Choosing the Web Conferencing Solution That Is Right For You

by : Sandra Montano

With the proliferation of web based conferencing options on the market today, it can be a daunting task to determine which web conference solution is right for you. By following a few basic tips, you can come up with the best solution to suit your needs.

One of the first places to look is at one of the free web conferencing solutions that are offered by the makers of various operating systems. While limited in their abilities, the price may be right if all you need is the ability to show a handful of people something that you create within the web conferencing solution tool itself. For the casual user who does not have a need to share documents or present slide presentations, this free web conferencing solution will work very well.

However, if you need something more robust, there are a number of web conferencing solutions on the market and many of them are priced at very affordable rates. The first step in looking at those services is to determine what it is you need.

Web Conferencing solutions come in what industry insiders generally refer to as light and advanced packages. Should you require a web conferencing solution that allows you to present a slide show to a larger audience with little or not interaction on the web side of your meeting, a light package would most likely fill your need. Light web conferencing solutions typically also include the ability for the attendees to send a one way communiqué to the host, which the host can respond to verbally if desirable. Another plus to light web conferencing solutions is that the attendees typically do not have to log in at some point before the actual meeting and download any piece of code in order to view the presentation at meeting time.

Advanced web conferencing solutions will include all the features of light web conferencing solutions while taking the process to a new level. With advanced web conferencing solutions, a host has the ability to not only share slide presentations, but other types of documents as well. Attendees may be taken on a host-conducted tour of web sites and the host may temporarily turn over control of the meeting to one of the attendees. Such extras such as markers, collaboration, and white-boarding are also hallmarks of an advanced web conferencing solution. Understandably, advanced web conferencing solutions cost a little more than their light counterparts, but still are much more cost effective than faxing or mailing documents, and certainly help to ensure everyone in the meeting is viewing the same material at the same time.

One big question regarding web conferencing solutions has to do with how the audio portion of the meeting is handled. Some services provide the audio as streamed over the Internet. This solution works great, provided every attendee will be at a computer that is equipped with a sound card, microphone and speakers. However, many experienced web conferencing gurus will tell you that keeping the audio and web conferencing solutions separated provide you with a very useful tool. In the event that something momentarily slows or otherwise disrupts the Internet feed for one or more of your attendees, it is possible to keep going if the audio connection is being provided independent of a data stream over the Internet. There is much wisdom, they say, in having your web conferencing solution handling the visual data and utilizing the telephone to handle your voice communications.

Using separate facilities for audio and web conferencing solutions raises still another issue: how can you manage to record the whole conference for replay to anyone who was not able to attend the live meeting? There is a solution, and one that is often provided very efficiently by conference call companies that offer both audio and web conferencing solutions to their customers.

By using separate web and phone connections for your meeting, but having them supplied by the same vendor, the two pieces can be synched at the vendor's end for the recording. Typically, the vendor will provide you with a URL that can be used to access the unified conference within an hour or so of the live meeting. This option gives you maximum flexibility with your web conferencing solution, you are ensured of being able to continue your meeting. Even if the Internet connection is slow for some reason, any person who needs to listen and view a recorded conference later on will be able to do so.

With a little research, and some trial and error, you can find the web conferencing solution that is the perfect fit for you and your business.