What is Web Conferencing and How Can It Benefit My Business?

By: Sandra Montano

As more businesses look for new and creative ways to reach new customers as well as cut costs of communicating within the organization, the subject of web conferencing often comes up. What is web conferencing and what benefits can it generate for a company?

To answer the question of "what is web conferencing?" one need only look to a resource that has become common to businesses of all sizes during the past ten years: the Internet. The basic answer to "what is web conferencing?" is that it is simply utilizing the Internet to share visual presentations and other documents with persons who are in various physical positions around the country or even around the world. When a web conference is partnered with an audio conference call, the result is a powerful communications tool that can change the way your company does business.

A web conference can be a very simple affair that is used to convey information from corporate level to outlying locations. It may also be something much more complex that involves the ability for persons to work together on a common document, interact on a common project or stream data out to a large number of locations. Thus, answering the question of "what is web conferencing?" may be a very simple task or something much more involved.

In considering the query of "what is web conferencing?" it is important to think in terms of what it can do for your business. One of the most immediate benefits to web conferencing is that it can eliminate a large portion of your company's travel budget. While there will always be those occasions when a face to face meeting is preferable, many business exchanges within your company can be handled with the use of a web conference.

Meetings that once required travel by car or plane can now be handled via a web conference. "What is web conferencing?" could very well be the gateway to much lower operating costs for your company.

A web conference can also be used to connect with clients who are physically at a distance from your location. Even if your suggestion of holding the meeting via the Internet is first met with the question "what is web conferencing?", a quick assurance that it is easy and would require less preparation on their part will impress your customer. After all, you are using cutting edge technology to communicate with them and you are doing so with an eye to being respectful of their busy schedules. So should your client ask you "what is web conferencing?", take it as an opportunity to raise their good opinion of you and your company.

Another answer to the question of "what is web conferencing" is that it is an easy way to hold an ad hoc meeting with persons in many different locations with almost no advance notice. As an example, assume you have a client that has just encountered a major problem. You know your company can bring them a solution. Respond to their question "what is web conferencing?" by preparing a couple of documents quickly, gather all relevant persons together and walk them through the solution. While this could be done with an audio conference alone, the added impact of visuals often will help drive home the effectiveness of your solution and allow your client to give you the authorization to move ahead much more quickly. An added benefit may be that persons at locations other than where your main contact resides may come to you asking that gold question "what is web conferencing", giving you another opportunity to strengthen your presence with your customer.

Another response to "what is web conferencing?" is that it is a tool that allows you to take persons on a tour of any web site you choose. Often, when you want to connect with a potential client who is too busy to carve out a couple of hours for a face to face meeting, you can wangle thirty minutes on an audio call and a session on the web. Prepare some slides or a document to illustrate what your company can do for them; or if you have a really informative company web site, take your prospect to your company web site and point out a few facts that are prominently posted.

While we are several years away from a time when few people will ask "what is web conferencing?", the answer will always vary depending on what types of communication are most desirable to the person who makes the query. If it is documentation, then that is the main thrust of the response. If it is finding information on the web, the web-touring feature will be part of the answer. Should the main concern be finding time for meetings, then the time efficiency of web conferences will come to the fore. Whatever the need that is uppermost in the mind of the person asking the question, there will be found the most appropriate answer to the question "what is web conferencing?"

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