced packages for teams as well as organizations.
  • Bench really does a good job at making remote working stress-free since everything is done in real-time.
  • The tool is completely collaboration-friendly; doesn’t need any installations.

Drawbacks include:

  • The first time you use Bench, you might get a little confused with so many things happening at once. But since the learning curve is pretty low, everything starts to make sense really soon.
  • We really wish it could work with mobile phones. While it does work on tablets, we are hoping mobile integration is somewhere on the roadmap.
  • Make online collaboration fun, with Bench usebench.com/ via @supermonitoring

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Final Take

Other than the few obvious limitations, we absolutely love Bench. And we totally encourage you to give it a chance. In our opinion, Bench could be better than any other collaborating app there exists today in the market.

Smooth screen sharing & web conferencing with join.me

Collaboration is the key to success in the modern world. Be it technology, design, or business, teams need to share their ideas and brainstorm in order to come up with the perfect product or service. As such, there’s no dearth of great tools that can provide an optimum platform for the same. But in a market practically overloaded with online, free utilities for the purpose, picking a trustworthy and competent one could be difficult.

joinme

Not actually, if you’ve got us to help you out! As always, we’re reviewing another brilliant online platform in this article. The tool in focus today is join.me; quite a popular name among collaboration tools.

Join.me – Collaborate better, online!

If you work in a distributed team, a simple task such as a status meeting could mean having everyone connected through conference calls. Imagine the kind of technical aspects that would need to be taken care of if you needed to demonstrate a design or a POC (proof of concept) or functionality to your counterparts or clients sitting in another country. You’ll need equipment to establish a secure connection, voice and image sharing tools and often screen sharing tools too. What if you could have all of that through one platform that comes with two major advantages – it’s free of cost and it doesn’t need any installations.

Join.me makes this possible. It is an instant online meeting solution that makes team-work easier than ever before. Screen sharing, audio / video conferencing and collaboration in a few clicks; that’s how simple it really is. The success mantra behind this platform is that it is easy to start, join and manage. And if you’re a viewer (not an active participant) in the meeting, you don’t even need to install anything on your machine. Just log on to the portal and choose to “Join a meeting”.

Here’s a look at the most prominent features of join.me:

  • The tool offers a new take on video conferencing. Called video bubbles, join.me facilitates light, floating visual images of you and other members. You can view live bubbles of one-another during meetings. You can even play with them (grab and bounce) if you’re bored!
  • User provisioning, tight policy and permission control, single-sign on, and detailed reporting, join.me is one of the most secure online meeting solutions.
  • It facilitates unlimited audio services using VoIP and dedicated conference lines in more than 40 countries. Includes audio conferencing by phone and Internet audio (VoIP) to enable you to see and hear everything in real time.
  • Gives users the freedom to join meeting from any device (desktops, laptops, tablets, or Smartphone) thus empowering your workforce to be more productive while on the move.
  • Allows you to record meetings so that you can refer to them later or share the recording with participants who missed them. To store recorded videos you’ll need a Pro account (5GB cloud storage) or an Enterprise account (5TB cloud storage).
  • One-click scheduler lets you set up meetings in advance. You can also choose to setup join.me meetings directly in Outlook or Google Calendar.
  • Swapping screens between presenters is super smooth too. One presenter can simply make any other participant the presenter so they can broadcast their screen with full control.
  • Offers you the control to personalize the link to join a meeting.
  • With join.me Pro account, you can add team members to make the whole experience more effective.

joinme2

Ranked number 1 in speed and ease of use, join.me has up to 90% of the fortune 500 companies among its user base. The service is ideal for sales demos, idea generation, external presentations and ad hoc get-togethers.

Tool Usage

To start using join.me for free, click on “Log in” on the upper right corner of the screen. First time users can then sign up for an account with LogMeIn services (creators or join.me). Once your account is created, you’ll see a pop-up asking you to start your Pro account trial. If you’re not ready to start with that yet, there’s an option to “skip” this step for now. Following screens are related to the Pro account as well so you can just let them be.

To get a glimpse of the action, start hosting a meeting or join a meeting through a smaller pop-up window just below the Pro account one. If you host a meeting, you’ll get a one-time code that you can share via email with other participants. To join a meeting, enter the one-time code that someone else shared with you via email. If you choose to host a meeting, you’ll need to download and install the join.me app on your machine. The download will begin automatically and once it completes, open it and start sharing your screen.

Pros VS Cons

Do we really need to revisit the plus points? Well, if you insist!

  • Instant screen sharing & video conferencing with VoIP
  • Online meetings with unlimited audio conferencing and more features for less than $20 per user / month that’s billed annually
  • Premium meetings with advanced management capabilities for less than $25 per user / month that’s billed annually
  • Smooth working on a variety of devices
  • Facility to record and save meetings
  • One-click meeting scheduler
  • Allows file transfer and presenter swapping

When it comes to pointing out the negative points of join.me they’re quite difficult to find. Except of course the fact that despite the claims of the tool to be number 1 in speed, the quality of the video or screen sharing will depend upon your internet connection speed.

  • Communicate using instant screen sharing and web conferencing through @joinme join.me/ via @supermonitoring

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Summing it up

All in all, join.me is one of the best collaboration tools in the market today. It’s simple and straightforward; a tool that actually focuses more on work and less on talk. So get productive!

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