Over the past few weeks, weather has kept me away from my face-to-face engagements, so I have been trying out some new platforms and spaces that allow me to connect with my clients when I can not be there in person.

I’ve found the following to be especially helpful:

Join.me allows you to instantly invite others to a conversation, presentation or project and  share your screen with everyone in the room.  There is no sign up, registration, fancy equipment or log-in hassle. Just send them a quick link and within seconds your co-collaborators have access to your screen and vise versa.

I would say the only critical thing that join.me is missing is the ability to support video sharing and free “dial in” packages with VoIP quality. You can get around both those issues by adding Skype, Google Voice or Video platform in conjunction with join.me.

Elluminate – This platform is strong in the education market, but has some terrific uses for the business meetings as well.  The real time meeting and presentation space allows for audio, video, live chat, and link sharing concurrently. There is an option and opportunity to hold the meeting on a synchronous basis where all team members or clients join you in the same virtual space, or you can can offer asynchronous options by recording the session.

This was a session I did recently, and now I am able to offer the presentation slides, the live chat transcript, the audio and video recording as well as all the links shared by participants in the audience.

The downside of Elluminate is it’s learning curve. Not everyone is comfortable interacting virtually. Although there is an extensive array online training tutorials, it is something that you will need to walk new clients and colleagues through.

Once you get the hang of it, Elluminate is a great option for:

  • Creating a virtual meeting or classroom
  • Offering prerecorded staff meetings, lectures, or training
  • Facilitating a workshop or on-going training
  • Conduct tutorial sessions for new products and materials that can be recorded and reviewed
  • Offering virtual office hour

TokBox – While there are plenty of  great video chat products out there on the market, (and I love Skype); most of them require at least some software download to the computer. What I really like about TokBox is the simplicity.It allows you to set up a video chat channel in seconds, and if the person is not there, you can just leave a video message.

You can invite up to 20 participants to join you in a chat, conference call or meeting and then use the chat box to take notes or minutes. This platform has some kinks. as it kicks in and out from time to time, but is a great alternative for those looking for a “Skype-like” platform.

So, don’t give up on meetings when you can’t make it in person, give virtual a try. The tools will never replace our face to face time with clients and customers, but they can  improve your productivity, and  will certainly shrink your travel budget.

Social Biz does a great job sizing up the top 15 Web conferencing and collaborating services, but I want to hear from you. What makes your virtual meeting rock?

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About Angela Maiers

Angela Maiers

Angela is an active blogger, social media evangelist , and passionate advocate for bridging the gap between business and education. She is a recognized educational leader, trainer, and author. She is the owner and Chief Learning Officer at Maiers Educational Services, a company emphasizing the creative use of technology and social media to advance learning; in and out of the classroom.

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Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://mytwittertoolbox.com David Perdew

    Seems like we've come a long way from the teleconferencing days, when having an online conference meant getting everyone in a room to talk by phone with another group many miles away. These two tools will likely make it easier for us to connect with a face when we can't be there in person. Thanks for covering these tools for us.

    • http://twitter.com/AngelaMaiers Angela Maiers

      David- Isn't that the truth! It is a whole new world of virtual meetings and connections! The tools I use have to be easy and free…'cause nothing else in my life is! Try them out, and let me know what you think. Be sure to add your own favorites, too!

  • http://www.frank-hamm.com Frank Hamm

    Hint: The link behind “TokBox” points to http://thinklinkr.com/ instead of http://me.tokbox.com/ :-)

  • http://twitter.com/iMeetTweet iMeet

    What a great article. Video conferencing is making the world a much smaller (and much more personal) space. At iMeet we connect people through phone, video, and personality. We'd love it if you gave a try sometime.

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  • http://twitter.com/BelindasBuzz Belinda Parrish

    Angela -
    Thank you for this post about the different ways to collaborate. I am very new to social media and feel that I am way behind. Thank you for educating me about ways to improve!

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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NZSHZF64UGGB7YI3FPG47SVPLE Maria Jones

    GoMeetNow ( http://www.gomeetnow.com ) combines all these three tools together also including video conferencing and free audio conferencing with VoIP quality. You could have online meetings, presentations or training across different operating systems.