Running meetings online is becoming more of a reality for today’s mobile workers. And if you outsource any of your work to other companies or freelancers, online meetings are an even larger necessity. But if you use the highest-quality meeting software and equipment, costs can be steep. When it comes to cutting costs, cutting down on the cost of online conferencing can be a great way to save.
Start with free software
Basic software like Skype is all you need to chat – with a camera, with voice, or just with text – with widespread employees or contractors. This is a great place to start when you’re conducting small online meetings, since it’s free.
In fact, you may be able to cut back on many of the costs simply by scaling your meetings down as much as possible. If you don’t really need to have a whole team in on a meeting with a contractor, don’t put them all in the meeting. Greater connection and equipment needs are guaranteed to make meetings with more people cost more money.
Whenever possible, scale your meetings down so that your laptop’s built-in microphone and camera are all you need to Skype with the person on the other end. The more you take advantage of free conferencing services, the cheaper your online meetings will become.
Work with scalable, customizable services
If you need a better video link because you’re working with clients you want to impress or conducting a larger meeting with more people, choose the service that best suits your needs. There are tons of companies out there today who provide online conferencing solutions for small businesses and huge corporations alike.
The key is to choose a scalable service that lets you only pay for what you need, in terms of web conferencing. Pay for fully optimized, interactive web conferencing only when you need it, and use less costly services in other situations.
Many services, like A+ Conferencing or SightSpeed by Logitech are paid on a monthly basis. But unless you’re going to conduct many important or large meetings, the monthly cost may be too much. Make sure you’re going to get your money’s worth out of a service, and choose a service where you pay per-use if you’ll only use it once or twice a month.
Try buying equipment used
There are some basic pieces of equipment you’ll need for large-scale meetings and webinars. For one-to-one meetings or other small conferences, your laptop’s built-in camera and a headset with a microphone will suffice. But if you want to set up high-quality video conferences involving lots of people, you’ll need more equipment than that.
Large, high-definition webcams and video conferencing kits can be expensive, though. One way to get around this cost, or at least to lower it somewhat, is to buy used equipment. Check with other businesses who are upgrading their equipment, or look on eBay.
You might be surprised at the equipment you can buy for a great price because it’s used. As with other tech-related goodies, businesses and individuals often replace equipment before it’s really necessary just because there’s something shiny and new on the market.
Online conferencing is a great way for your business to start saving money. One study showed that it takes 1,000 hours of online conferencing to use the same amount of electrical energy as driving an hour to a meeting. Plus, web conferencing can help your small business offer employees a great benefits package – without raising pay – by allowing them to telecommute.
However, you should use these tips to keep the cost of the online meetings themselves from getting out of hand.