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Webcam Conferencing: How to Get Started

May 5, 2008
Have you tried webcam conferencing yet? No? Sometimes email and phone calls aren't enough. You need to see the speaker. Time to get started with webcam conferencing

Some webcams are still pretty spendy (well over $200) but you can find a lot of good-quality webcams priced from $28-$80. I like the Logitech models and have found them to be easy to use for a good price.

The link in this article's resource box will show you several webcams to consider. Whatever you decide on, make sure it's a USB-based webcam. Your installation will be easy -- plug in, run a quick installation, and off you go!

Personal Use:

For family use the easiest starting point is with instant messaging software (AOL Instant Messenger, Windows Live, Yahoo). It's free, easy to use, and chances are you have friends who already use it. Get a couple of your friends to practice with you and you'll be ready to roll.

Professional Useage:

Businesses don't use video messaging much yet. They tend stick to web conference software. Fortunately, the major vendors all support video streaming and will integrat with your webcam.

I still think you're best off practicing over instant messaging first, just to make sure you have the hang of your webcam hardware. Then it's time to practice with your web conferencing software. Worried about the cost of the practice time? Sign up for a free trial with a conferencing vendor and take your webcam for a spin. This article's resource box has a link pointing you to a full-featured 14-day trial for online web conferencing.

Tips:

Slow down! (Your speech, that is.) Webcam conferencing usually doesn't quite keep up with natural human speech. You don't need to talk like you're in quicksand, just remember to talk a half-beat slower than normal. This is a common recommendation for presenters anyway -- it's good to get in the habit.

Check out your webcam's features. Many of them offer real-time enhancement (think: wrinkle-smoothing), lighting adjustments, and other features to improve the image. Use that web conference free trial to practice a bit.

All done? Great. You're part of the webcam conferencing world. Have fun!
About the Author
Tyler experienced web conferencing while employed as a technology consultant. Learn more about getting webcam conference free trials at his website.
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