I used to travel at least five days a week, and when I saw the movie ‘Up in the Air’ recently I had to reminisce. The character played by George Clooney was much like me once upon a time. Unfortunately, back in the day when technology hadn’t caught up yet, I too found myself in planes, on trains or in my trusted purple mini traveling from city to city pitching my wares.
Today, technology has thankfully not only caught up but has also become so commonplace and easy-to-use that you’ll kick yourself for not jumping on the bandwagon before now.
Companies like www.GoToMeeting.com offer an array of services that will let you be in the room in any city, or even country, without ever leaving your home office. You can get more done with less stress or expense. This can be a huge time saver, which is great.
Now imagine for a moment that you can be in six cities all at once today without spending a cent! You can by utilizing a trial of say www.ReadyTalk.com, www.webex.com, www.TimeBridge.com, www.IBM.com or many others. Your productivity will soar, your expenses will go down, your ability to tap into markets will dramatically increase…and you just might close sales you could never have before had you tried to physically be in the room in each city all in one day.
More and more companies of all sizes, and even one-man-show home-based business owners, are Web conferencing to rid themselves of ever-increasing travel costs, while increasing meeting productivity to boot.
Getting Started: At its simplest, Web conferencing is the online version to the conference call we’re all used to participating in by now. If you can use a telephone’s basic features, you can participate in a Web conference call. In many cases, participants can log into a restricted Web site, where they can view slide presentations, send text messages to others in the meeting, and work together on documents and spreadsheets. This is great. Web conferences take meeting facilitation to a whole new level!
History: Web conferencing became more mainstream in the mid-1990s with the launch of services by WebEx Communications, but these services lacked the simplicity and ease-of-use necessary to be widely used by the masses. In the last few years, many companies have moved to integrate their systems with common desktop tools that make them much easier to use. These advances have increased Web conferencing’s popularity, even for the most technologically challenged computer user.
Speaking of the more challenged technology user, now might be a good time to clarity two terms that you might hear a lot about when it comes to Web conferencing, ‘Webinar’ and ‘Webcast’. A ‘Webinar’ is an interactive seminar or presentation distributed online, while a ‘Webcast’ is a one-way audio or video presentation distributed online.
Features: Web conferencing programs offer a dizzying array of features and capabilities. Many programs can merge with your existing e-mail calendar messaging and office productivity applications, which are most likely part of your desktop already. A few programs allow attendees to view the presentation in their regular web browser without installing any additional software. Depending on the software, users can view presentations (such as PowerPoint), view information on the moderator’s computer desktop, hold interactive question-and-answer sessions, send messages through IM (instant message), ask questions through audio chat, transfer files between attendees, and so much more.
So next time you “need to be in Chicago by 8 am”, think about holding your first Web conference so you can give your sales presentation virtually! You’ll save money and time, making the most of your valuable resources.