While some conference calling services also offer web conferencing, most allow you to connect to meetings via phone. Depending on your needs, a web conferencing service that allows remote attendees to join by phone could be a good fit. This gives you the flexibility to have web conferencing, which allows participants to see each other by video and participate with screen sharing and conference calling in one service.
Nearly all of the web conferencing services we reviewed allow participants to join meetings either online or by phone.
Related Services: Webinars
Webinars are an important business tool that allow companies to find new customers, educate current clients and strengthen their customer service. With a webinar service, it’s easy to create and share a PowerPoint presentation or conduct a live demonstration.
Attendees typically join a webinar or online meeting from a browser or mobile device without downloads or complicated codes. With many services, you can present from a mobile device.
Webinar software has three main feature categories: presenter tools, moderator options and webinar features. These focus primarily on the attendee experience, including security, integrations and needed downloads (if any) before they attend your webinar.
Integration with Outlook is a great convenience – you can invite, remind and schedule webinars straight from your email platform. Social media integration makes it easy to invite people at large, share webinars and have attendees promote for you. The best services also offer encryption and passwords for security.
With archiving, you can save recorded webinars and share links if you don’t want to transfer files to your own website, though most services allow you to download the recordings as well. Most webinar services have limited editing software, usually just for cutting out sections. With this limited editing ability, you can remove dead time and off-topic questions for a higher-quality final product.
When searching for webinar services, there are several features and tools to look for. These include:
- Monetization options: For businesses that use webinars for marketing and revenue, monetization features play an important role. Some services have lead-generation tools that go beyond simply asking questions during the registration or survey process. Also, some services, such as GoToWebinar, integrate with customer relationship management software so your sales representatives can follow up with attendees interested in your company or service. A logout redirect lets you send attendees to a URL of your choice after logout, such as a survey, a buy link or a webpage with more information about your product.
- Host management: Webinars are meant to be responsive to the audience, so it’s useful for presenters to see their planned slides before they post it for attendees to see. This allows presenters to adapt the presentation to the audience.
- Dial-in: All services have VoIP capability and webcam functionality, but being able to handle dial-ins as well is a plus. Making sure attendees can at least hear a presentation when they are not in front of their computer is definitely a plus.
- Screen sharing: Most every webinar service allows for screen sharing and loading of documents, such as PowerPoint slides, into a webinar “library” for use in the webcast itself. Some services let you share individual applications so you don’t reveal your entire computer screen to attendees. This feature not only makes sharing more convenient but also adds a layer of security to the webinar.
- Recording: A service that allows you to record the entire presentation is beneficial for sharing it with those who were unable to attend as well as for the host to review to see where changes can be made.
Other valuable features many webinar services offer include analytics and reporting, drawing tools, email automation, and the ability to take polls and surveys and conduct Q&As.
Among some of the more popular and reputable webinar services include Webex, Onstream, Webinato and ClickWebinar.
Related Services: Webcasting
Webcasting lets you live stream anything from company seminars to press conferences. Using webcasting software, you can increase brand recognition and promote your company to a wide audience.
Webcasting services have great recording and editing capabilities, and have become more mobile-friendly so that your listeners can view your material from any web-enabled device. This makes webcasting more on demand and user-friendly than webinar or web conferencing services that tend to be geared toward smaller and more defined audiences.
A successful webcast depends on the basics. Webcasts should be able to accommodate hundreds of attendees with the ability to expand to thousands if needed The fewer downloads needed, the easier it is for you, your presenters and your audience. Several services also have a phone-in feature for those who lack voice over internet protocol (VoIP) capability.
Webcasting offers much more versatility than webinars. Among some of the more valuable features webcasting services provide are:
- Live streaming: Webcasts take place live. Webcasting apps allow you to live stream your presentation in HD video to anyone around the world.
- Presenters: You can host a panel of speakers rather than a single lecturer; however, some limit the number of simultaneous video streams during a session.
- Desktop sharing: You can share your entire screen or just specific applications. This is helpful when making presentations. Many services let you upload video to enhance your presentation. Other services, such as ClickWebinar, provide in-webcast slide preview, a useful feature that lets you skip or move slides during the webcast without the audience noticing. This lets you adapt your presentation on the fly.
- Moderator tools: With webcasts that have hundreds or thousands of audience members, Q&A chats may become overwhelming for presenters and confusing to attendees. Moderator tools help you keep control of the chat while still receiving audience participation. The raise-hand feature makes it easy for the presenter to see who has a question. Muting or removing attendees can take care of troublemakers or those who simply don’t realize their background noise is affecting the webcast. Most webcasts rely on text-based Q&A, but a few have audio Q&A. Some services even provide operators who can serve as moderators for your webcast.
- Monetization: You can use webcasts for marketing and revenue (so monetization features can play an important role). Some services integrate with your PayPal account so you can conveniently receive payments. In addition, some webcasting software integrates with CRM software so that your sales representatives can easily follow up with attendees.
- Branding: The best webcasting platforms let you brand your webcast room so it reflects your company and services. You can also program a logout redirect to send attendees to a URL of your choice as they leave so you can lead them to a survey or a webpage with more information about your product, or even a by link.
Other valuable features include recording, analytics and reports, and administrator controls. In addition, some services also provide specialists who will help you plan and run the event.
Some of the more popular webcasting services include Webex, Onstream Media, Adobe Connect, Webinato, GoToWebinar, and GlobalMeet Webcast.