Record Online Video Meetings for Free with Zoom


Get Shift Done: Tips and Tricks

Smile! You’re on candid Webcam!

You may not have heard of the online video meeting utility called; it’s not a big name like Skype, Hangout, or GoToMeeting. But in my experience, when it comes to hosting and recording remote video conversations, Zoom is the only freebie (as in zero cost) that has good video recording built-in. It’s the easiest video chat recorder to use, too — no matter how much you spend.

To start with Zoom, create a login and log in. You’re prompted to download the Zoom app for your desktop or mobile OS. Don’t worry about compatibility; it sends you the right one automatically. The instructions are obvious; you should be able to figure them out with no hand-holding, as long as you haven’t muted your webcam and headset (or speakers and microphone). In only a few minutes, you see your own smiling face on the screen.

Congratulations! You’re on Zoom!

Move your cursor near the bottom of the frame to display the bottom toolbar, and click “Invite” to invite people to your online meeting.

You can either let Zoom send (“zoom”) the invites to participants, or you can copy the meeting URL and send it in an email, by Twitter, or via Facebook — or perhaps with quantum telepathy, if that’s your preference.

And now the big secret: To start recording, do nothing. That’s right. Your video chat is recorded automatically. It records until you click “Stop Recording” in the upper left corner of the screen or when you end the meeting.

Whose face is recorded when you get your meeting going? The person who’s talking. A setting lets you see and record video of all participants at the same time; when you have two or more people in your meeting, a little “Gallery View” button appears in the top right hand corner of the screen to control this function. No thinking or control room person required.

“Gallery View” shows all participants (up to 25) at once.

That’s a meaningful benefit. Both Skype and the latest iteration of Google Hangout require third-party screen software to record video. For example, AnyCap Recorder is not bad, and it works with most video chat systems, though you need a paid subscription if you want to get rid of its annoying watermark. In contrast, with Zoom, recording is built in, with no watermark.
GoToMeeting (GTM) includes video recording — as long as you cough up $39 per month (or more). GTM recordings are done in the cloud so they’re not as dependent on your connection quality as local recordings (done on your computer), which makes for higher-quality results.

So far, I’ve only talked about the free version of Zoom, which I happily used for over a year. Then my video interview volume increased in frequency. I wanted cloud recording, a la GTM, for higher quality and greater reliability. Suddenly $14.95 per month seemed like a pretty good deal, and it has delivered in the six months that I’ve been paying it. As a result, I have stopped Skyping or Hanging Out. When people I want to talk with people face to face using remote video, I just Zoom them. And by using Zoom, I not only have clear online video meetings, but I get high-quality recordings of them without worrying at all.

Decent video quality across the many hops from Florida to Slovenia. Yay!

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