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What is video conferencing software?

Video conferencing software is any application that connects two or more people in a video and audio-enabled call. The purpose of this software is to give the impression that you are in a face-to-face meeting, even if you’re meeting from across the globe.

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Video conferencing tools connect individuals and businesses across offices and time zones. These are the top video conferencing tools for business use.

Product HIPAA compliance File Sharing Tools Messaging Whiteboards & Annotations

Cisco Webex

Yes Yes Yes Yes

Google Meet

Yes with Google Workspace with Google Workspace No


Yes No Yes Yes

Microsoft Teams

Yes Yes Yes No


Yes Yes Yes Yes

Video conferencing software FAQs

What are the major features of video conferencing software?

Video calls

Without this feature, a video conference would just be a telephone call. Video calling software provides two or more people with a live video and audio stream over the internet. Users access the video feed via a URL link or when one person submits a call request to another.

Video calls are used for calls between two people and can scale for groups into the thousands. Many video conferencing software providers charge extra for video feeds for large group events — especially if more than one participant speaks to the group — or for extras like breakout sessions and recordings for later use.

Audio calls

In addition to video calling, many video conferencing software tools provide the option to hold audio-only conversations via voice over internet protocol (VoIP) or private branch exchange (PBX) connections. These features provide inexpensive telephone services for just a few employees, or they can scale to thousands of participants on the phone call.

Like video calls, digital audio calls are limited only by the participants’ internet speeds. If several callers attempt to connect to the service at a time, the company’s internet service may not support the load, but most businesses have the bandwidth to support hundreds of simultaneous calls.

Security features

The explosion of video meetings over various apps during the COVID-19 pandemic was a boon for internet pranksters and hackers. Zoom and several other well-known conferencing apps fell under scrutiny for security flaws that allowed hackers of all skill levels to recreate the randomly-generated meeting codes and barge in on meetings. Such vulnerabilities caused many video conferencing tools to refocus their efforts on security and beef up current offerings, including:

  • End-to-end encryption for calls and conferences
  • Secure storage of call recordings, shared documents, and other sensitive assets
  • Password-protected meetings
  • HIPAA compliance (for some tools)

Whiteboard and annotations

As virtual meetings via video conference quickly replace in-person meetings, the need for visual aids has grown. Many of us are used to drawing plans on a sheet of paper, scribbling on glass conference room walls, or drawing workflows on whiteboards to illustrate our points. Digital whiteboards and annotation features give meeting attendees the same tools — right on-screen.

Screen sharing

Perhaps the most helpful of the in-app presentation tools is the ability to screen share during a video meeting. In a screen share, the presenter can choose to show their entire desktop, a single browser window, or a group of documents to the group.

However, screen share features come in varying degrees of sophistication. Some always show the presenter’s current window or desktop, while others allow the user to choose which browser window to show, excluding any desktop notifications or other open windows.

It’s vital for each user to be familiar with how screen sharing features work. This can save users from accidentally sharing the job application they’ve mostly filled out, broadcasting text messages from friends or family to the group, or accidentally exposing sensitive company information to clients.

Chats and messaging

Many video conferencing software options have morphed from simple communication tools to full-blown collaboration platforms. Often these tools also include in-app messaging that users can access whether or not they’re in a phone call.

In-call chat features are useful for asking questions during a webinar, providing commentary on a speaker’s slides without interrupting the speaker’s flow, and holding private side-discussions during meetings.

For more information, check out our top video conferencing software articles and reviews:

What should SMBs consider when buying video conferencing software?

Small businesses need video conferencing software that keeps employees connected just as much as their larger counterparts. These tools provide the flexibility and agility for meetings and online events that small businesses need.

Classes and courses

Many small businesses bring in supplemental income or run their entire businesses through online classes and courses. If your company needs a platform to host online courses or connect with students, you’ll want to check that the online meeting software options you research include call recordings, the ability to present to audiences of multiple participants, and the ability to have someone other than the speaker present their screen to the audience.

Security considerations

Small businesses should be just as concerned about security as their enterprise peers. Video conferencing security features you should look for include:

  • Password protected meetings
  • Encrypted meetings
  • Encrypted meeting recordings and messaging systems
  • Database protection and disaster recovery plans like redundancies

Any organization that conducts a good percentage of its business digitally should research their software to ensure security protocols are in place to protect against data theft.

Free vs. paid plans

Free is great — until a free product doesn’t include a tool that you need to conduct business. Most free video conferencing tools limit the number of users who can join any one call, the length of time a call stays connected, storage space for documents and digital assets, or a combination of these.

Paid plans will often provide more features, increased participant counts, longer call times, and expanded storage space. A key step in the research process is to compare video conferencing tools side by side to understand the features included at every level in the pricing structure.

What should enterprise customers consider when buying video conferencing software?

Enterprise companies use video conferencing software to connect employees across time zones and within the same office. These tools increase communication speed and keep large organizations running smoothly.

Equipment and hardware

Enterprise businesses often have at least one central headquarters building, and a lot of that space is used for meeting and conference rooms. Companies purchase video conferencing hardware to install in common meeting rooms where attendees can all appear on a call without individual laptops.

If your company is considering purchasing video conferencing equipment, look for webcams, video displays (TVs), phone conferencing speakers, and microphones. You can often lease or purchase these items directly from the video conferencing software provider, but it may make more sense to purchase the equipment outright, especially if you have a dedicated IT department to manage the care and upkeep on the equipment.


Video conferencing software is part of the digital revolution. Perhaps the greatest innovation this software provides is an entirely digital method of communication, which means it comes at a lower cost. Companies who formerly paid for a different phone line for each employee can now scale their digital phone calls from a single service plan.

Many video conferencing companies also offer voice over internet protocol (VoIP) tools that give employees a way to connect to customers and clients directly from their computer. Look for video conferencing systems with VoIP tools that integrate with your current CRM, email, ERP, or HR software for a fully-integrated system.

What do businesses need to know about HIPAA compliance?

Telemedicine is increasingly offered by health care plans and individual providers. While there are dedicated telemedicine tools available as best-of-breed software or included in a health insurance patient portal, HIPAA-compliant video conferencing software can be used to give patients access to their doctors from afar.

HIPAA-compliant video conferencing tools have increased security features that keep patient information safe and confidential. These features include:

  • Password-protected meetings and recordings
  • Encrypted meetings
  • Digital waiting rooms that give medical professionals control over who enters the meeting
  • Secure file sharing and chat messages
  • Direct integrations with patient portal and patient communication tools.

These features give patients access to their medical care team without leaving the safety of their house, and help medical professionals further protect themselves and their communities through reduced exposures. They have also been instrumental in connecting rural or isolated communities with quality healthcare.

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