What I know about … web conferencing

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Web-conferencing: is this is the secret to more productive meetings? Photo: via shutterstock.com

As a definition, web conferencing is the real time sharing of information by multiple computer users over the internet. The information can be shared either visually, orally or both visually and orally.

Web conferencing was first introduced in its most basic form in the mid 90’s but like all new technology was initially expensive to both install and use. In the early days the conferences were only about one-way communication between the presenter and the attendees. It really started to take off in 2003/4 when high speed broadband began to be rolled out.

Today any employee with a PC/laptop and an internet connection can easily set up, or participate in, a web conference with multiple attendees. As technology has developed, webcams and audio links have been added to give a live HD video experience, very similar to a full video conferencing experience. Attendees can now interact with either the presenter and/or the other attendees.

Two basic forms of web conferencing are available. Firstly –one where an application like Adobe Connect is loaded onto each individual’s device. Secondly and more commonly, a clouded application such as GoToMeeting  is opened on each attendee’s device. Cloud or web-based conferencing applications are definitely the system of choice today for most businesses. However, the technology is only at its early stages and there are still quality issues with the experience that have to be improved on.

The obvious benefits to your business are the drastically reduced cost of meetings. No travel time or travel costs for attendees, no conference rooms to hire or equip. Web conferencing is low cost and super convenient. You don’t even have to leave the comfort of your own task chair to attend. Meetings are stereotypically more focussed, efficient and take less time than face-to face-meeting as there is no opportunity for any personal interaction.

Checklist – What do I need to be able to have a web conference?

1. A computer – configured to support your chosen web conferencing system. Check the specification of the web conferencing software or cloud based application, to make sure your computer can support it.
2. An internet connection – the faster your internet connection (high speed broadband) the better your web conference experience will be.
3. Audio – can either be delivered through your phone line or over the internet. If it is internet audio you will need speakers or headphones and a microphone.
4. Web camera – most people now require visuals as well as audio in a conference. In this case, you will need a web camera to provide a visual experience.
5. Software – you will require either a subscription to a cloud based web conferencing provider (although there is quite a lot of freeware out there as well) or conferencing software, downloaded onto your device (PC laptop, tablet or smart phone).
Good luck and remember everyone looks terrible on a screen – so don’t worry!

Interested in reading more about office technology? Read our opinion on the performance of LCD televisions vs. projectors in the boardroom here.

 

 

 

 

“What I know about…” is a monthly series produced by Officeionado – the Charter Build blog. If you would like to read our previous entries please go here The articles on the Charter Build blog – Officeionado – are written by the CB team and edited by Jane Bright, our Design Director. If you have any questions regarding our content, syndication of our content or content submissions, please contact Jane via email jane@charterbuild.com.au. For notification on new blog posts either subscribe (top of sidebar on this page) or follow Charter Build @charterbuild and Jane Bright @1JaneBright.