Ever struggled to explain a funny-looking error message you see on your screen to an IT team over the phone? Tried to deliver a Powerpoint deck over video or hold a sales meeting with files emailed back and forth?
Remote collaboration in today’s screen-driven world would be nearly impossible without being able to share what you’re seeing with other people. But the clunky process of screen-sharing that began with software like GotoMyPC or WebEx is thankfully becoming a thing of the past. The newest generation of screen-sharing applications are making screen-sharing spontaneous, painless and clear.
A Changing Field of Players
It used to be the case that you had to
- pay oodles of money for an account with a software program like WebEx or GoToMeeting;
- ask your viewers to download large files to run the program on their computers;
- log on well in advance of the meeting to upload your deck and turn on the app; and
- wait for all viewers to log on and give them a tour of the complex screen they were looking at;
…all before starting the actual meeting. It certainly wasn’t the most efficient way of doing things, and always seemed to create more IT problems than it solved.
Instead, today’s applications like ClearSlide, Join.Me, Skype and ScreenLeap let you share your screen instantly and with anyone. That means that you can start sharing halfway through a meeting and have everyone else jump on within seconds.
Of these options, ClearSlide is clearly the winner if you’re using the meeting to make a sales presentation. It works well with Powerpoint decks, makes the resources accessible to your prospect before and after the meeting and allows you to jump around during the presentation.
Why Join.Me Wins
For anything else, we think Join.me is the winner. Here’s why:
1. No compatibility required: Your viewers won’t need Join.me accounts (unlike Skype) or downloads (unlike WebEx) to get in on the meeting. They just navigate to a particular webpage and type in a 9-digit number that you can read out to them during the call. There, they’ll just see your screen – no complicated frames or sidebars from the app itself.
The flexibility this allows us during a meeting is unparalleled. Our sales team can make a last minute decision on whether to whip out a Powerpoint presentation, depending on how the sales call is coming along. We can show our overseas colleagues exactly how to complete a particular task or how to access a particular site if they don’t understand our quick email explanation. The ability to be nimble in a conversation makes it the same as though they were sitting alongside us in the office.
2. Ability to hand over remote control to a viewer: This comes in real handy if you’re trying to get IT support or make last-minute changes to a document. It is, after all, the most meaningful application of the term “remote collaboration.” Most other screen-sharing apps don’t allow handing over remote control unless they’re of the expensive, GoToMeeting ilk. In those cases, the person taking over control would need to launch their own version of the app and wait for everything to load. With Join.Me, it’s all instantaneous.
3. Price: Though it was long a free service, Join.Me recently launched a freemium model. Pro plans are still available under $20 a month, though, and special pricing is available for non-profits and other groups. This is becoming common in the screen-sharing world. Even Skype, for example, requires Premium-level accounts for group screen-sharing, and that’s without the instant sharing or shared remote control.
The only thing missing from Join.me is the ability to view screens on mobile devices. That’s because Join.me currently runs off of Flash, which won’t work on Apple devices or a number of other mobile platforms. ScreenLeap has the mobile functionality and the instant access, but lacks remote control.
So, while there isn’t any one app that will cure all our screen-sharing woes, we’ve definitely got a better crop to choose from when it comes to screen-sharing apps these days. And it looks as though that crop will only be getting better from here on out.