Many organizations are incurring financial difficulties in today’s economic climate. And they are searching for ways to cut costs drastically without affecting quality and productivity. Web conferencing is one way to do this by saving money on business travel.
Web conferencing is an alternative for conducting face-to-face meetings with or without a telephone by using the computer via a Web browser. Whether a business is a one-person operation at home or a multimillion dollar organization, almost any industry can benefit from a Web conferencing service. Virtual meetings not only save travel costs but provide beneficial information sharing, money savings, and improved productivity.
There are several different types of Web conferencing services:
- Web casting typically has a conference leader on screen with no audience interaction.
- Web conferencing integrates video and teleconferencing so that individuals can participate using the computer and telephone for open and easy communication between the meeting participants.
- Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, provides the capability to converse verbally via Internet using the computer for verbal communication through a Web browser rather than by telephone.
- Screen sharing allows the viewing of documents on a computer screen such as PowerPoint presentations and project management overviews. Some of these services allow for the possibility of annotating documents while conducting meetings.
- Web conferencing services offer benefits such as file storage directly onto the browser. This feature makes it convenient to save files in a central shared location.
- If your organization uses a whiteboard and markers to keep track of brainstorming ideas, you may want to use a service provider that simulates a whiteboard feature for participants to enter information.
- Text capability allows participants to communicate without interrupting the presenter or the meeting.
The following are additional services your organization may want to look into:
- Toll free conferencing number so participants can join the meeting
- Transcription services
- Online scheduling
- Full online account history
- Multipresenter capability
- Meeting recordings
Depending on the service, you may be required to install software via a disk or download plug-ins. The cost can range anywhere from a few cents a minute to a flat monthly rate of approximately $40 a month for basic services. Rates depend on the complexity of the service, features, and number of meeting participants.
Although Web conferencing has many benefits, it also has some notable drawbacks:
- It may require an annual license.
- You may not be able to clearly view animated PowerPoint presentations.
- Meeting participants are not able to read body language of the meeting attendant, so it can be a bit more difficult to interpret audience response.
- You may have to prepare your computer before the software can be installed, which may include disabling virus blocks.
- Even though a service may say there are no downloads, that may not be the case.