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Web conferencing can allow participants to see a presenter's desktop. The presenter can also allow others to co-present, or, to take control of the shared desktop. Some web conferencing may use software installed on each person's PC (higher quality, fuller-featured); others may be web-based (easier to set up, compatible, and omni-accessible).

Seeing a shared desktop more easily allows all participants to understand the same shared message. Web conferencing also allows collaboration among participants who are not co-located, which can be ideal for teleworkers and has the benefit of reducing travel time and expense.

Because all participants can see the same presentation on their desktop, web conferencing is useful when a higher level of interaction, collaboration, and trust would benefit a project, such as to:

  • Demonstrate products and services
  • Share presentations
  • Collaborate on a project or document
  • Resolve technical issues inside a company or for clients
  • Conduct training
  • Record a meeting or session for subsequent playback

A few tips when using web conferencing:

  • Send email notices prior to the conference with date, time, toll-free numbers, passcodes, and any other information necessary to join the conference.
  • Allow time at the beginning of the conference for others to set up their meeting software.
  • Allow a little time at the beginning for social interaction; also useful because not everyone will join the discussion on time.
  • The host should practice their presentation beforehand.
  • Make presentations lively and plan for interaction.
  • Sound quality will be improved if participants mute their microphones when not speaking.

When investigating web conferencing, look for the ability to:

  • Offer both audio and video conferencing
  • Use VoIP (participants will need a microphone)
  • Record conferences for replay
  • Have conferences either secured or open to anyone with a link
  • Share presenter's desktop or an application on the desktop
  • Whiteboard
  • Use markup tools on presentation materials (with option to save or discard markups)
  • Text chat, either from participant to presenter, or, among participants
  • Put participants into breakout rooms
  • Offer tools to provide feedback to presenter (yes/no, go faster, ask question)
  • Create and share notes during session
  • Use operator assistance
  • Offer users a download of the presentation

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This page was last updated on June 5, 2009