Web conferencing is one of the best ways to communicate with clients and remote workers when giving presentations, making pitches, and collaborating on projects. It saves on travel costs and time, and with a spate of free conferencing tools, it can also save on software and monthly service fees.
For light Web conferencing needs, there’s no reason to purchase WebEx or GoToMeeting. There are plenty of free tools that can let you set up your digital conference room, get a teleconferencing number, and meet with up to 30 people. All the applications listed here work on Windows, Mac, and Linux machines.
Vyew offers a fully featured Web conferencing app that lets you schedule unlimited meetings, organize your presentations into a multimedia “book,” and invite up to 20 participants, without having to download anything. Vyew also lets you use a shared workspace, a webcam, Voice over Internet Protocol, file and desktop sharing, and teleconferencing. Participants can navigate your book on their own and after the meeting and can annotate it with drawing tools and sticky notes at any time as well. The free service is supported by ads, but they’re unobtrusive and don’t take away from the conference experience.
This full-featured ad-free Web conferencing tool doesn’t require a download and lets you share your computer screen, presentations, a whiteboard, and documents with up to 20 participants. It supports VoIP, video, teleconferencing, and text chatting and lets you record your meeting for future reference. Dimdim also offers annotation tools and public and private chat and lets you schedule meetings.
Another ad-supported app, Yugma offers desktop sharing, teleconferencing, public and private chat, and Skype integration for up to 20 users with a download app. For annotation tools, file sharing, meeting scheduling, recording and playback, and mouse sharing, you’ll need to upgrade to a Pro account (starting at $14.95 a month).
If you don’t need to connect with many people simultaneously, check out Adobe ConnectNow, a pared-down and free version of Adobe Acrobat Connect that you can download from Acrobat.com. ConnectNow lets you share your screen and documents with up to three people, including you, and you get markup tools as well as VoIP, video, teleconferencing, and text chat options. Any participant can also take control of another participant’s desktop with permission, which is good for collaborative work.
This free and light downloadable conferencing tool lets you collaborate with up to 30 people at a time. You can share your screen and request to take control of others’ screens, and it supports text chatting and teleconferencing. Yuuguu also has an IM client so you can conference on the fly whenever you see that the people in your Yuuguu network are online.