It’s not always easy to get everyone who’d like to be there to attend an event in person, especially when participants are spread across the globe. As a result, virtual events are becoming an ever more popular solution.
Whether it’s a one-off event, a multi-day conference, or a business meeting, the most critical decision you can make is choosing which platform you use to host it on.
The best virtual event platforms include advanced features that enable you to make your virtual gathering as multi-faceted, engaging, and memorable as a physical equivalent.
In this article, we review the best virtual event platforms available, providing you with the information you need to decide on the right provider for your next virtual meeting.
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Since its launch in 2013, Zoom has grown into one of the most popular video event platforms around. Just as capable of handling business conferences as casual gatherings between friends, Zoom has widespread appeal.
Zoom’s desktop app is intuitive and easy to navigate, while the software is packed with features. You get HD video and voice, simultaneous screen sharing, MP4 or M4A recording, keyboard and mouse control, whiteboarding, and even breakout rooms. The Zoom mobile app is also very capable for meetings on the go.
It’s incredibly secure too and uses secure socket layer (SSL) and AES 256 bits encryption.
The platform’s free plan is generous, enabling users to host up to 100 participants on a video call, capped at 40 minutes, with all video conferencing, web conferencing, and group collaboration features included.
The cheapest paid plan starts at $13.99 per host per month and includes optional meeting add-ons for larger groups, 1GB of cloud recording, and a 24-hour meeting duration limit.
Google Meet is Google’s answer to video conferencing. As you would expect from one of the world’s leading tech companies, Google Meet is packed with features that match or even exceed those of its rivals.
As of May 2020, this service is free of charge—the only caveat is that you need a Gmail account. Prior to this, Google Meet was part of G-Suite, a range of business-focused apps that users could access with a paid plan.
So what’s on offer? Google Meet is accessible through a clean, easy-to-use desktop app or mobile application, includes HD video, one-click presenting functionality, advanced security measures like secure encryption and privacy features, and facilitates up to 250 participants.
It’s incredibly easy to arrange a meeting, and participants just need a code to join. The service also integrates with Google Calendar, so you can schedule meetings and invite participants via this app too.
Unlike Google Meet, which went from a paid to free service, Join.me has gone the other way, and it’s now compulsory to pay to use it. The Lite plan is very basic and doesn’t offer a great deal in terms of features. Our advice would be to skip it and go straight for the Pro option.
Join.me’s Pro plan costs $20 per month and, on top of regular features, includes up to 250 participants, recording options, 10 webcam streams, call scheduling, and 50 GB cloud storage.
The interface is nicely presented with the key functions— start or join a meeting—unmissable. In addition, the admin panel is incredibly detailed, with easy access to call reports, recordings, user data, and more.
The one downside is the meeting participant limit. Although 250 may be more than enough for most virtual meetings, it might not cut it at the conference level.
What make Whereby stand out are its features. This well-designed virtual meeting platform combines quirky with clever, providing a unique service that stands out visually and technically.
On Whereby, users create rooms for different purposes. For example, you could create a room for team talks, a personal space for one-on-one chats, or a larger room to host a more challenging virtual event.
The platform enables meetings of up to 50 participants, which is very low, but the platform’s advanced branding features make up for it. You get the option to brand your room with custom designs and logos and can even create a custom domain name. We can see the benefits of this for users keen to showcase their business at a more intimate virtual event.
The desktop app is clean and easy to navigate, with just a few tabs to the left of the screen. Rooms are presented in list form on the home screen, and it’s very straightforward to find the one you’re looking for.
The Business plan costs a substantial $59.99 a month. Still, if you need a branded space, it could well be worth the expense.
Formerly Skype for Business Online, Microsoft Teams is another well-established virtual meeting platform that’s benefited from a recent rebrand.
Microsoft's answer to a virtual conferencing platform is formidable. Although at first glance it seems better aimed at remote teams, with Slack-like file sharing and instant chat facilities, the option to host up to 10,000 people on a single call puts Microsoft Teams up a notch.
Participants can join a meeting via a link, while other features include HD video, screen sharing, recording, and third-party app integration.
We found the web app very responsive, with all the platform’s features within easy reach. However, the interface was a little complicated and not as streamlined as those of some of the other platforms we tested.
The enterprise plan, Office 365 E3, costs $20 per user per month and gives you access to the full functionality of Microsoft Teams.