During this challenging time as the world faces the COVID-19 Pandemic, it is so important that we continue to meet one another, even if that isn’t physically in the same way!

Below are some key ways you can do so, and we suggest you do whatever works best for your group.

Google Hangouts

Google’s option requires you to have a google account to set the call up, which is free to create. It works in the browser, but also has mobile and tablet apps you can download.

The group leader starts a call and can either invite people in or can circulate a link to group members that they can click on and join the video call.

Pros

  • Hangouts is free, and if you’re used to using Google and Android products, it can be a very natural fit.
  • Simple and high quality
  • Free

Cons

  • Google Hangouts works with your existing contacts, but you can share a link to your group if you don’t have everyone’s google email address.
  • Video quality is not as high as Zoom.

Start with Google Hangouts | St Paul’s Cheat Sheet Guide | Help with Google Hangouts

Facebook Messenger

Facebook Messenger is more than just a chat feature.  It also has the ability to allow groups and individuals to create a video call, without charge.

Pros

  • Uses a platform that many are already used to.
  • Can work easily if your group already has a private Facebook Group.
  • Free
  • Works with up to 50 people

Cons

  • You can only see 6 people at a time on the screen.
  • You need a Facebook account to use this and not everyone uses Facebook, so this may make this option inaccessible to some.

Start with Facebook Messenger | Help with Facebook Messenger

Zoom

Zoom focuses on delivering high-quality video, so you can invite a group onto a ‘call’ and see and hear each other.  Everyone can speak, hear and contribute.

Zoom is an industry-standard tool and comes with more features than a group will need, but the quality of video and audio is higher, which is one of its key benefits.

To use it, all users will need to download Zoom onto their computer or device, but once it’s been downloaded once this is a very simple option.

Zoom offers a free account, which limits your calls to 40-minutes.  To remove that limit it costs £11.99/month. This amount is only payable by the ‘host’, your small group participants don’t need to pay anything, but may need a user guide to help get them set up for the first time.

Pros

  • You can host large numbers on Zoom.
  • There are no limits to the number of meetings you can have.

Cons

  • Small Groups would be limited to 40 minutes on the free version.
  • Participants need to download Zoom and become accustomed to how it works.

Start with Zoom | St Paul’s Cheat SheetHelp with Zoom

Verdict

If you can pay £14.39 a month, this is a great option, which allows groups to meet. The free version is limited in time length but does allow for high-quality connection.