We interviewed one of our experts to get the lowdown on how web conferencing can transform your next conference call.
Q: Who uses web conferencing?
A: The use of web conferencing is not limited by industry, the size of a business or the location of its people. We service all organisations, from commercial to not-for-profit – some have regular weekly meetings and others get together on an ad-hoc basis.
The c-suite, senior management, creative teams, roving sales staff, event organisers, personal assistants and anyone in between are often widely dispersed and can use web conferencing to their advantage.
Q: What types of meetings are suitable for web conferences?
A: Customers conduct web meetings for a wide variety of reasons. Some of my customers have conducted real-time training sessions on new products, or held sales meetings to report and get a visual on MTD figures via spreadsheets and graphs. They have also held project meetings where the group needs to collaborate on a new website design or other creative concept and group decisions need to made quickly. Really, any type of meeting where participants in multiple locations need to see a presentation or share screens to show important documents or reports.
Q: Do participants need any special equipment to host or join a web conference?
A: Other than a computer and a reliable internet connection, and a webcam if participants want to see each other, special equipment is not needed.
Q: Do participants need to download any special software?
A: There is no need to download any special software. Once they have received an invitation from the meeting organiser, participants can join the web conference via their web browser.
Q: What is the main difference between web conferencing and video conferencing?
A: Video conferencing is the live streaming of images over the internet and simply adds another interactive layer to web conferencing. Some of our customers want to give their participants the opportunity to follow along with the slide show that is being presented to enhance engagement. Others may need to share documents or work on a project together at the same time. Web conferencing allows them to easily achieve this. Conducting a meeting face-to-face is sometimes an important aspect of a customer’s meeting needs, but for whatever reason it is logistically impossible. One such customer experienced this dilemma and chose to invite his 10 participants to each use their webcams during his web conference. This was a much more cost-effective solution compared to the costs and time involved in organising and running a traditional face-to-face meeting where all participants need to physically be in the same room at the same time.
Q: What are the features most valued by your customers?
A: Many of my customers find the recording feature extremely useful. One particular customer wanted to run a training session with her sales team. A handful of staff could not attend the training and as the host, she was able to record, download and send the entire session and associated training materials to those who couldn’t make it on the day.
Screen sharing was also an important feature to one customer, who was introducing a new product to his team. They needed to see exploded diagrams of the product and how the components fitted together.
Another customer really loved the ability to annotate and highlight aspects of her presentation in real time, enabling her to draw the attention of her audience to certain parts of her presentation, which helped to engage her audience.
The instant message function is also a favourite feature as it is an efficient way to run a Q&A session. This was valuable to a customer as it allowed conference participants to ask questions without disrupting the flow of the presentation. It also enabled her to answer questions when it suited her.
Q: Why do conference call customers like web conferencing?
A: Similar to a reservationless or DIY audio conference, customers like that they can initiate a web conference and invite participants at a moment’s notice via our web portal. They also like that they can choose which part of their screen they share with meeting participants. A large number of web conference hosts also love the ability to give control to other presenters or facilitators at the click of a button.
Q: You provide 24/7 helpdesk support. What are some of the questions organisers ask during the web conference that you are able to troubleshoot on the spot?
A: We receive a wide variety of questions from customers during a web conference that need to be answered immediately. Usually a participant can’t join a conference because of a misplaced access code, or sometimes a host can’t start their web conference because it is in pause mode. Often, a host will ask how to change presenters and give someone else control of the screen. We work with the customer on the spot and go through a series of ‘engine’ checks to quickly and calmly solve any issues they may have. Importantly, we are always available to help the host run their meeting as smoothly as possible. If they have any technical difficulties, participants can press *0*0 on their telephone keypad and we’ll be there to help in an instant.
Q: What are the main benefits of using web conferencing?
A: Cost effectiveness and the ability to collaborate by sharing screens are the main benefits of web conferencing when a group of people in different locations, and often time zones, need to come together to share ideas and make decisions quickly.
Q: How would users get the most out of their web conferencing experience?
A: I usually advise my meeting organisers to use their phone line (simple audio conferencing) alongside web conferencing. This ensures line quality and avoids relying on the speed of an individual’s internet connection or VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol), which could risk the smooth running of a web meeting. Bundling audio with web conferencing ensures customers get the most out of their web conferencing experience.