Web Conferencing – What is it?
By Diane Parker
Web Conferencing is, very simply, a meeting, conference or seminar that is held over the World Wide Web. Web conferencing can refer to audio, video or text-based conversations and are conducted in real-time.
Web conferencing is an incredibly useful resource for anyone who trades within a global market place. It literally allows you to be in two places at once - sitting at home or in your office whilst conducting a meeting with someone one the other side of the world.
In its simplest form web conferencing can take the form of free downloads such as Microsoft NetMeeting or Yahoo Messenger. Subscribers can participate in text-based 'chats', inviting others into their conversations and being able to communication in real-time. Add a simple digital camera to this equation and you have the beginnings of an elementary web conferencing application.
At the other end of the scale, the most sophisticated applications allow seminars and presentations to be made to hundreds of delegates at the same time. Meetings can be fully interactive, allowing question and answer sessions, the sharing of files and documents and slide show presentations to be broadcast.
What Can I Do With Web Conferencing?
How you choose to use web conferencing will very much depend upon your line of work. A webinar (an online seminar) is less interactive than a web meeting, but is a very effective means of presenting sales pitches, performance reviews and delivering staff training.
A web meeting on the other hand, can be fully interactive not only in terms of audio and video but also by allowing the sharing of documents and files and viewing them online.
What is Online Collaboration?
Online collaboration is an excellent resource for project management, especially when team members are located in different geographical locations. Online collaboration provides an advanced level of document management and file sharing. Documents and files can be viewed, modified and updated online and in real time.
What Are The Benefits Of Web Conferencing?
The main benefits of web conferencing are to be found in terms of time and money savings. The need for travel is greatly reduced, and therefore so are the associated costs of travel - tickets, accommodation, subsistence, to name but a few. Employees spend less time waiting for flights, travel or just generally being away from their desk and therefore have more time to spend productively.
Enhanced communication is another benefit of web conferencing. Where colleagues could perhaps only meet face to face a few times a year, for example, web conferencing allows them to meet on a daily basis, if required. With people talking more, work gets done more efficiently and more accurately.
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How Much Does It Cost?
The cost of web conferencing depends on how sophisticated an application you need. Low-level, one-to-one systems can be set up these days for virtually nothing. The most advanced systems, unsurprisingly, can run into thousands of dollars. Careful research, however, and thoughtful analysis of what you need from a web conferencing system can allow you to budget accordingly and match a system to your needs. The chances are, if you are spending money on travel then you will recoup the cost of your web conferencing software over time.
Diane Parker is a web content writer who specializes in internet related topics. Her conferencing articles include: web conferencing software, choosing a web conferencing tool and internet conferencing.
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