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Online meeting technology options for tax season and beyond

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Given the need to work remotely, technology has changed the game by providing a platform for online meetings that present incredible features and versatility. The days of running around town or flying halfway across the country just to attend a brief client meeting may neither be possible nor necessary.

With a number of tools and applications at your fingertips, such as instant messaging, whiteboarding, video connectivity and collaboration, and web conferencing, you can conduct meetings with your clients anywhere, anytime, and with many people at the same time. You can also create a great experience that brings your clients and staff together in one place, providing efficiency and endless opportunities for ideas, innovation and strategic client service.

Here are some popular online meeting applications for consideration.

Zoom. Zoom allows up to 1,000 participants and up to 10,000 to watch. The platform features many ways to communicate with your team or clients, including by meeting or chat, video webinar, phone, conference room, or through the app. The app’s four plans include basic, pro, business and enterprise. The latter two plans offer more dynamic and powerful features, such as company branding, custom emails and cloud recording transcripts.

Google Hangouts. Ideal for smaller teams, Google Hangouts allows for group video chat with a maximum of 10 people on a smartphone or by computer through Chrome. Features include instant messaging and video chats with maps, emojis, GIFs and more, as well as the ability to call any phone number in the world. The platform offers video and audio conferencing with one-click scheduling across the scheduler, Outlook or Google Calendar. In addition, mobile white boarding allows for collaboration, real-time discussion and presenter swap.

Cisco WebEx. More than 130 million people per month across the globe attend a WebEx meeting, according to Cisco. The four-tiered platform versions include Starter, Plus, Business and Enterprise. All plans incorporate video conferencing, mobile capability, Facebook Live streaming, security features and integration with calendars, Microsoft teams, Slack, and Workplace by Facebook.

GoToMeeting. Another powerful and popular online meeting place, GoToMeeting, also offers four versions: Starter, Pro, Plus and Enterprise, ranging from up to 10, 150, 250 and 2,000 participants per meeting, respectively. Benefits in all versions include HD video conferencing, unlimited meetings and screen sharing. The latter three versions dig deeper with drawing tools, unlimited recording, and other features.

Microsoft Teams. Microsoft Teams is a chat-based collaboration platform, equipped with document sharing and storage, online videoconferencing, app integration, a cloud-based phone system called Business Voice, and more. The platform can handle teams of all sizes. While the free plan allows for 100 participants and an hour of meeting time, the next two plans allow for 300 people and 24 hours of meeting time, and the biggest plan can host 10,000 participants for up to 24 hours.

No matter what time of the year, keep these online application in mind. Don’t give up in-person meetings, but consider these options to maximize everyone’s time.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published Oct. 19, 2016, and republished with updates on June 11, 2019, March 23, 2020, and March 29, 2021. Technology has also enabled innovations in tax planning and preparation. Take a look at the Intuit® Tax Pro Center article “Learn How Connectivity Tools Can Transform Your Practice!” for more information.