Three Voice Chat Options to Communicate with Co-workers and Classmates Online

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    Online Video and Voice Chat Options in 2020
    Online Video and Voice Chat Options in 2020

    Marquette, MI  –  April 6, 2020  – While we are in a new time for a lot of businesses as companies are forced to move to remote work and students are forced to learn online, there are several businesses that have provided remote positions for years. Whether you’re a business looking to find a way to communicate with staff during the 2020 COVD-19 Outbreak, family wanting to stay connected, or you’re an online business just looking for something different, this article will help you understand the positives to online chat programs and give you three free voice chat and video suggestions.

    Why Internet Chat Lines are Useful

    During the current situation with a national Stay-At-Home Order in place, not everyone can afford to cut communication completely, and many do not want to. With online voice and video chat options available, people can practice their “Social Distancing” during the COVID-19 Pandemic or in other times of illness. Maybe you’re just off on assignment away from our family and friends. You can stay connected with free chat lines! For many, voice chat applications have also been a way to meet new people and build new friendships.

    Ways You Can Use Online Free Phone Chat for School, Work, or Fun

    Students continuing their education through distance learning with online platforms need to communicate on projects. Having a way to video chat, screen share, or instant message can help students coordinate on tasks and complete assignments on time.

    Communicate with your coworkers, classmates or family remotely
    Communicate with your coworkers, classmates or family remotely

    Businesses with remote positions require ways to check in and communicate as well. While email and regular phone calls are still valid options, when completing tasks like presenting a report to board members or planning a public event, an email just doesn’t cut it.

    When being apart from our families, some take it better than others. For most, being able to connect is a welcomed opportunity that many during the COVID-19 Shutdown are taking advantage of. Voice and video chat programs have helped families host digital social events and continue communication with friends.

    3 Free Voice and Video Chat Suggestions

    The following digital communication platforms have all been tested by myself and millions of other people around the world. The suggestions cover common concerns like how many people can be in a call at once, devices the platform can be used on, and unique features that may be helpful to you. All three platforms meet our minimum standards of providing a free way to communicate through voice, video, and text chat.

    Discord as an online communication platform
    Discord as an online communication platform (artwork from DiscordApp.com)

    Free Voice Chat and Video Calls with Discord

    Discord, well known in the gaming community, is my top choice for anyone trying to communicate whether it is for business, education, or meet ups between friends and family. Here is why:

    1. No Download Necessary
      1. While Discord does have mobile and desktop applications available, you do not need to install anything if the storage on your phone is maxed out or you just hate installing software. Discord allows you to simply click a link and run the entire platform through a browser on your computer or cellphone. Whether you have a Windows Computer, Mac, or even Linux, or an iPhone or an Android, just create an account and go!
    2. No Time Limits
      1. While there is an “AFK” (Away From Keyboard) limit that can be set by the server host, there is no limit to how long you can be in a discord channel talking to friends, family, classmates or coworkers.
    3. Voice, Text and Video Chat Available
      1. Like I said, each of these will at least have this as a minimum requirement, however as you’ll learn below there are some big positives and a few negatives depending on what you’re trying to accomplish
    4. No Concern on Limit of People
      1. Discord has incredibly large server limits. Unless you’re approaching 25,000 people in your discord server, you don’t have to worry about fitting in a voice call with the whole team.
      2. If you are reaching that number, you can contact Discord and they will actually give you a bigger server!
    5. Multiple Voice and Text Channels for Different Departments
      1. One of my favorite things about discord is that in one server you can have multiple channels! That means you can have a “room” for your web team and a “room” for your sales team and room for management, so everyone can be communicating within their department at once, in one place, but not all trying to talk over each other.
    6. Individual Audio Controls
      1. This sounds like something pretty basic, but when you’re on a call in using other platforms, it’s something you’ll miss! We all have that one coworker who talks extremely loud for no reason or the person who sounds really quiet over the phone because they just never get close enough to the microphone. For each individual person in the channel, you can turn them up or down, depending on your needs. Just don’t abuse it and mute the people you don’t like!
    7. Screen Share and Go Live Tools
      1. You can “Go Live” to share your screen with the people in your channel. During regular times the stream limit is 10 people, but during COVID-19 they’ve bumped it up to 50!
    8. Video Chat
      1. Video chat with web cams does need to be done in a private call which maxes at 10 people. But if you’re a small business with only 6 people on your sales team, it’s perfect!
        UPDATE – Video Chat is now a function in regular severs, no private calls necessary.
    9. Recommended Use
      1. Family, Friends, Students, and Businesses
    Use Zoom to complete conference calls for work, school or with family (artwork from Zoom.us)
    Use Zoom to complete conference calls for work, school or with family (artwork from Zoom.us)

    Voice and Video Communication through Zoom

    Update – Zoom has recently had several security allegations against them. Please note they are still a good choice for online chat programs, but there are some concerns related to using their software at this time. We hope and would like to assume these issues will be patched in future updates.

    Zoom has exploded in popularity recently with classrooms and businesses using the platform as a way to communicate with staff and students! It’s also become widely used with family and friends to host social events.

    1. Mobile or Desktop Application
      1. Zoom requires a download, but it’s an easy set up and overall, good user interface. Downloads are available for Windows, Mac, iPhone or Android (sorry Linux users, get it on your cellphone)
    2. Time Limits
      1. Unlike the other two options on this list, Zoom does have a time limit under their free plan. For the free version of Zoom, there is a 40 minute call limit for 3 or more people in a group call. If you’re doing one on one calls though, you’re golden! If you are an educator, zoom has given a free plan to all teachers to allow for longer calls during the COVID-19 Outbreak. Need more time? You can also pay for a plan, but why? I just said there is a completely free option above!
    3. Voice, Video and Text Chat available
      1. Again, bare minimum to make the list!
    4. Raise Your Hand Function
      1. This is a unique and helpful function Zoom has. To help reduce the issue of talking over each other, callers can use the “Raise Your Hand” function when they have something to say. The call host can then call on that person and it’ll be their turn to talk. It’s like school!
    5. Record Feature
      1. This is also an awesome tool I found on Zoom. If you are doing some training with your team, you can record the entire call, including screen sharing, so they can review the meeting again at a later time if they don’t remember something. This can also be used for training videos in the future for brand new employees so you don’t have to go through it all again!
    6. Recommended Use
      1. Business, Students, and Tech-savvy Family
    Video, Voice or Text Message with friends on Facebook Messenger
    Video, Voice or Text Message with friends on Facebook Messenger (artwork from messenger.com)

    Facebook Messenger as an Online Communication Platform

    Because so many people are already familiar with Facebook Messenger including a growing number of people in older generations, Facebook Messenger is my third suggestion. Facebook Messenger is probably the most used application on this list. It’s installed on millions of people’s phones already and bookmarked on their browsers. Despite being widely used, it ranks third because of the restrictions that come with Facebook.

    1. Browser, Desktop or Mobile Applications
      1. Like Discord, you don’t need to download anything in order to use Facebook Messenger. You can send messages and participate in calls all through your browser if you don’t wish to install anything on your computer or smartphone. Desktop and Mobile applications are available.
    2. Voice, Video and Text Chat
      1. If you didn’t know, you can do a voice chat in a call with up to 50 people! That’s big enough for most small businesses or most moderately sized departments within a bigger company.
    3. Video Chat Specifically
      1. Like Discord, Facebook does have a draw back to video chatting. You can only actually see 6 people on video at a time, but have up to 50 people in the call. So you’ll never see all 50 smiling, or grumpy faces at once.
    4. No Time Limits
      1. You can talk with the people in your call for 30 minutes or 5 hours, Facebook won’t kick you off!
    5. Wide User Base
      1. This platform is used by an estimated 2.2 BILLION people! Facebook is available on all operating systems or mobile devices thanks to it’s in browser application. While not everyone in your class or business may actually use Facebook, it’s safe to say most of them do.
    6. Must Be Friends
      1. Now to the big negative. If you’re wanting to use Facebook for business communications, that means you need to be friends with your coworkers, which is not something every person likes to do. For many business men and women, social media is a place for them to be free from work. While you don’t have to be friends with everyone in the call, someone has to be friends with the next person invite them which can create a complicated mess to try to include everyone. And again, despite it’s wide spread use, not everyone actually has a Facebook account!
        UPDATE – New features on Facebook may allow for easier group calls like the “Create a Room” function or “Watch Parties” in Facebook Groups for training videos.
    7. Recommended Use
      1. Family, Friends, and Students

    Other more limited options include FaceTime, Skype, Google Duo or Hangouts, Snapchat and WhatsApp.

    Have questions about these voice and text chat options? Leave a comment below. Have options of your own for what should be on the list? I’d love to hear those too!

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