April 06, 2012

Web Conferencing

Web Conferencing is a technology which is used to conduct conferences with the help of the web. The main benefit of web conferencing is the bandwidth required and the setup costs are less. Using web conferencing, seminars can be conducted by organizations, which are called Webinars. It is not necessary to set up any special application software to enable web conferencing, as web browsers in your computer does all the work.

Web Conferencing Overview:

The host who is conducting the conference will send an email to the participants of the conference, which comprises the URL of the website containing the conference data, time of the conference, ID number, toll-free number etc. At the prearranged time, the participants will get ready and enter the ID number in the website prescribed by the conference leader, and call the toll-free number to start the conference. Webcam, whiteboard (virtual), and synchronous are some of the additional vocabularies required for web conferencing. Some examples of web conferencing services are mentioned below:
Adobe Acrobat Connect
Genesys Conferencing
Skype Pro
Microsoft Office Live Meeting

Benefits Of Web Conferencing

Sharing PowerPoint Presentations: This is a basic feature and use of web conferencing. You can upload your presentation to a website and direct the participants in the conference to the website. This type of technology used can be combined with others such as conference call via telephone, Instant Messaging (IM) or Internet call. If appropriate, you can obviate the live component of the web conference and allow the participants to view the recorded presentation later, leisurely.

Sharing Applications: The applications that are used by the host, while presenting the information in the conference, can be shared with other participants also. By passing the control of the applications to the participants, the meeting will be more interactive and lively. This kind of hands-on approach will be useful for training corporates and demonstrating the working of a software.

Sharing Documents: This enables all the conference attendees to view the document or graphics on a projector or computer screen. The text document can be edited and modified by the conference participants by adding their valuable inputs. This kind of work collaboration will make the final work accurate and efficient. The remote participants can also participate in modifying the text documents such as sales and marketing documents, promotional materials, official letters etc.

Sharing Web Browser: The web browsing handled by the head of the conference can be linked with the browsing set of other participants. This synchronization of web browsing, makes others follow the page to page proceedings of the leader. If the leader chooses, the other active participants can also take turns to control the action. This kind of sharing in web conferencing is also called group surfing.

Conducting Real-time Polling: The host can make a questionnaire document and get the response from the participants and also display the result of the polling in the computer screen, after the answers are tabulated. The process is done instantaneously and this is an additional advantage.

Data Archiving: The data which is recorded for the conference, can be archived and retrieved whenever required.

Internet Call Capability: Money spent on long distance phone calls can be eliminated as voice communication can be made through Internet.

Instant Messaging: Instead of using voice communication, messages can be delivered to all the participants by the use of Instant Messaging(IM). IBM and Microsoft have introduced a product that combines the features of IM and web conferencing.

Audio/Video Streaming: With desktop and web camera, it is possible to conduct video conferencing and people can view live videos on their web browsers.

To host or participate in a successful web conference, follow the list of the best practices for web conferencing given below.

Gathering an Audience: It pays to keep it simple in this area. If someone hears about your webinar and wants to attend, you don't need to be too intrusive into their personal details. Just get the main information through the registration form and ask the rest of the questions later; questions like, "Where did you hear about this seminar" or "How long have you been in this field". You can get this information later if you want to. Because a longer form means a lowered interest from the applicant.

Exclusivity: If it's a web seminar, do not host it for too many people at one go. You should rather hold multiple sessions of the same seminar. This gives the listeners enough time for giving a satisfactory feedback and for asking questions. The lesser the people in a conference, the more attention they eventually pay.

Time Management: A very important habit you need to develop is setting a time limit to each part in a conference and sticking to it. Learn to eliminate anything that may delay the start or end of the conference, and be prompt. This is a very crucial point as you'd be wasting the time of everyone present at the conference, which is a big thing especially since you're already pressed for enough time to hold a web conference.

Preparation: Keep all your material at stand-by so that you can show it or talk about it whenever you want to. If you're not used to hosting a web session, you can practice it before you go live and record it. You need to be smooth in operating all the tools during the session.

Memorability: Keep your speech in the meeting or seminar, a speech that can be remembered. It should have a sizable impact on the listeners for them to remember whatever you said or showed. That makes it easier for them to attend the next session.

Good Technology: The better web conference hosting software that you can get your hands on. Some of them are paid, some are free -
Microsoft Office Online
Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro
Cisco WebEx

These are the best conferencing software, take your pick and get to know them better.

Clarity: Try to avoid being a speaker who keeps beating around the bush. It's perfectly fine to explain the context of a session or a point of discussion, but please don't turn it into a movie narration and drag it on for too long. Be straight and to the point. Know the places where some extra explanation might be necessary and add some points there and be done with it.

Recording: If you intend to host one seminar multiple times, it is a good practice to record some of the older sessions for reference during newer ones. You may even recycle some of the good points that you said in the older session. But whatever you do, do not reuse the entire session. That is cheap and lazy and gives too little scope for people to understand much about the topic, because you're just dishing out older talks over and over again.

Exploring Relevant Experiences: It is a good habit to keep a record of experiences regarding what you're going to talk about, whether they are your own or from someone else. Human experiences always have a way of explaining something better than a simple vocal discourse over a matter, you might want to exploit that a little.

Slow and Steady: Once you've understood the need to be efficient and fast, you will also get to know the need to be easy and steady. The more you hasten, the more your audience misses out on, which means you will get poor feedback and a storm in the allotted Q&A session.