Welcome back to our series all about using popular video calling platforms to make remote sales presentations.
If you missed our first instalment about how to present on Zoom (What are you doing? Go read it now!), we’re using the following criteria to test each platform:
- How easy is it for you, the presenter, to use?
Can you schedule that call at a moment's notice? How easy is it for you to present your screen once you're in there?
- How easy is it for your prospects on the other end of the call to use? Is it easy for them to start the call and their camera at their discretion? Can they dial in by phone if their microphone isn't working?
- How well suited is it for screen-casting a presentation?
When you’re casting, can you see your screen and the recipient's video? Can your recipients hear the audio from videos that you're playing? Can you cast from your iPad?
- Are there any extra features that make it more compelling to use?
For example, a chat function to send links to your viewers, or being able to record the call so that you can review it later.
- How’s the security and privacy?
Can you password protect the call? How secure is the software in general?
To really get into the nitty-gritty of these criteria, we’re putting each contender through an exhaustive mock sales call. Naturally, the sales presentations we're using on these calls are hosted on our award-winning, easy-to-use sales presentation platform: Showcase Workshop.
If you haven’t experienced the joy that is Showcase Workshop yet, there’s a free 14-day trial with your name on it.
Today we’re covering Google’s answer to video calling: Google Meet.
First launched in 2017, Google Meet was initially marketed as the business version of Google’s popular platforms Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat. Just last month (in April 2020 for future readers — hello, what’s it like out there?), Google merged the three platforms, rebranding Hangouts to Google Meet.
COVID-19 accelerated the rebrand and launch of a free version in May 2020. Previously, users needed a Google business or education account to use the video calling software; but with remote working becoming the norm for so many of us in 2020, Google needed a way to match other popular video calling platforms like Zoom.
And so, Google retired Hangouts and brought Google Meet into the spotlight. Currently, the paid version (which is tied to G Suite Essentials and is designed for businesses) is available free of charge until 30 September 2020. So if you’ve been itching to try it out, now is the time!
Just the stats, thanks
Based in: Mountain View, California.
Company size: approximately 98,000 employees across Google services.
Cost: Free for up to 250 participants (there’s a 60-minute time limit but Google won’t be enforcing it until October 2020). Paid subscriptions to G Suite Essentials start at $10 per user per month, but Google has made these free for everyone until 30 September 2020.
Compatible with: Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and Linux.
Reviews: Google Meet has a Capterra rating of 4.5 out of 5.
Quick disclaimer: The details and screen caps in this article are accurate at the time of publication in June 2020. But if you’re still reading this from the future, some features may have changed!
Ease of use for the presenter
App and account
Google Meet is designed to be used with a Google account. This means that if you have a Gmail account, you’re good to go!
If you don’t, it’s relatively straightforward to sign up: Head to the account registration page, enter your details and choose a password, and click “Next”. You don’t even need to sign up for a new email address if you don’t want to as there’s the option to use your current email address (it doesn’t have to be a Gmail one — I tested it with a Hotmail and got a brand new Google account in seconds); you just need to verify the email address belongs to you and you’re good to go.
Scheduling a call
Scheduling a call with Google Meet is a slick affair. You’ve got four options: Google Calendar, Gmail, the Google Meet web page, or via the app.
If you’ve never used Google Calendar, it’s a fairly intuitive calendar app that you can use to schedule meetings, block out time for appointments or events, or plan your entire life. It syncs with Gmail which means you can turn emails into meetings and events, or accept Google Calendar invitations directly from your inbox.
A blank weekly calendar looks a bit like this, but you can customize it to display only the current day, the whole month, or include weekends. Whatever makes sense to you!
To schedule a meeting, either click the ‘Create’ button in the top left corner or — if you already know what time you want to meet — double-click directly onto that time block in the calendar.
You’ll see a pop-up box where you can add details about the meeting. To make it a Google Meet event, click the blue box that says “Add Google Meet video conferencing”.
This will automatically generate a web link and dial-in numbers for your meeting.
You can invite guests to the meeting in the column to the right. Enter their email address (it doesn’t have to be a Gmail one) into the ‘Add guests’ box and they’ll receive an email with all the details.
When you join the meeting (more on that later), you can view the meeting details — including any attachments — by clicking “Meeting details” in the bottom left of your screen. This is handy for keeping everything in one place; you can use it to add notes about the meeting or an agenda that everyone can open directly from the meeting room.
You can also make a call directly from your Gmail inbox. This is great for those on-the-fly sales pitches where you find that the best time for you and your prospect to meet is right this second.
From your inbox, click “Start a meeting” at the bottom of the left column.
This will open a new window with your meeting all set up and ready to go. It will also show a link to the meeting room and the dial-in information that you can then pass onto your client in a separate email or message.
You can also start or join a meeting directly from the Google Meet web page.
This is where your meetings will be hosted so if you want to cut right to the chase head to https://meet.google.com/ and click “Join or start a meeting”.
Any meetings for that day that you’ve already scheduled will appear on the landing page, making it even easier to join.
Google Meet app
Theoretically, it’s as simple as downloading the app from your device’s app store, signing in with your Google account, and tapping “New meeting” at the bottom of your screen.
When I first installed the app, however, it opened on a meeting room I didn’t recognize with the option to ask to join the meeting or present my screen. When I restarted the app it took me to the regular home page so I have no idea what happened there or if it was a random glitch on my phone or a sign of a deeper bug.
Starting the call
If you’ve set up a calendar invite for your meeting, you and your guests can open it up and click “Join with Google Meet” to be whisked away to the virtual meeting room.
If you used any of the other options to start your meeting, you’ll be dropped right into the meeting space.
You’ll be met with the meeting information and “Join now” button on the right side of your screen, and a handy preview of what your webcam is picking up on the left side. This is great for checking your lighting and making sure the camera gets your best angle before you even join the meeting. When you’re ready, click the green “Join now” button to join the meeting as the host.
We mentioned in our Zoom guide that it’s always a good idea to join video calls a few minutes early so you can get everything set up and make sure you’re not having any technical issues at your end. Here are some things we recommend checking as soon as you enter the call:
- Video: You’ll have a chance to check the video quality before you join the call, but give yourself another once-over after joining to make sure your face is clearly visible and you’ve got decent lighting. Once another person joins your call, your face will be relegated to a tiny square in the top right of the screen and it will be harder to check — so take full advantage of this time now!
- Audio: This one caused a few issues during my test call with Millie, so I highly recommend checking your speaker and microphone settings before you start your presentation. I was using new headphones (did anyone else’s headphones conk out during lockdown, and how did you deal with the betrayal?) and, unbeknownst to me, Meet had set my speakers and microphone to these new headphones.
This wasn’t such an issue until I played Millie a video while presenting (more on that later) and she could hear the audio twice — from the presentation and, somehow, from my headphones.
To check your settings, click the three dots in the bottom right of your screen and select ‘Settings’.
This will open a pop-up box where you can select your preferred outputs. I set my microphone as my MacBook’s built-in microphone and my speakers as my headphones. I did get a warning message saying that using different devices for each output may cause echo, but Millie said that the audio was crystal clear at her end and we no longer had the issue with video audio.
If you continue to have trouble with your audio, you can join by phone: there’s an option to “Join and use a phone for audio” before you connect to the meeting — so if your microphone is on the fritz, you’ve got a backup! I’ll go into more detail about this option in the next section.
- Screencast: Share your sales presentation with the meeting so it’s the first thing your prospect sees when they join the call. To share your screen, click “Present now” from the toolbar at the bottom of your screen.
You can present your entire screen so guests can see exactly what you can see, a specific window (for example, your Showcase Workshop app), or a Chrome tab (if you want to use the Showcase Workshop web app).
The latter options are ideal for sales presentations because they allow you to switch between screens while your prospect stays with your presentation. So, if you need to look up some stats on the fly, you can do so in another window or tab and your prospect will be none the wiser.
Our Verdict: Ease of use for the presenter
Score: 4 / 5 stars
Scheduling and joining a call only takes a few clicks which is great for impromptu meetings. One star lost for the app not opening on the home page and needing to manually change audio settings when using headphones.
Ease of use for prospects
So how did Millie fare through all of this?
Quite well, actually.
There’s no app to install (unless your prospect wants to join via the iOS or Android app) so it’s a matter of a few clicks to get to the meeting.
Guests are met with the same screen as the host when joining the meeting: their lovely face on the left-hand side and options to join on the right. Clicking “Join now” takes them straight to the meeting, even if the host hasn’t joined yet (another reason to get there early!).
They can also dial in by clicking “Join and use a phone for audio”. This will give them the dial-in number and passcode for the country they’re calling from. They can also choose another country from the dropdown list if the system didn’t get it right.
You’ll see that there’s a “Call me” tab on the left side of this dialog box. This is a handy feature for anyone who hates making phone calls. Folks calling from the United States or Canada can get Google Meet to call their phone so they can join the meeting.
Unfortunately, since we’re in New Zealand we weren’t able to test this feature. All we got is Carly Ray Jepson’s “Call Me Maybe” stuck in our head. Still, it’s a nice idea!
Once on the call, we found it was a little too easy for Millie to take over the meeting. Millie (the guest) was able to mute me (the host), present her screen without any approval from me, and even remove me from the call entirely!
While we’re sure your prospects wouldn’t be as rude as Millie was during our mock call, it is concerning that guests have so much control and can pretty much hijack a sales presentation if they wanted.
Our Verdict: Ease of use for prospects
Score: 4 / 5
It’s super easy for prospects to join the call — and take it over.
Screen-sharing a presentation
Google Meet gives you three options for presenting your screen. You can share:
- Your entire screen, warts and all
- A specific window — like the Showcase Workshop app (or Powerpoint, if you haven’t leveled up your sales presentations yet)
- A single Chrome tab (perfect for the Showcase Workshop web app).
For a slick and professional sales presentation, we recommend sharing a specific window or Chrome tab rather than your whole screen. This allows your prospect to view your presentation full-screen, in all its glory.
It also means you can rearrange your open windows to have your presentation open on one side of your screen and your Google Meet call open on the other.
Unfortunately, this is the only way we found to be able to see your presentation and your prospect’s face at the same time. When you start presenting, Google Meet shrinks your prospect’s video and moves it to the right of the screen; the bulk of your screen then displays a message saying you’re presenting — but doesn’t actually show you what you’re presenting.
This isn’t ideal for a sales call where having that face-to-face contact is a vital part of forming a rapport — even if it’s through a screen!
Does your prospect look confused? Bored? Impressed? When you can see your prospect’s reactions, you can tailor the presentation to them and make sure you answer all their questions and address all their concerns.
The strangest thing about this setup is that Millie (as the guest) could see both the presentation and my face. We’re not sure why Google Meet decided to do this for the guests but not the presenter, but perhaps there’s a super top secret reason we don’t know about.
We found that both the visuals and the audio from videos was clear once we got the headphone issue sorted. Since Millie could see my video as well as the presentation, she did find the text to be a bit small, but making the showcase fullscreen seemed to fix the problem.
One last thing about screen-sharing: You may have noticed when joining the call that there’s an option to present straight away. When I tried this, it opened the call in another tab but Millie was nowhere to be found. On Millie’s end, she could see the presentation when she joined the call but she couldn’t see or hear me. We highly recommend joining the call before you start presenting, as this will help you avoid a total communications breakdown!
Our Verdict: Screen-sharing a presentation
Score: 3 / 5
Screen-sharing is easy to set up and presentations render nicely on both a laptop and an iPhone. However, it would be better if the host could see the presentation and their prospect at the same time to foster more of a conversation.
Although Google Meet doesn’t have the option to record meetings — which is a major drawback for many salespeople and their prospects — we did test out their other features: captions and chat.
Captions is a handy feature that adds more accessibility to your meeting. When it’s turned on, Google Meet will interpret what each user is saying and transcribe the conversation at the bottom of your screen.
To use it, click ‘Turn on captions’ in the toolbar at the bottom of your screen.
One thing to note is this will only turn on captions on your screen; if you prospects want to see captions too they’ll need to turn it on at their end in the same way.
Overall, this feature works wonderfully. We love that it makes meetings more accessible for hearing-impaired participants and reckon it could be particularly useful for understanding unfamiliar accents.
It also seemed to leave our “ums” and “ahs” out of the transcript, making us look uber professional and eloquent.
If all else fails, it provides a nice laugh when it gets things wrong!
Google Meet provides a basic chat function that you can access by clicking the ‘message’ icon in the top right of your screen (next to your video feed).
This opens a chat panel on the right hand side of your screen where you can send messages to everyone in the meeting. Unfortunately, there’s no option to send messages privately to another person so you’ll only be able to use this for group conversations.
It’s worth noting that the chat panel obscures part of the screen when it’s open, so you’ll need to keep closing it if you want to see everyone’s lovely faces.
Our Verdict: Extra features
Score: 3.5 / 5
Captions are a nice touch and show that Google Meet cares about accessibility. The chat function works well but it would be nice to be able to message others individually.
Security and privacy
In light of Zoom’s recent security issues, many video calling platforms are highlighting their own security features to give users peace of mind (and get a cheeky one-up on their competitor).
Google Meet is no different. As you would expect, it makes use of Google’s global-private network to secure its video calls and protect users’ information and privacy.
One of our concerns on the call was that Millie was able to mute me and boot me off the call, despite me being the host. It looks like Google Meet is going to put a stop to this for Education users in the next couple of months. I guess it was getting too easy for students to remove their teachers from calls during lockdown! Still, it would be nice if these features were rolled out for all users as it seems like an odd feature to have in the first place.
The one thing that guests can’t do on a call is add participants to the call. We tested this several times and, although Millie had the option to add participants, invitations sent from her profile never made it to the recipient (one of Millie’s many alter-egos/email addresses). This is great in terms of security, but we’re not entirely sure why Millie had the option to add participants at all.
Google Meet does a good job of restricting access to meetings through robust encryption methods. Meetings are assigned codes that are 10 characters long, making it difficult for external participants to hijack a meeting by guessing random codes. Anyone not invited to the meeting must request to join the meeting, so you don’t have to worry about random people dropping by to hear your sales pitch.
Our Verdict: Security and privacy
Score: 4 / 5
Google Meet has made a real effort to make video calling secure, but we’d like to see improvements rolled out for all users to limit guests’ power on a call.
What’s Google Meet’s overall score for sales presentations over video call?
Host ease of use: 4 / 5
Participant ease of use: 4 / 5
Screen-casting capabilities: 3 / 5
Extra features: 3.5 / 5
Security and privacy: 4 / 5
Total: 18.5 / 25 or 74%
Google Meet is a good option for video calling and is the preferred choice for Showcase Workshop team meetings these days.
There’s definitely room for improvement in terms of screen-sharing, but we’re happy to report that Showcase Workshop presentations work well and look great on Google Meet.
If you decide to use Google Meet for your next sales call, make sure you hop on the line a few minutes early to test your audio and set up your windows so you can see your presentation and video call at the same time.
It might even be worth jumping on a call with a colleague, like I did with Millie, so you can get used to the platform and iron out any kinks before you invite your prospect.
Want to give Showcase Workshop a whirl on Google Meet or any other video calling platform? Sign up for a 14-day trial to experience the magic yourself.