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Video & Web Conferencing: How To Choose The System That Is Best For You

Dan Richmond
Expert Author
Published: 2005-11-22

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Video conferencing, web conferencing and online meetings are fast becoming important tools for organizations that must communicate with staff, clients or students in different geographical locations.

If you have been thinking about using this technology for your enterprise, it is important to first outline your needs and then match them with the various online conferencing systems that are being offered in the marketplace. Here are a few things to consider when you shop around for the system that is best for you:

1. Do you need to communicate with one static location or with a variety of possibly changing locations? Some conferencing systems are designed to connect two or more specific locations. If you have a head office and a fixed branch office that you want to communicate with, then a fixed connection system could work for you.

However, if you want to connect with a variety of locations or allow people anywhere to join your conferences or meetings then you should choose a system that allows you to add users no matter where they log in from.

2. Do you want a browser based system or can you work with proprietary software? A few of the original web and video conferencing applications had their own software and even specific hardware to install. Now it is possible to use conferencing systems that run on all browsers and all operating systems without the need for special hardware. Take a look at the various systems being offered and choose the one that would fit in with your organization's technical capabilities.

3. Are some of your participants behind firewalls? These days many, if not most offices, and even individual computers connected to the Internet are protected by firewalls. The firewalls keep hackers out, but they may also pose a problem for some conferencing systems. Check to see if the conferencing system of your choice can deal with this problem.

4. How important is video to you? If you would like to see your colleagues and staff as they participate in your meetings, then you will need a system that allows some locations to hook up to the meeting with a web camera. Check to see how many individual video windows are allowed by the various applications that you consider, and choose the one that best meets your needs.

5. What features do you need? Do you want to poll attendees and get immediate results while you are online? Some systems allow the host to present a question and then all the participants can vote or give an answer with the click of their mouse.

Do you want to share applications online? If your conferencing system allows application sharing then it is possible for the host to present PowerPoint presentations, for example, that will be visible to all the attendees.

Make a list of the communications features that you need and match them to the capabilities of each system that you consider.

6. What is your budget? Of course you want the most features that are possible but you also have to weigh-in the costs. When you make your decision, keep in mind the benefits that you will get by communicating online, think about the cost of doing this offline and then look at the fees charged by the conference technology providers. Choose a communications package that will give you a good return on your investment.

Now, armed with this checklist, go online and do a search for web or video conferencing and pick out a system that will allow you to conduct your meetings online at a price that you can afford.

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About the Author:
Dan Richmond is CEO and Co-founder of MegaMeeting.com. MegaMeeting provides web conferencing and video conferencing services for individuals, businesses and educational institutions. For more information, or for a free live demonstration, please visit http://www.MegaMeeting.com or call (818) 783-4311.

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