If your organization uses a third-party video conferencing app alongside Google Workspace, Andy Wolber recommends you take another look at the current features Google Meet offers.
In the past few months, I’ve encountered a few organizations who use Google Workspace for email, calendaring and files, yet also use a third-party app — specifically, Zoom — for meetings. In every case, Zoom use started at a time when Google Meet had not yet added a feature people wanted, such as recording, breakout rooms or host controls.
My recommendation to every organization that uses Google Workspace alongside a third-party video conferencing app has been that it’s time to revisit Google Meet. Google Meet now includes key features it once lacked. For people who use Google Workspace, a move back to Meet from a third-party conferencing system eliminates the need to frequently switch back-and-forth to a separate app.
Additionally, Google has made Google Meet and its many advanced features increasingly available to more people. While Google Meet started as a Workspace app for people in organizations, it now is available for everyone. Similarly, some features — such as background noise canceling — once available only to higher-end plans are now available to many more plans and accounts. And in early July 2022, Google made enhanced calling features of Meet available to Google One Premium subscribers, as well.
If you use Google Workspace and are not using Google Meet, I think the meeting tools, integration with Workspace apps and ease of use all might prompt you to reconsider. Plus, if you’re paying for a third-party conferencing app in addition to Workspace, you might be able to eliminate that expense.
Note: Different editions of Google Meet offer different features. Review your plan or check with your Google Workspace administrator if a feature mentioned below isn’t available to your account.)
Why you should switch to using Google Meet
Google Meet works in a web browser you likely already use: Chrome. What you may not know is that Google Meet also works well in Firefox, Safari and Microsoft Edge too. That makes Meet much simpler to maintain than conferencing apps that require an app download or plug-in, which then requires another download or installation whenever those apps change. If you use a modern browser and keep it up to date, you’re all set with Meet. Google Meet is also available for Android and Apple mobile devices.
People who use Workspace will notice plenty of places to access Meet. Use Gmail? Access Meet from the menu. Use Google Docs, Sheets or Slides? Start a Meet session to discuss your document with video next to your file. Use Spaces? Launch Meet to video conference with your team (Figure A).
Deeply integrated with Calendar and other Workspace apps
Google Meet is the easiest conferencing system to use with Google Calendar. You may configure Calendar to add a Meet link to every event you create. Even if you choose not to do that, it takes only one click or tap to add a Meet link to a Calendar event (Figure B). No need to cut-and-paste conference links from third-party apps. If you use bookable appointment schedules, you may configure the system to provide a Meet link for every appointment too.
Meet also helps you track attendance, which can be especially useful as the number of participants increases. A Calendar guest list feature added in 2022 helps you make sure people are present before you start to work through an agenda. After your meeting concludes, the creator of the event may choose to receive an attendee list, which indicates exactly when people joined and when people left the meeting.
Active meeting tools
Google Meet includes several tools that promote active engagement during video conferencing sessions (Figure C). A simple raise of a hand, for example, can indicate a desire to speak, which is particularly useful in meetings with many people. Breakout rooms allow hosts to split a session into smaller groups with either assigned or randomly selected sections and then return to the main meeting. Polls let people vote on topics. The Q&A system structures incoming questions. Jamboard allows participants to draw, type or add notes on a collaborative board that people may access even after the meeting ends. Chat, of course, lets people comment — either individually or to the group — without the need to interrupt the flow of the session.
Host controls make it possible to add co-hosts and manage what people may do in the meeting. This way, several people may work together to manage a meeting, rather than a single person needing to oversee all administrative tasks in a meeting. For example, a host may manage whether or not participants may share their screen, chat, or turn on video or audio.
Helpful meeting technologies
Google Meet has several features that make the overall conferencing experience better for everyone. Turn on automated captions and the system will decipher speech and turn it into text displayed on the screen (Figure D).
Even better, real-time translation for several languages is also part of the captioning system. Noise and reverberation reduction seek to minimize ambient audio distractions and echo, respectively. Background blur and images make it possible for people to obscure or replace their surroundings, which can help preserve privacy.
Google Meet also helps you address potential bandwidth challenges with the ability to reduce video resolution when your internet connection is slow. You might also choose to turn off video entirely and use Meet as an audio-conferencing system. Dial-in numbers make it possible to join a Meet session with a phone call.
Recordings, storage and search
If you choose to record a Google Meet session, which is an option for many organizational editions of Workspace, the recordings will be stored in a folder on Google Drive. This ensures that you may access and manage all of your meeting files in the same place where you keep all of your other files. In mid-2022, Google added the ability to find Meet-related files when you use the new app:”Google Meet” search term (Figure E).
What’s your experience with Google Meet?
I think most organizations that use Google Workspace will likely benefit from the integration, ease of access and centralized storage of recordings that Google Meet offers. But what has your experience with Google Meet been? If you use Google Workspace, do you use Google Meet or a third-party conferencing tool? If you use a system other than Meet, what feature do you depend on? When was the last time you thoroughly evaluated Google Meet?