The Top 5 Best Free Video Conferencing Software 2021

07/10/2021

To point out the obvious, video conferencing software has exploded. The use of video conferencing software has risen by 500% in the past year alone. The main benefits being you can connect with colleagues and clients anywhere in the world, employees can share their screen to discuss important work documents, and how can you not love starting every sentence with "can you hear me?".

That said, there are so many free video conferencing software tools out there. Running my minute taking service Speedy Minutes, I've come across them all, so here are my top picks of the best free video conferencing software:

Learn more about Speedy Minutes here.

1. Google Meet

As far as "free" goes, Google Meet is the most cost-saving software that I've seen. It really upped its ante in 2020 and gave users a lot of advanced options for its free offering. Not only is it free if you have a Google account, but you can add as many participants as you want for however long you wish. Moreover, you can quickly share the Google calendar invite to those that you wish to participate, and away you go! My most favourite feature of Google Meet is that you can test the camera and microphone right before you go in.

Highlights:

  • Intuitive, clean, reliable, and easy to use.

  • Unlimited participants and time duration.

  • Google Calendar integration.

  • Easily share the screen.

  • Advanced camera and microphone testing.

  • Video meeting recordings.

  • Chatbox.

  • Blur background.

  • Provides real-time subtitles.

  • Data consumption is minimal.

  • Breakout room, polls, Q&A options are an added advantage.

Downsides:

  • Users need a Google account to log on to a meeting.

  • Private chat should be made available.

  • Can pick up background noise easily.

  • The video quality is grainy in comparison to fellow rival software.

  • Users do not have the option to "raise their hand".

2. Zoom

Zoom is the figurehead of all conferencing software. You couldn't go anywhere in 2020, without hearing the word 'Zoom'. With its modern and advanced features, it's easy to see why. Moreover, users can get 40-minutes on the house. Therefore, if you keep your meetings short and sweet, I can highly recommend this software for the following reasons:

Highlights:

  • Good camera quality.

  • Advanced host controls.

  • Participants can 'raise hand' and ask to speak.

  • Screen sharing.

  • Host up to 100 participants.

  • Chatbox

  • Customizable backgrounds

  • An intuitive interface easily allows you to schedule meetings.

  • Highly secure - with the option to generate a password to access a meeting.

Downsides:

  • You only get 40-minutes for free.

  • Requires a strong internet connection.

  • Waiting room customization is basic.

  • It requires all users to sign up for Zoom.

  • You are unable to blur your background on the free offering.

3. MS Teams

Another big name in the video conferencing world is Microsoft Teams. I include this lower down in the list, as in my experience as a minute taker, I've noticed that MS Team's interface isn't very intuitive. Although, once you get accustomed to it, you're left with a very good meeting tool.

Highlights:

  • Screen sharing.

  • The ability to 'raise your hand'.

  • Document sharing.

  • Video meeting recordings.

  • Advanced host controls.

  • Chatbox

Downsides:

  • The software is not intuitive, and many feel that is it complicated to use.

  • The free version only offers 60-minutes on the house.

4. FreeConference

FreeConference is a newbie to the video conference world, and it has a lot to offer. Unlike some conferencing tools, you can join a meeting through your browser. This software is more suited to smaller teams, as only five people can be on the call at once.

Highlights:

  • Log in through a browser.

  • Screen sharing.

  • No time limit.

  • Chatbox

  • Advanced moderator controls.

  • Provides replays of the meeting to those that could not attend.

  • Easy sign-up.

Downsides:

  • Only five people on the call at once.

  • The customer service is lacking.

  • Requires a strong internet connection.

5. Skype

Possibly the 'OG' of video conferencing is Skype. Launched in 2003, it pioneered video conferencing technology to the world, and perhaps the video conferencing world would not be the same without it. Although its name isn't as recognizable as Zoom, its free offering has a lot to offer and should not be missed.

Highlights:

  • Log in through a browser.

  • Chatbox

  • Ability to transfer files via chat.

  • No time limit.

  • Up to 100 participants.

  • Screen sharing.

Downsides:

  • The interface is complicated and is not intuitive like its rivals.

  • Video quality can "stagger" during calls.

  • It needs to be updated often. This could be a problem if you have a 10 am meeting, log in at 9:57, and find you have to wait 20 minutes for it to finish updating!

Conclusion

In my time as a minute taker, I have tried them all. On the grounds of the best free software, I would have to say Google Meet is the best - simply as there's no time limit for meetings. In this day and age, meetings are getting longer and longer, so that is truly invaluable. Moreover, it has some brilliant free features, such as the ability to blur your background.

However, if you do have some money to spare (£15 a month), then Zoom is definitely worth it as the camera quality supersedes all other software that I have tried. As well as the fact, it is a highly intuitive software and easy to use.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels.