As a follow up to yesterday’s post, I wanted to discuss using the Web for business meetings and seminars (webinars). Yesterday I discussed how live video (webcam), although popular, is not necessarily a good use of your Internet bandwidth. The issue is these do not contain much information for the bandwidth used to send the video. On the other hand a picture is worth a thousand words, a good illustration or even visually looking at the same thing can be invaluable. This a wide practice in the industry, to use a web meeting room that usually allows you to share your desktop with the group. You can navigate your desktop and show everyone what you are doing.
There are several free programs that allow you to connect one on one and share your desktop. IChat allows this on Mac’s, Skype is able to share your desktop, Microsoft’s remote assistant allows for this type function, and you can setup a free Acrobat.com has a meeting function. There are commercial packages such as GoToMeeting, Microsoft Live Meeting, you can upgrade your free Acrobat account, and a paid service in Skype allows you to have this functionality with multiple users. These applications also may offer a chat feature, and a white board function that allows you to write and draw on the fly.
For a commercial use it is hard to beat the functionality and reliability of GoToMeeting and LiveMeeting. I have participated in meeting with both programs. GoToMeeting is more popular but both just work. You do not have to deal with connection issues, you start your meeting and people participate. GoToMeeting allows for seamless voice conferencing either using your computer speakers and microphone (headset works best) or using your telephone.
Web meetings allow for good collaboration, you can all be looking at the same thing. The moderator can interactively work with his PowerPoint slide show so everyone is on the same screen.
These programs cost a little money but they are worth the price.