Web Conferencing

Web Conferencing Resources - Web Conferencing Tools, tips, and Web Conferencing News

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Microsoft Live Meeting Soon to Be Upgraded to Microsoft Lync Online Online

Microsoft Lync 2010, the next generation of Microsoft Office Communications Server, can help your customers reach new levels of performance and productivity by making connections more engaging, productive, and accessible. With a single interface that unites communications, supports a variety of mobile devices, and offers interoperability with existing systems, Lync Server enables connections—virtually anytime, anywhere. It does this by bringing together the different ways people communicate together in a single interface that facilitates rapid user adoption that reduces both capital and operational costs. Customers can choose to use the fully hosted Lync Online as a pure cloud service or split cloud/on-premise service with the Lync Server.

What can it do?

  • It's a single interface that unites voice, instant messaging (IM), audio, video, and web conferencing.
  • Lync Server 2010 can deployed on-premise or in a hosted or hybrid environment.
  • Stay connected virtually anywhere with an Internet connection through mobile or web access, and still have security features outside the firewall without need of a VPN connection.
  • Connects with other public instant messaging networks such as Windows Live, AOL, Yahoo!, and Google Talk. Audio and video calls with users on Windows Live Messenger is supported.

  • Search for others based on skill, expertise, and group information.
  • View the presence of contacts and communicate with them via voice, video, sharing applications, or sharing PowerPoints.
  • With the new Activity Feed, you can see your contacts' status updates, contact photos, location, and other activities.
  • Web Conferencing: Share documents, presentations, annotate slides, and use visual pointers for more effective discussions via instant messaging and online meetings.
  • Schedule meetings from Outlook and join via the PC, phone, or web access.
  • Lync Online Audio Conference Calling is available through a very limited number of approved conference call providers including Communique Conferencing.
What happens to the Existing Live Meeting Service?

With the introduction of Office 365, Microsoft is introducing the new Lync Online service. Lync Online is a single interface that unites voice, instant messaging (IM), audio, video, and web conferencing. New customers who buy Office 365 will be given Lync Online instead of Live Meeting.

Existing BPOS customers, Live Meeting will still be available in Office 365 for transition purposes. It will coexist along side Lync Online, with access to new meetings scheduled in Lync Online and already existing meetings scheduled in Live Meeting.

Friday, October 01, 2010

GotoMeeting Review

GoToWebinar / GotoMeeting

What I Liked:
  • The user-interface was very easy to follow and figure out.
  • They offer fully integrated tools for promoting your events, tracking registration, sending automated reminders, etc., although not all of the system emails can be customized as much as I would like.
  • The fixed monthly fee was very appealing, because it would allow me to budget for the expense regardless of how many webinars I did per month, or how many people attended. I see that as a big bonus for some nonprofits too.
  • They have advanced tools to monitor participants during the webinar. For example, you can tell how long your webinar was the top window on someone’s computer and how often they were working on something else.
  • GoToMeeting lets you poll the audience live by presenting multiple choice questions on the screen that participants can click on, giving you instant, compiled feedback about what people think about various topics. Several participants in the webinar I did said they really loved the instant polling feature.
What I Didn’t Like:
  • While all the data on participants is nice after the fact, for me, all of those monitors and icons were in the way during the live event. I couldn’t present the webinar and monitor all those panels at the same time, so they were distractions more than anything else.
  • Other than sending in chat messages, there was no way for me to know which specific participants had questions or would like to participate in exercises with me.
  • When you record a meeting in GotoMeeting or GotoWebinar, you make a settings choice before the recording starts. You can either save the recording file in Citrix’s proprietary format that requires attendees to download their video codec for playback, or you tell it to convert the recording file to the more standard WMV format (which is what Microsoft Live Meeting does by default). Citrix’s format is more efficient, but if you plan to make the recording generally available to the public, the .wmv (windows media) standard format is much more useful. I chose to enable the conversion to WMV. If you choose to convert to WMV format, the conversion process immediately starts. There is no confirmation dialog and no opportunity to delay the conversion till later. That is significant because the conversion process is extremely resource intensive and can take a very long time. My computer crawed for several hours. I came back to find the conversion progress bar at 100% and “Done” in the conversion dialog box. But my computer was frozen deader than a doornail. I couldn’t even CTRL-ALT-DEL to bring up the Task Manager. I had to do a hardware shutdown and reboot. When I rebooted, I found that I had a nice big 68MB WMV file in my directory, but it wouldn’t play. It had no audio or video properties associated with it. It would not load in any media player (including Citrix’s officially approved converter… Microsoft Expression Encoder 4). It took over 4 minutes to get someone from Citrix Technical Support. They eventually they could say nothing other than “Looks like your file is corrupted. Sorry about that.”-To record the webinar for later viewing, I had to record the audio on my own hard drive, and then allow GoToWebinar to integrate the files. It worked OK, but seems fraught with potential for problems. It also took several hours to convert the recording format to something useful such as .wmv. Otherwise attendees would need to download a codec to view the recording.
  • The "free" toll audio conference call service HAD MAJOR PROBLEMS. The quality was poor and it dropped callers. I was wondering how they were able to offer this for "free".
  • One of my attendees called customer service to get help joining and no one answered the phone. It rang for 7 minutes and went to voice mail.
In summary, the service is good for non-critical simply meetings with a small number of people. If you need reliability and customer support there is no better product on the market than Microsoft Live Meeting.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Friday, April 14, 2006

Web Conferencing vs. Web Casting Explained
While the term “Webcast” is often used to mean “Web conference,” it is actually a different approach to holding a meeting via the Internet. A Webcast is analogous to a TV broadcast, in which a live or prerecorded program is sent from a central location out to viewers – in this case, streamed over the Internet. The Webcast is typically viewed using Microsoft© Windows Media Player or RealPlayer. Web conferencing, in contrast, is more similar to a face-face meeting or seminar, with multiple degrees of presentation, interaction, and collaboration among many computer users.

Web conferencing – interacting over the Internet
Web conferencing allows a presenter to show an audience what is on his/her computer screen and collaborate in a number of ways.

- Data: Web conferencing is focused on computer-based data (presentations, documents, software apps, or a desktop), which it can display and easily manipulate. That makes it easier for the businessperson to use, and makes it fit most day-to-day business meetings and events. Some Web conferencing platforms offer Webcam video.
- Web & phone: Most Web conferences use an audio conference call to let the group hear the presenter. Phone audio is more reliable and higher quality than Internet audio. And it allows real-time interaction among participants in the event. But it does add the cost and effort of using the phone as well as a browser.
- Small to mid-sized groups: The data-sharing and two-way interactivity work well for groups up 500 attendees. Also, costs scale with the number of users, making very large Web conferences more expensive than similarly sized Webcasts. Meetings can be hosted or attended from any PC with an Internet connection. No production or special equipment is required.
- Two-way: Web conferences are more interactive, with the ability to share presentation rights and control of applications among all group members. For collaboration, in-depth presentations, sales demos and training it can’t be beat.

Sample vendors: http://www.communiqueconferencing.com

Webcasting – broadcasting over the Internet
Webcasting technologies use streaming media technologies that are great for delivering all aspects of an event over the Internet.

- Video: The biggest difference between Webcasting and Web conferencing is the predominance of video vs. sharing desktop applications and content. That makes Webcasting preferable for high-profile public events. To make the video TV quality requires onsite production support, powerful servers, and lots of Internet bandwidth, which is why the base cost of a Webcast can be very high.
Net-only delivery: Live or archived video is delivered over the Internet and the audio is provided via speakers on your PC.
- Large events: By using high-capacity distributed servers, Webcasting companies can deliver events to audiences of thousands. The services digitize the content and then send it to servers that distribute the content to the audience. The processing steps introduce a delay between the presenter and the audience – for example, the audience is seeing what the presenter did 30 seconds ago, although it appears live to the attendee. Unlike production costs, per-attendee distribution is cheap – just the cost of bandwidth – so very large events are less expensive as Webcasts than they are as Web conferences.
- One-way: Streaming media is a technology developed to compress and transfer video and/or audio data through the Internet in such a way that the file can start to play while it is downloading. The content can either be “live" or “archived”. The distribution is fine for large events in which there can’t be much interaction between the audience and the presenter anyway. Furthermore, the delay in delivery of the content can make real-time interaction awkward. That’s why interactive tools like Q&A have been non-existent or rarely used.

Sample vendors: www.blueskybroadcast.com, http://www.playstream.com/default.aspx, www.vodium.com, www.on24.com


Sunday, September 04, 2005

How to Choose a Web Conferencing Solution

When beginning the search for a Web conferencing solution, it is important to screen a number of vendors. Visit their website, review live demos, seek client testimonials and, most important, ask questions.

Before taking these steps, be sure to set your objectives, note the features that you require and estimate your monthly budget. Once this is established, be prepared to spend time gathering information from each vendor being considered and attending live demos.

Here are a few basic areas that should be addressed before talking to vendors:

1. How many participants do you anticipate attending your online meetings or events?

2. Will the number of participants remain consistent from meeting to meeting or will the number change?

3. How many meeting will be conducted each week, month or quarter? Will usage fluctuate depending on the time of year?

4. What type of content will be presented (Power Point slides, software applications, web-based applications, documents, or spreadsheets)?

5. What degree of interactivity to you require (Q&A, polling/voting, application sharing, text chatting, live video, file sharing, etc.)?

6. How much support do you need before, during and after your meeting (remember, the degree of customer service offered varies greatly from vendor to vendor)?

7. What is your monthly budget?

8. Are there any special security requirements?

9. Are your attendees accessing your meeting behind corporate firewalls?

10. What types of operating systems do you need the service to support?

Now that you’ve determined your requirements, its time to choose a vendor. Here are a few suggestions:

1. Select a pricing model: When you shop for Web conferencing technology, you’ll find a wide range of pricing plans and conditions. Web conferencing typically is priced either on a software user-license basis (pay per seat) or per minute of usage (pay per use).

• Pay per use: you pay only for the time you and your attendees spend in Web conferences.
• Pay per seat: you pay a flat monthly fee for a certain number of concurrent users (“seats”).

At first glance the tradeoff may seem simple, however, the answer is far more complicated. Some additional considerations are:

Minimum number of seats: Most vendors require that you buy a minimum of five seats in a pay-per-seat license model. For example, at $100 per seat, your monthly cost is $500.

Contracts: Most pay-per-seat plans require a term commitment ranging from three months to one year. If you are beginning to use Web conferencing for the first time, you will most likely not make full use of your pay per seat plan in the first month or two, but you will pay the full amount anyway. You are also obligated to pay if you determine that the technology does not meet your requirements. With pay-per-use, you have more flexibility to make sure the technology meets your needs in a live environment and your costs grow with your actual usage.

Set up fees: Many vendors charge a set up fee for pay-per-seat pricing (usually ranging from $1,000 - $4,000). Amortized over the first year of the service, these fees increase the monthly pay-per-seat cost. These fees can be negotiated particularly if you are purchasing a large number of seats. Very few pay-per-use plans require a set-up fee.

Overage charges: In a pay-per-seat model, when the number of concurrent users exceeds the number of seats licenses you purchased, your vendors will apply an overage charge. For example, if you have a five-seat license and conduct a Web meeting with 10 users, you will have to pay for those extra five attendees. These charges are typically charged by a fraction of an hour and can cost as high as $15 per quarter hour. Pay-per-use plans let you include as many attendees as you want at the same per minute price.

Use the following table to determine which solution is best for your needs:

Usage Pattern Favorable Solution
Per Minute Per Seat
Using Web conferencing for the first time X
Number of concurrent attendees will remain the same at any given time X
Number of concurrent attendees may vary at any given time X
Usage level will be consistent during each month X X
Usage level will change from month-to-month X
Avoid contracts X

2. Make sure it’s easy to use: Most vendor brochures list the same set of features and functionality. The real difference between solutions comes down to how well it functionally works, reliability and usability. Ask to demo the service as both a participant and meeting host. In each scenario, test each of the features to see how well they work and how easy they are to use. Ask the vendor if free trials are available.

3. Get the features you need: Some Web conferencing solutions only support online presentations, while others offer full-featured packages that include polling, chatting, application-sharing, white boarding and group Web surfing. Do you seek the ability to record archive the event for playback? Can you transfer files within the meeting? Make sure the product meets your needs.

4. Customer support levels: Determine the customer support level that you require and find out if there are any additional costs involved. There are two types of customer support that you will most likely need:

a) Real-time technical support: Attendees will inevitably need help from time-to-time joining your meeting. And, if you’re presenting to clients and prospects, who need help joining your conference, you cannot afford to get voice mail when contacting technical support. Make sure your vendor has live support available, at least during business hours, without waiting on hold a long time. Call each vendors customer service number and see if you get a live person vs. a menu or voice mail.

b) Pre-conference training and consultation: Is training and meeting planning support available? Is there an extra fee? Is there a telephone number available so that you can contact a support person or is only e-mail support offered?

5. Consider security requirements: Depending on the audience and the information being shared, security might be a concern. Most solutions are secure enough and do not store meeting data any place except on the presenter’s PC. Participants only see a graphical representation of the data through a standard Web browser. Some services provide passcode authorization, SSL encryption, and the ability to lock and unlock the meeting.

6. Make sure the service works with corporate firewalls: If you are meeting or presenting to individuals at business locations, make sure the service can tunnel through multiple Internet ports in the event a primary port is blocked by a firewall.

7. Cross platform support: Find out what the system requirements are. Does the solution support multiple operating platforms including; Microsoft Windows (95, 98, ME, NT, 2000, XP), MAC (which versions?), Linux, Solaris?

Pay-per-use pricing is the better conservative choice for most companies learning how to leverage Web conferencing for their business. You avoid set up fees and you don’t have monitor the number of concurrent users in order to avoid overage charges. You can always start with a pay-per-use plan and switch to a pay-per-seat plan once there is a clear, long-term financial advantage.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Communiqué Conferencing Expands Global Reach

McLean, VA - February 24, 2005 - Communiqué Conferencing, a premiere provider of audio and Web conferencing services, today launched two new services enabling participants to access Communiqué audio conferencing from 35 countries. Local access numbers, available in three countries, allow attendees to participate in conference calls using a local telephone number, without incurring international toll charges. In addition, Communiqué has established International Toll-Free Access numbers (ITF) in 35 countries. ITF access numbers allow attendees to dial a country specific toll-free number to join your conference at no cost to them.

LocalAccess and International Toll-free Access complements our existing direct dial and dial out service already available from over 238 countries worldwide", said Daniel Miller, Communiqué Conferencing Vice President of Technology."
“The benefit of local and toll-free access numbers for international conference calls extends far beyond simple economics. For global organizations looking to create a genuine local presence, LocalAccess provides a seamless way for them to assume international call costs, which can represent a major barrier to participation. We are increasingly seeing Communiqué Audio and Web Conferencing services used as a means to reach out to partners, customers and prospects for which international access is absolutely essential,” said Miller.

For the conference organizer, LocalAccess and ITF access is completely integrated with Communiqué Conferencing's audio pricing plans. Customers are simply charged a flat fee per minute, per user, for Web or audio conferencing services with no subscription fees, minimum usage levels or seat licenses.

“The new international access options will make conferencing more accessible to a range of users, such as those working from home or traveling, who would previously be subject to international call charges. In addition, it will also reduce the cost and increase the return on investment associated with e-learning programs, on-line training, and Webinars,” added Miller. Communiqué Conferencing LocalAccess is available in the following countries: UK (London), France (Paris), and Germany (Frankfurt).

About Communiqué Conferencing Communiqué Conferencing, Inc. provides premium audio and Web conferencing services to organizations worldwide, ranging from small businesses to Fortune 100 companies. Headquartered in McLean, VA, Communiqué offers best-of-breed audio and Web conferencing technology that is fully integrated, easy-to-use and supported by world-class customer service available 24x7. For more information visit
www.communiqueconferencing.com or call 1-866-332-2255.

Friday, October 10, 2003

What is a Webinar?
Webinar is short for Web-based seminar. Webinar's are just like a conference room based seminar, however, participants view the presentation through their Web-browser and listen to the audio through their telephone. A key feature of a Webinar is its interactive elements -- the ability to give, receive and discuss information. Contrast with "Webcast", in which the data transmission is one way and does not allow interaction between the presenter and the audience.

What are Webinars Used For?
Webinar's are primarily used to train a large number of people or build brand and generate sales leads. Additional uses are: corporate announcements, focus groups, and press conferences.

What are the Benefits?

- Reach a larger audience
- Reduce cost
- Digitally record and allow future playback

What do I need to attend?

- A computer
- Internet access
- A phone line for listening to the teleconference portion

Conducting a Webinar white paper