When it comes to virtual meetings, there are a ton of options out there. A lot of the options would work great, but they either require all users to be part of a “network” or the presenter to pay large fees to use the service. Since our racing team’s budget doesn’t justify a paid-for option and our frequency of needing a virtual meeting service is not very high, Join.Me really appealed for our meeting.
Setting up a Join.Me meeting was super simple; I had to go to their site and click a start button. Really! That is all you have to do. At this point you are prompted to accept the small Join.Me application, which after running, gives you a unique room number that you can pass out for others to join you. I don’t want to confuse this little application with an installation program though; it does not install anything but runs the little Join.Me toolbar so it can do its screen sharing magic. How do your participants join you? All they have to do is go to the Join.Me site and put in the unique room number and click the join button. The participant doesn’t have to download anything, and they are instantly seeing the screen you are sharing.
If there is one downside to Join.Me, it is the voice chatting capabilities. As I write this they are releasing beta versions of their service that include voice, but the current implementation has old-fashioned text chatting and a teleconferencing phone number everyone can dial into. On the positive side, there are some huge advantages to having a real teleconference phone number for people since I had a few members who could not get to an Internet connection. They did call into the teleconference number which allowed them to still join our virtual meeting, a very nice feature indeed.
Why do I think built-in voice chatting would be nice? Since I was doing the presenting and sharing of my screen, I really didn’t want to have a phone attached to my ear. Having the voice built into the little application I downloaded would have been extremely efficient. But let’s not get to hasty because everything else about this service is implemented really well. To keep myself connected with the members using the teleconference line, I resorted to my Google Voice account and they incidentally had the exact package I wanted which we all may be seeing from Join.Me in a few months.
All of the features I have described are available at no cost to you, or your joining members. Join.Me does have a paid, pro version, which adds some goodies like personal link, custom white labeled background, meeting scheduler and a few other features. To really get the true full-featured look, I quickly signed up for the pro trial period. After a few minutes, I had our logo placed has the background, a professional looking vanity URL of join.me/D2-Racing, and a meeting scheduled for 7:00 p.m. on Friday. Join.Me emailed everyone I put on the scheduled meeting with nice emails stating the URL, confirmation codes and the teleconference number to use if they decided to call in for the meeting. Every aspect of their virtual meeting implementation was user friendly, quick and efficient. After being impressed like a kid in a chocolate factory, I went to see what the pro version would cost. They are currently selling it per a year subscription at $150. Really! Just getting the professional white labeled background and URL seem to make it more then worth it for any business big or small.
I have to admit, new Internet services usually don’t get me too excited, but the overall presentation, ease of use and cost effectiveness of Join.Me really made me sit down and write up my review. If you ever need a quick tool for online meetings then I strongly suggest you go check out Join.Me!
- Easy setup for presenter
- No setup for participant
- Dial in conference number
- Tablet applications for iOS and Android including Kindle Fire
- Free version doesn’t stop you from using their service
- No built-in voice chatting with microphone
- Scheduled meeting notice does not use vanity URL
Eric Patterson is a Developer and Internet Marketing Strategist for MINDSCAPE at Hanon McKendry