There are other administrative, reporting, and infrastructure functions that some web conferencing service providers offer to enhance your meeting:
Web-based audio – Broadcasts the audio portion of your conference via streaming audio, instead of a separate conference call. This way, participants with a PC sound card and speakers can listen without additional audio conference calling charges. Usually referred to as a webinar.
Web camera – By adding a webcam at the presenter’s location, attendees can see view the presenter during the meeting. This can help them associate a face with the voice guiding them through the web conferencing service. Don’t expect too much, though – the video may have a few seconds’ delay and won’t allow you to show much more than your headshot and the background of your work area. This is sometimes referred to as a webcast.
Monitoring – Most web conferencing service providers have a participant window for you to view a roster of attendees as well as their web and audio status. You can also monitor who is entering your conference and bounce people you don’t want at the meeting – a competitor or someone that didn’t pay for access to a fee-based course, for example.
Backup systems: Redundancy, or “conference continuation”, allows the hosted web conferencing solution to seamlessly move to a second server should the first server fail unexpectedly. If the moderator loses the connection to the conference, the attendees are alerted to stand by while the connection is fixed. All meeting materials are stored so critical data is not lost.
While this addresses the potential downtime associated with problems with the web conferencing service provider, this does not cover the potential downtime due to computer, network or Internet connectivity problems experienced by the participants. While most providers guarantee nearly 100% uptime for their programs, they have little control over attendees’ connections or hardware.
Security – Almost all web conferencing service solutions include encryption to protect your information. For some, Secure Socket Layers (SSL) – high-level security technology that protects and secures confidential data – is a critical security measure for any web conference. Some companies charge extra for it while others will bundle it as part of a package. For others, security is less critical – there’s no need to pay extra to protect public meetings or simple sales calls.
Recording – Online archiving allows you to replay part or all of the actual meeting. Stored on the meeting host’s PC, it gives you a reliable point of reference to consider potential improvements for future conferences. Since it’s proprietary information, only the moderator determines who gets access once the conference ends.
Reporting – Get conference activity such as full text chat transcripts or data from survey and quiz results. You can also find out when participants logged in and out and receive customized reports of how each attendee answered a particular question.