Interactive Web Conferencing Advice
An online meeting in which the participants simply sit back and listen can be an effective business tool, but, under the right circumstances, interactive web conferencing can accomplish so much more.
How interactive web conferencing is used in the workplace
Interactive web conferencing allows participants to share information, identify problems, and work out solutions, even if they are separated by great distances. You, as the host or moderator, can also ask questions of the group and tally the responses for everyone to see.
The applications of this type of conference are limited only by your imagination:
- Webinars: When hosting an online seminar, answering questions posed by the participants makes the meeting much more valuable for everyone.
- Breakout groups: Sometimes, topics come up that require further discussion. Employees can gather in virtual "breakout rooms" after a web meeting to keep the discussion going and possibly find an answer to a critical issue.
- Press conference: Instead of requiring reporters to physically come to your office, you can set up a virtual press conference which allows them to participate via the Internet. Each journalist can signal when they want to ask a question, eliminating a lot of the chaos that occurs at traditional press conferences.
- Virtual classrooms: The interaction between teacher and student is vital, even for someone who is pursuing an online degree. Interactive web conferencing allows you to set up a virtual classroom setting where students can ask questions and receive additional one-on-one instruction.
- Stockholder meetings: When it isn't practical or possible for someone to attend a shareholder's meeting in another state, allowing them to connect interactively increases communication and goodwill between your company and the stockholders.
Today, customized interactive web conferencing solutions are available for individual/small business use to cut down on travel time and expenses when used for:
- Online training
- Sales/marketing webinars
- Web meetings
Medium to large businesses may rely on interactive web conferencing for cost-effective online communication in:
- Online training programs
- Corporate webinars
- Employee/client web conferencing
Interactive web conferencing features
In addition to standard features such as submitting questions and sharing presentation slides, certain conferencing features can help make an interactive event more effective:
- Private messages: The high-tech equivalent of whispering to a co-worker, letting the group send private messages to each other can make the meeting much more effective. Two participants can have a quiet sidebar without disturbing everyone else.
- Virtual whiteboards: One of the simplest but most effective meeting tools, a virtual whiteboard is a great place for the group to share information and illustrate solutions.
- Shared desktops: Give another participant the freedom to use software or a document on your computer. Use this feature carefully!
Nonetheless, interactive web conferencing continues to change with the times. A number of service providers now offer standard web conferencing with YouTube integration, cloud support, and multi-user collaboration.
Other advanced features and updates in interactive web conferencing include:
- Freehand annotations. Can enhance visual communication by allowing participants to write freehand comments on slides using arrows, markers, drawings, and text.
- File sharing. Offers the convenience to upload, edit, and download files within a conference.
- Work alone option. Participants can opt to follow a presentation or work independently to navigate webinar slides.
- Multi-device support. Attendees can join a web conference via third-party devices, including laptops, iPads, and smartphones.
Drawbacks of interactive web conferencing
Adding collaborative voice-based elements to a virtual meeting means that every participant needs to have a microphone or headset and possibly a web camera for face-to-face discussions. By adding interactive elements, it's also possible to lose control of the meeting or run past your allotted online meeting time. Back-and-forth communication during interactive web conferencing also means you'll need to host your conference on a system that can handle this kind of traffic.
Fortunately, choosing the right web conferencing provider may offer a solution to these commonly faced issues. For example, if a company webinar is being broadcast for corporate training, interactive web conferencing features geared toward education can be used to manage attendance and participation.
Interactive web conferencing for training purposes may support up to 50 students with collaborative tools to maintain attention. Students can be divided into smaller breakout groups for more focused learning. Individual participation can be monitored through chat questions, polling, and instant feedback to reengage students.
Despite some drawbacks, collaboration during an online meeting makes it more cost effective in the long run.
What you'll pay
Web conferencing software solutions are typically billed on a monthly basis. This monthly fee provides most, if not all, of the features mentioned above as well as access to you and up to 100 additional users in some cases. If you need more people connected on a regular basis, be sure to include that in your list of requirements when talking to a seller.
That said, you can expect to pay anywhere from $30 to $70 per month based on the inclusion of specific features, the number of callers or "guests" present in a single conference, and the specific brand. It's worth noting that a couple name brands - namely Adobe Connect and Cisco WebEx - are competitively priced and also deliver packages that are some of the most inclusive in the industry.Ready to Compare Web Conferencing Services Price Quotes?