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Web Conferencing - Putting the Working Lunch Out of Business

Posted on 11.02.2014

By Allison Howen, Associate Editor

Web conferencing is replacing the “working” lunch meeting.

Instead of scheduling meet-ups so employees, clients and partners can get together and discuss projects in person, businesses are increasingly turning to Web conferencing platforms to collaborate. These platforms enable key groups and audiences to communicate via audio and video conferencing technology from any location, enabling businesses to connect with stakeholders at a moment’s notice and save resources associated with traveling.

It is important to keep in mind, however, that not all Web conferencing platforms offer the same functionality. The challenge is knowing what you are looking for before making a commitment. Here are a few things to take into consideration during the critical decision-making process.

Ease-of-Use

Regardless of whether a business is leveraging Web conferencing technology to set up a virtual meeting with a coveted prospect or to collaborate with a group of remote employees, brands must ensure the chosen solution is user-friendly, as is the case for national staffing and consulting firm Messina Group.

“We use Web conferencing to interview clients, present decks and record seminars. For us, the most important feature is an intuitive format,” said Michael Parks, CEO of Messina Group. “Most people on staff are not technical, so an easy-to-use operating system takes precedence.”

GoToMeeting, for instance, offers a straight-forward interface that enables users to launch and/or schedule meetings with just a few clicks. Once the meeting is created, users can send out email invitations, which include a meeting link and dial-in number, directly from the platform. Attendees can then join the meeting directly from the email invite.

Even though ease-of-use is a top priority, it is also important for businesses to compare the features and functionality offered by Web conferencing platforms.

A Visual Feature Set

It is essential that companies select a Web conferencing solution that offers both video conferencing and screen-sharing functionality. These features are important for every user-case scenario, from demonstrating a new product to employees to hosting a brainstorming session.

Among the Web’s most popular video conferencing solutions is Skype, which offers a multitude of features including screen sharing, audio calls, file transfers and instant messaging. It is important to note, however, that the number of people who can attend a group video call on Skype is limited to 10. Conversely, a platform like AnyMeeting, which can be leveraged for a variety of purposes, from hosting team meetings to webinars, enables users to create a meeting (with screen-sharing capabilities) for up to 200 participants.
Aside from video conferencing and screen sharing, businesses should also evaluate the collaboration tools that each Web conferencing platform offers. In fact, collaboration functionality can be the point of difference when comparing platforms.

Collaboration Functionality

It’s easy to overlook collaboration features like chat and content sharing, but these features often become the most valuable aspects of a platform. This is particularly true when a business is leveraging Web conferencing technology for meetings with remote employees.

The ClickMeeting platform, for instance, offers private chat, moderated Q&A functionality and
chat translation. The latter supports 52 languages and displays each attendee’s location along with their name, and shows both the original and translated chat in real-time. That said, other platforms, such as Fuze, offer collaboration features like annotation tools for cloud content and whiteboards.

Plus, Fuze integrates with apps like Box and Dropbox. According to Michael Riley, the co-founder of content marketing platform Boxter, these types of collaboration features make it easier for teams to share ideas and information.

Let’s Do Lunch

Web conferencing platforms may be reducing the amount of lunch meetings that business professionals are scheduling, but in return, this technology is providing a more accessible and less resource-draining experience for teams.

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