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Guru's Guide to Choosing Web Conference Software

Apr 27, 2008
We small business owners have to be careful. We need to invest in growing our business, but not waste a cent. Web conference software can help, if you understand what to look for.

Small business owners often hesitate when thinking about internet conferencing services. There's a fear it'll cost too much or that they'll get stuck paying too much for a bunch of useless features. This article will guide you through the types of plans available and the features you should consider.

Web conference pricing is much more accessible than a few years ago. Vendors are pursuing the small- and medium-size market, and have pricing plans geared for them. For example, Webex's MeetMeNow prices out to as low as $35 a month for an unlimited number of meetings (10 participants per meeting).

The trick to deciding whether the finances make sense is to figure out what you'll save. Are you traveling to meetings? Internet web conferencing will save travel dollars. Are you spending a lot on long distance phone calls or cellular minutes? Web conferencing provides a toll-free number for all the participants. When you calculate your savings you'll probably agree that web conferencing software is a good investment.

Now to look at features. If you're already comfortable with internet conferencing you likely have a mental list of what you want. If not, the best advice is to read this list of features and then sign up for a free trial -- it'll give you a chance to decide which features you really need.

Audio Conferencing: Your web conference vendor should provide a toll free number for participants. If possible, they should also allow for VoIP calling (calling over the Internet).

Video Conferencing: Video streaming is going mainstream. You can hook up a webcam to your pc and let the attendees see you as you speak. Most web conference vendors integrate video streaming into their software.

White Board: A shared, online white board is one of my favorite web conferencing features. Meeting participants can work together on an idea, drawing and erasing, just as if they were in the same room.

Annotating Documents: Reading and edit documents together. Mark up that Proposal as you go, with everyone seeing the same results.

Number and Size of Meetings: I prefer a plan that allows unlimited meetings. Some of the entry-level programs will limit the number of participants per meeting, but how often do we need more than 10 people on a call anyway?

Has this helped? Look over this list of features and think about how you see web conferencing fitting into your business. The best way to decide is to sign up for a free trial. Give the software a spin and see if it meets your needs.
About the Author
Tyler benefitted from web conference software while employed at a virtual office. Learn more about getting web conference free trials at his virtual meeting site.
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