Free & Almost Free Web Tools for Better Meetings
Social change requires innovation. Today’s innovation in technology is fueling how we improve the world. Think Kiva, Ushahidi, Kickstarter, Facebook, DonorsChoose, and Twitter to name just a few. To kick off 2011, we’ve compiled our favorite low-cost or free productivity tricks – or “life hacks” – available on the web that you should consider exploring (if you’re not already!).
Today we’ll feature some free and almost free tools that can help organizations and collaborators have richer and more productive meetings. Do you use other meeting tools we should add to the list? Tweet to @fentonprogress, and tag with #lifehack.
Lisa Witter, Chief Strategy Officer
I don’t know about you, but I work with beautiful people – literally. I prefer seeing people’s facial expressions, their smiles, and looks of surprise or concern. It makes for better meetings and more fun (usually).
I was excited when Skype officially launched “group video calling” at the latest Consumer Electronics Show (tech geeks’ version of Disneyland). Skype’s group video calling makes it easy to bring together groups of three or more people on a single video call. A day pass is $4.99; a monthly subscription is $8.99.
While it will never replace in-person meetings, it can save travel time and cost. And it gives much more life to the boring old phone call (although you’ll be caught if you’re multi-tasking!).
At Fenton, we think impatience is a virtue. Why? It takes time to end hunger, empower women, and ensure our kids have clean air. We’d rather use our time achieving those goals with our clients than losing it to major time sucks, like scheduling meetings. We’ve all experienced those frustrating circular emails to organize eight busy folks on one conference call. Solution: Doodle. It’s free and easy. The organizer picks several times and date possibilities, and folks simply click on the ones that work. With a quick glance you can see who’s in and when. Also, I love the name – it’s a nickname I gave my husband more than 10 years ago.
Julie Leung, Account Coordinator
Rather than play email tag all day long, sometimes it’s best to just sit everybody at their phones for a good old-fashioned conference call. For an affordable (i.e. FREE) way to conduct these gatherings, FreeConference.com is a no-hassle conference call service that allows its users to set up a call via a quick online form. You just input your logistics, how many people, the duration of the call, etc., and the site will spit out a phone number and access code for you to share with your participants. Presto!
Marshall Maher, Account Director
Tired of clients jumping ahead of you during presentations you email them before conference calls? Use Yuuguu and walk them through it together – using a shared screen in real-time for a more compelling experience. One of the best rated and easy-to-use screen sharing applications, Yuuguu is constantly finding ways to enhance its screen sharing services. Group presentations (up to 29) and screen sharing is a snap with its easy interface. Yuuguu can be augmented by using it in combination with Skype video chatting and should be strong enough to handle all your needs.
One of the earliest entrants into the desktop sharing field, GoToMeeting has advanced functionality that Yuuguu lacks. For instance, GoToMeeting allows you to just share one application while Yuuguu has the entire screen (watch for that embarrassing pop-up email during the presentation!). As the meeting organizer, you can record the meeting, change presenters, share specific documents, etc. However, GoToMeeting is not as cheap as others – around $470 for an annual plan (versus the $80 for Yuuguu). It has a much more professional interface but also a lot of bells and whistles you may not need – so take a look at Yuuguu first.