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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Struggling to Schedule Video Calls? Here’s How to Have an Asynchronous One

Getting everyone together in a room—even a virtual room—can be challenging, and the more people that are involved in a meeting, the more challenging it becomes. That's where asynchronous video comes in, which works a little bit like emailing but with video. You get the same body language and voice tone clues that you do on a live video call, but it works across time zones and conflicting schedules, so you don't have to wait for everyone to get together to get stuff done.

We're assuming that a lot of people use Zoom for their video meetings, and the application just launched a new Clips feature to tackle this exact problem. If you're not a Zoom user, there are similar features in other programs, as well as programs specifically built for communication that isn't live and in real-time.

Using Zoom Clips

Zoom just introduced a new feature, Zoom Clips, to address the issue of asynchronous video chats. It's currently labeled as being in beta, but you can find it via both the web interface and the desktop clients, and you can use it whether or not you're paying for a premium Zoom subscription. Make sure the feature is enabled first: From the web portal, click Settings and Clips to turn it on, and set the associated notification options.

To use the feature, follow the Clips link on either the web navigation pane or the desktop toolbar, and you'll see a gallery of both clips that you've created and that have been shared with you. Click Create Clip, and it's your time to shine—you can record yourself on camera, share your screen, or combine the two.

The control panel that pops up lets you switch between presenter and screen sharing mode, and if you click on Advanced Settings then you can access familiar Zoom features like a virtual background picker and video mirroring. What you can't do is jump between screen sharing and presenter modes while the clip is being recorded, so make sure you choose the right option.

When you've created your clip, you can trim out sections you don't want, add a description and tags, and start a comment thread about it—a thread that anyone you share the video clip with is going to be able to add to. There's also a statistics panel for each clip, showing how many people have accessed the video and (perhaps more importantly) how many people have watched all of it.

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To get your clip out into the wider world, you can click the Share button to enter one or more email addresses, or click the copy link button to get a unique URL you can use anywhere you like. Note that while clips can be accessed and managed on the web or in the desktop client, you need the client to create clips. At the time of writing, clips haven't yet made their way to the mobile apps for Android or iOS.

Other Options

You won't find a feature like Zoom Clips in any other video calling software right now, but you can still send video messages to contacts in most of the popular clients, with a few exceptions (we're looking at you, Google Meet). What's more, there are communication tools that specialize in asynchronous video messaging, removing the pressure to get everyone together on the same call.

If you want to send a video clip to someone else in Microsoft Teams, you'll see a small clip recording button right next to the send button inside your conversations. Your clips can be up to a minute in length, and you can pause and restart the recording along the way. You're then given the option to review the video before sending it. You can also attach a file from disk to your conversation, if needed.

Over in the web and desktop clients for Slack, you can click the “record a video clip” button at the bottom of any conversation—it's the button that looks like a video camera. On mobile, tap the + (plus) button to find the option. The clip can include screen sharing, and can be up to five minutes long—you're able to review it afterward, and as on Teams, you can simply upload an existing video file if you prefer.

For something a bit more specialized, consider Loom. It offers a lot of the features you'll be familiar with from other video calling apps, including screen sharing, annotations, highlights, and basic video editing features—but everything works asynchronously, so you're essentially holding a conversation via video clips. In your central workspace you can manage who's able to view and comment on recordings.

Vidcast is another application built around the idea of asynchronous video communication. Whether you need to present something, respond to a query, or conduct an interview, Vidcast helps you get your clips in suitable shape. Sharing, collaborating on, and commenting on videos is all nicely managed, and there are features such as increased playback speeds that you can leverage to boost your productivity even further.

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