Web Conferencing Four Ways
Four Styles of Web Conferencing
Web conferencing software supports multiple options for interaction. Although the software is the same, each usage style has its own characteristics, benefits and limitations. It is critical that users understand the subtleties of the different approaches to ensure they use an appropriate style when engaging an audience.
Web Conference Styles
Increasingly flexible work schedules, geographically distributed teams and tight budgets have increased the interest and demand for conducting web meetings. According to analyst firm Frost & Sullivan, the use of web conference software for conducting web meeting has continued to grow for the last two years in spite of depressed economic conditions.
Web meetings are the same as on premise meetings, except they occur over the Internet. Web meetings occur in real-time, typically have a specific purpose or agenda and are arguably one of the most interactive uses of web conferencing software. Web meetings may involve:
- Voice communications
- Document, desktop and application sharing
- Other innovative features like WebConCentral’s cobrowsing
Web meetings are generally not ideal for pre-recorded content or one-way communications.
Another interactive, but less formal use for web conferencing software is a collaboration. Like a web meeting, the interaction is in real-time, but may not involve a set agenda. Collaboration allows two or more participants to alter a document, application or other content together without being in same physical location.
Web conferencing software generally offers multiple ways to share your screen to others. For example, WebConCentral supports:
- Sharing one program, but also share other applications as you open them
- Sharing one program, but keeping the rest of your desktop private
- Sharing your entire desktop
WebConCentral users can also pass presenter/sharing controls to others, grant remote control of a computer, control someone else's machine and participate a unique collective slide show creation using the speed slides feature.
Webcasts are much less interactive than web meetings. Webcasts are meant to viewed and only offer one-way, broadcast style communication of content from a presenter to an audience, hence the name – webcast. Webcasts can be pre-recorded or presented in real-time to a large number of participants, since, in general, no interaction is supported If you require interaction with your audience, then a webcast is not appropriate.
Webinar/ Web Conference/Video Conference
Webinar is a contraction of web seminar and represent a happy medium between a web meeting and the one-way webcast. Webinars are still one-way communication, but they add support for limited audience interaction. A webinar may include audience questions or a poll, but not the same fluid interaction as is offered in a web meeting or collaboration. Webinars may include:
- Power Point presentations
- Audio via a conference call or VoIP combination.
- Web-browser tours
- Polls and surveys that allow the presenter to conduct questions with multiple choice answers.
- Screen sharing
Additionally, software like WebConCentral supports the operational aspects of conducting a webinar by providing tools to sign-up participants and monitor attendance.
No matter which style of web conferencing you elect to use, you should take the time to educate yourself on the features of your conference software that support the interaction style.