Online buyer meetings, continuing education and digital listing presentations will become more popular than ever, even after coronavirus wanes. Here are some of the more popular virtual meeting options worth checking out.

Have suggestions for products that you’d like to see reviewed by our real estate technology expert? Email Craig Rowe.

Do you find yourself missing the frustration of the faulty lockbox or the sellers who refuse to put their dog away? It’s amazing how quickly we can miss the job’s daily annoyances.

Until the coronavirus threat wanes, the industry is online, and people still need to know what’s happening out there. Are interest rates really at 0 percent? (No.) Do I have to pay my mortgage? (Until it’s official, yes.) Can I put my home on the market? (Yes!)

Whether you’re meeting with clients, collaborating with colleagues or just need a little face time, here are some options for conducting business via online conference, something I’ve done here at Inman multiple times per week for five years. You’ve probably heard of all of them, but here’s this tech reviewer’s take on what makes one more worthy than another.

1. UberConference

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, UberConference has moved its free account user level from 10 people to 50. This can make educational webinars, group market updates and broker sales meetings much more doable.

Over the years, I’ve found UberConference to be the easiest to use and most consistently stable online meeting tool. The interface puts the most important buttons upfront and doesn’t confuse the user with unclear icons.

I admit to never being in a meeting big enough to need its voice-identification tool, but I bet it’s a super easy way to track who asked what during a well-attended meeting. Best of all? No downloads! Plus you can customize the wait-time music, which is a fun touch and makes UberConference the least clinical-feeling option.

2. Zoom

The highly popular Zoom is probably what I find most tech companies using to show me their software lately. But I don’t love it. It’s reliable, but the launch process gets confusing because of multiple window prompts, even after you’ve downloaded it (which I also don’t love because that means surprise updates seconds before your meeting has to start).

Free accounts can have up to 100 people for 40 minutes and unlimited one-on-one meetings.

Zoom has done an excellent job of supporting people new to online conferences and presenting in the era of distant business. Check out its blog for all kinds of tips and resources.

3. Google Hangouts/Meet

If you work in the Google ecosystem, there’s no doubt this is the most efficient way to video chat with another person who also has a Google account. Those without a Google account can join, too.

I dig how Meet gives the presenter the opportunity to share a single application instead of his or her entire screen. It’s ideal for scheduling ahead of time because everyone needs to only click a link, then hit “join.”

If you’re trying to start one quickly, though, the invite process is hidden behind a few more steps. Inman holds its weekly editorial meetings in Google Meet, and they go off without a hitch.

4. Join

Join’s first-time user setup is super quick and easy, walking you through a five-step account setup right on its homepage.

Copy your meeting link in Step 1, and paste it into any email or text to get things rolling. Join requires a web-app download, and it’s another one of those options that tend to surprise you with an update. (Participants don’t need to download it.) It can do audio or video conferences, and it makes screenshares easy. But in my opinion, it could use some interface touch-ups because the icons’ functions aren’t super clear.

I haven’t had the best luck in terms of connection stability with Join, but I’ve heard the opposite from some software vendors who love it. There’s no free account at this time. The lowest level is $10 per month for five participants. You can trial it for 14 days.

5. GoToMeeting

GTM is the one I’ve used the most, but like the least. This is more personal than practical because none of the above have left me waiting on an update before a meeting more often than GTM. I also find its in-meeting sidebar tedious, with too-small functions and superfluous visuals. Free accounts are limited to only audio, too.

I’m often in meetings meant for a few, when this tool is more suited to larger institutional-grade users. For $12 a month, you can have 150 people on a call, which makes it a good value for mid-size and large brokerages.

Other options out there include Skype, Facetime, WebEx and BlueJeans.

When considering an online meeting tool, look for one that makes it easy to mute others and doesn’t default to video sharing. Also, make sure that the time of your meeting overlaps with the platform’s account limitations.

It looks bad to clients to have a conference suddenly end in the middle of your best pitch, sort of like needing another quarter on an old public payphone. (Maybe we haven’t come that far?)

I’m not a fan of allowing automatic updates on software, in case you’re wondering why I’m plagued by patches and time-sucking updates moments before a call. It’s because they’re rarely critical but often ram-intensive. Thus, I guess I pay that price when it’s time for a meeting. Or, how about we stop making software that requires a patch or code touch-up every 20 minutes?

In summary, give UberConference a go first. It’s light, easy to manage, and meetings can be joined from a single-click from your clients’ calendar integration. It’s simply more fun and warmer.

Welcome to real estate from afar, where it’s more about location than ever before.

Have a technology product you would like to discuss? Email Craig Rowe

Craig C. Rowe started in commercial real estate at the dawn of the dot-com boom, helping an array of commercial real estate companies fortify their online presence and analyze internal software decisions. He now helps agents with technology decisions and marketing through reviewing software and tech for Inman. He lives near Lake Tahoe in the northern Sierra Nevada of California.

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