Web and video conferencing technology is becoming more sophisticated with each passing day. A few years ago it was a novelty just to talk with someone online, and view his or her image at the same time. Today web conferences bring together entire companies in complex interaction that rivals live face-to-face meetings. How you might benefit from the latest developments in web conferencing depends on your particular needs. Here are a few points that you should consider.
1. Do you need to make a Powerpoint or other presentation during your conference?
If you answered “yes” to this question, then you will be glad to know that current web and video conferencing services allow the host of a conference to present a slide show or power point demonstration that will be visible on the screens of all the participants of a conference. Similarly, hosts can also open and show other document formats to their attendees. If you need this kind of capability, make sure that your conference provider can give this to you.
2. Do you require telephone conferencing integrated with your web/video conference?
Many organizations have found telephone conferencing to be an effective way to get work done. If you are already connecting with your members and staff via telephone conferences you can expand on this by choosing a web conferencing system that integrates telephone conferencing along with the online conference. The combined service will give you the ease of phone conferencing along with the enhanced visual and presentation features of online conferencing.
Some services allow the host to pay the long distance bill of all the participants (toll free conferencing), while others require each participant to cover their long distance fees.
3. Do all of your conference participants use the same type of computer?
If your participants are going to be using a variety of computers (PC, Mac, Linux) then you will benefit most by choosing a web conferencing system that works on any platform. While earlier conferencing systems required the downloading of complex software that would work only on specified operating systems, newer conferencing formats are delivered online and are browser based. They work on any operating system and if yours in an eclectic audience, then you will get best results with this type of conferencing.
4. Will it be necessary for one of your technicians to “take-over” and operate the computers of any of your participants?
If you wish to use conferencing as a service tool and want to avoid having to send out your service team on physical visits to clients, you can save a lot of travel time and cost by selecting a web and video conferencing system that allows the host of the conference to go online and actually take control of the computer of the client or conference participant. If you are looking at web conferencing as an after-sales service tool, then this particular feature will probably give you one of the most important benefits that you could wish for.
5. Do you want to conduct an online poll or survey during the conference?
If you have a large organization and want to make a quick and accurate poll of opinion or vote on a particular issue then the new polling capabilities of the most advanced web conferencing services will be an important feature for you.
Similarly, if you need to gather demographic information about your meeting participants, obtain valuable input, or quiz and test your participants, then the new online survey capabilities of current web conferencing systems will be an important feature to look for when choosing your conference format. Data from these types of online “surveys” can typically be saved and used for future use.
6. Do you want to brainstorm online, using a “whiteboard”?
Brainstorming is a great way to tap the ideas of a group and to come up with and select new ideas. If this is what you like to do when holding physical meetings, then you will probably want to be able to do the same thing in your virtual meetings as well. This is now possible in some of the more advanced web conferencing systems by using a “group notepad” that enables meeting participants to utilize a shared workspace. The results of these brainstorming sessions can typically be saved in a storage area.
Which of these features will benefit you the most? It all depends on your particular needs. However, one thing is sure: once you experience the convenience of online meetings, you will not want to go back to the era when every meeting required you to pack up your bags and get on an airplane.