I’m sure you’ve seen the articles about how to save money in this up-and-down economy, so you’re likely aware that web conferencing is becoming more and more popular. For those who are unfamiliar, web conferencing is a way to hold a meeting virtually so that everyone can attend and interact, as opposed to talking through a business phone system.
Although web conferencing was branded with the “impersonal” reputation in the past, the economy forced many businesses into trying the idea. Without utilizing web conferencing, businesses were forced to fly clients and other business partners out to one location. Between hotels, flights, food, and transportation costs, this method was less than ideal. To many people’s surprise, web conferencing was actually a great way to hold a successful meeting for several reasons:
- You do not have to worry about geographic limitations when it comes time to hire. This opens up more opportunity for you to find the best employee for your company.
- Speaking through an online medium can help relax employees.
- Time is saved because you do not have to book flights, hotels, rental cars, etc.
- Time is saved because you do not have to plan a meeting around when someone’s flight arrives (which can often be a long process).
- You can utilize the polling feature (a feature that allows everyone to vote on an opinion or idea). This helps employees stay honest and save the data on your software.
The advantages to web conferencing have become quite obvious to many companies, but actually putting the idea into motion hasn’t been quite so obvious. There are tons of web conferencing software to choose from, so it is difficult to know which one best fits your needs. Follow these steps to help you ensure you make the right decision:
Make The Right Web Conferencing Choices With These Easy Steps
1. Make a list of Objectives—There are many different features that web conferencing has to offer, so consider a few of the things you’ll need to take into consideration:
- How many people will be attending your meetings through the Web?
- Will you be holding web conferences often?
- Do you want a lot of interaction through polling and/or file sharing?
- Do you have an IT department to help you, or will you need the help of a customer service department?
- Know your monthly budget and security requirements.
2. Outsourced vs. In-House—There are two ways your company can go when hoping to utilize web conferencing: outsourced or in-house. There are of course advantages and disadvantages to each, so consider the two options:
- Outsourced—Most companies use outsourced web conferencing because it is more cost effective. Web conferencing software is still changing and adding features, so many companies do not want to invest in something that will continually to upgrade.
- In-House—This means that your company will invest in software and run it right from the office. This is usually recommended if you have an IT team to help sort out any kinks (which inevitably comes with technology!), but other companies have found the software easy to use. Most software options also offer customer service departments. If you’re planning on using this software often, this is a good route to take.
If Outsourced Software Fits Your Needs…
If you’ve decided to go with outsourced web conferencing, you will want to pay attention to the payment plans available. Most companies will ask you if you want to pay-per-use or pay-per-seat. Pay-per-use means you pay for the time you spend in the web conference, while the ladder means you pay a flat fee for a certain number of seats. It is recommended by most that you start by paying per-use so that you can try it out before committing to an entire month. Once you try out a few different vendors, you can decide which software works best for your company purposes and then change to a pay-per-seat plan.
If In-House Software Is What You Want…
If you’ve decided you’re going to purchase web conferencing software on your own, you will find that the choices are a bit overwhelming. Do your research before making the purchase, but here are a few of the most popular choices to get you started:
- GoToMeeting Web Conferencing
- MyMeeting123 Web Conferencing
- Mega Meeting Web Conferencing
- Fuze Meeting Web Conferencing
Although it may seem a bit overwhelming at first, web conferencing is truly worth the research. This type of meeting has quickly become a popular way to save money, and many are finding that not only does it work well for businesses, but the out-of-town clients and employees prefer this method. After all, I may as well expose the elephant in every meeting room–unless your business is located in Hawaii, flying for business was never really liked.
Amanda DiSilvestro is a writer on topics ranging from social media to employee background checks. She writes for an online resource that gives advice on topics including business phone systems to small businesses and entrepreneurs for the leading B2B Directory, Business.com.
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