virtual meeting is when people around the world, regardless of their location, use video, audio, and text to link up online. Virtual meetings permit individuals to share data and information continuously without being physically located together. In these unprecedented times when we have to practice social distance and deliberately isolate ourselves from our family and friends to avoid fines and jail time, meeting in a virtual space is an ideal solution.

Catch up with friends and family online to celebrate birthdays or special occasions. Play poker games, have coffee sessions, or go to virtual happy hours with your mates all over the world in a virtual setting. You are no longer limited by distance when you are in a virtual space. For those of us who freelance or work remotely from home, we can still conduct our business as usual and have meetings in a virtual space.

The budget may be an issue of concern. Hence, in this post, we share 3 virtual meeting spaces where you can host and /or gather with your friends, family, or business associates for FREE. In these virtual spaces, you can conduct your meeting with multiple parties, participate in the discussion and share your presentation documents with them at no cost to you.

1. Zoom

Zoom has quickly become the most popular virtual meeting place because it is easy to use. Anyone with minimal or zero technical know-how can easily join a Zoom meeting by clicking a link. Voilà! You are looking at a screen with familiar faces.

Zoom offers a full-featured Basic Plan for free with unlimited meetings. Your Basic plan has a 40 minutes time limit on meetings with three or more total participants. You do not have to have a Zoom account to attend a Zoom meeting or interview. You can join a Zoom meeting via mobile or from your desktop. You will be prompted to download the software, once you have clicked on the link that you have been provided.

You do not need a Zoom account to participate in a Zoom meeting, but you do need one if you wish to host a virtual meeting on Zoom.

How To:

  1. Open the Zoom.us application. …
  2. Host a Meeting.
  3. Click the Invite button at the bottom of the meeting window.
  4. You can share the invitation in a few different ways:
  5. Schedule a Meeting.
  6. Enter a meeting title, in the Topic field.
  7. In the When options, enter the duration of the meeting, time zone, and whether it’s a recurring meeting.

Word of caution: Users have experienced some privacy and security problems on the Zoom app which allowed malware to attach to Zoom and hijack your web cameras.  These issues with basic security practices culminated with “Zoombombing,” in which trolls crashed people’s video meetings and bombarded them with inappropriate material like pornography. If you are an educator or you have children using Zoom for their home-based learning (HBL) exercises, you may wish to check out their best practices for securing a virtual classroom or monitor your child’s usage closely.

2. Meet Now in Skype

Create a meeting in Skype is easy. Meet Now in Skype allows you to easily set up a collaboration space and invite both Skype contacts and friends or family who are not on Skype. Participants can then easily join meetings whether they have an account or not.

How To:

  1. Sign in to Skype and selecting the Meet Now button.
  2. You’ll get a call link and a Share invite button to easily to invite others.
  3. Once you’re ready, set your call to audio or video and select the Start call button. You can also create a meeting directly from the web.

Up to 50 people can meet and collaborate all at once. With group screen sharing, you can also present PowerPoint slides, share video recordings and more to your entire team. Those who work remotely can work more efficiently and assigning projects or discussing due dates are faster and more productive through Skype’s group video calling.

One advantage of using Skype is that you can blur out the background so it does not become a distraction during your meeting.

3. Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts is a cloud-based communication software application for voice and video calling, included as part of G-Suite. This is free and available to all Google account users. Everyone who wants to join a group conversation must use classic Hangouts chat.

Google Hangouts allow up to 150 participants to perform group video calls and hold online meetings in the free base.

How To:

  1. Log into your Google account through the Google Calendar website.
  2. Click Create at the top left.
  3. Add a meeting name on the pop-up screen.
  4. Include a meeting time.
  5. Click More Options.
  6. Tap Add Conferencing.
  7. Choose Hangouts Meet from the pull-down menu. …
  8. Add invitees under Add Guests.

4. MS Teams Meeting

One of the easiest meeting apps to initiate. Every meeting scheduled in Teams automatically becomes an online meeting. To schedule a meeting in a chat window, select the icon that looks like a calendar in the chat below the box where you usually type your messages.

You can go to the Calendar tab on the left-hand side of the app and click on New Meeting. Microsoft Teams also has a Scheduling Assistant you can use to find a time that works for everyone. You can also schedule your Microsoft Teams Meetings from OutlookThe Microsoft Teams Outlook add-in allows people to view, accept, or enter meetings from Teams, or Outlook.

5. Webex

You can join a meeting from your computer, mobile device, phone, or video system. Pick the one that works best for you.

If this is the first time you’re joining a Webex meeting, Webex automatically downloads the app. If you don’t want to install anything, click Join from your browser. Then click the installer file to install the app. Follow the user-friendly steps and begin your webex meetings.

There are now many tutorials on video or posts that you can read up on to easily join the community of online virtual meetings. Social distancing does not mean we cannot connect with our fellow mankind. Hopefully, the above 3 virtual meeting rooms help you stay connected to your co-workers and loved ones.

Remember to also connect with Us on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram for more parenting ideas, career guidance and behind-the-scenes peeks. Stay home, stay safe.

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