In times like these, we must roll
with the changes. While we can’t go out for dinner with friends or sit in a
conference room for a meeting, we are fortunate to live in a digital age where
we can still have face-to-face contact.
There are many free tools out there
that allow you to have video chats with friends, family, and coworkers. It pays
to take the time to learn about them and determine which one(s) might be best
for us in different situations.
Video Conferencing Options
FaceTime is an easy option if all
parties have an Apple device or computer and are signed in with their Apple ID.
It comes preinstalled, so there is no downloading or set-up required.
Open the FaceTime app to get started.
Tap the ＋ symbol in the upper right corner to add a person you want to call.
Keep adding everyone you want to be in your group. FaceTime allows up to 32
people on a call.
Zoom is a popular video conferencing
choice for business. It can be used for personal video chats also. To use Zoom,
you must download the app to your computer, tablet, or phone.
Zoom has been very popular because
you don’t need an account to participate. You only need to create an account if
you want to host meetings.
Using the free option, you can host
up to 100 participants. Beware though. If you have more than two people, you
are limited to 40 minutes. If you want to chat for longer than 40 minutes, you
must upgrade to the paid option or stop and restart the call.
The free option also lets you record
a session and share a screen during the call. Zoom for business users has many
different features, including the ability to set up breakout rooms.
One of the most popular mobile social
apps in the world is WhatsApp. It is primarily used for instant messaging and
uses end-to-end encryption. Another feature of WhatsApp is its video conference
With WhatsApp you are limited to four
people at a time for video group calling. It works on Apple and Android phones
and Windows (8 and above) and Mac. It requires set-up on the phone first. All
users must be signed up for WhatsApp accounts.
Skype is one of the original video
chat apps. It allows up to 50 people at a time and the ability to record and
screen share with no fees. Skype works with any type of phone, tablet, or
To begin with Skype, you have to
sign-up and download the app on every device you want to use. All users must
have Skype accounts to use this app.
Viber is another fully encrypted
texting app that has applications for your smartphone, tablet, and computer and
can be used across all platforms. Like WhatsApp, you have to set-up your
account on the phone first.
You can only video chat with one
person at a time and everyone must have the app on their device and an account
A popular option for those who have
Google accounts (Gmail) is Hangouts. It’s free and you can have up to 25 people
at once. Everyone needs to have the app on their device and be logged into
Any of the above apps are good
options to start a video chat. There are many other services or apps, but these
are the most popular. Which one(s) you might use will depend on who you want to
get together with and their level of tech know-how.
A vital element to using video is a
strong connection to high-speed internet. Slow internet speeds or a spotty
connection will be frustrating for everyone, and it won’t allow you to be seen
or to see others.
Video Conferencing Etiquette
Whatever platform you choose, there
is some general etiquette to follow to ensure a pleasant experience for
can hear what goes into your mic. As a general practice, it’s an excellent idea
to MUTE your microphone when you join a session. Any noise in the background
that you may be unaware of will be picked up, and everyone will be disturbed.
there are others in your living area, go to a private space that is quiet and
won’t ruin the video chat for everyone.
you are listening to a presentation on Zoom, and the presenter has your
microphone muted, use the “raise hand” feature to ask a question.
is used so that people can connect and feel like they are together. Present
yourself, at least the portion that is visible, like you would in a regular,
face-to-face event. Who you are conferencing will determine how much you
need to dress or be presentable.
“chat” feature is not to have a side discussion with others. It
should be used for questions related to the conference only.
Have you been thrust into using video
chat for personal or business needs? How’s it been going? What problems have
you experienced? What video conferencing platforms are your favorite? Let’s
have a discussion!