Sunday, June 07, 2009

Get Yourself Promoted - Free Web Conference Tools

Ah, how I've dreamt of being elsewhere during some meetings. Admit it. You're guilty too. I know that hotel conference rooms are utilitarian in atmosphere; they get the job of being a venue done, without fancy-shmancy distractions. And the coffee shop might be sufficient as well - if you're okay with the bounty of distractions, and the risk of beverage spills on the teeny bistro table that shares your laptop.

Even the Oprah Show is using the newest video technology to maximize communication potential (see: google: oprah, skype. yeah, she digs it...a lot). Why shouldn't we get in on some of that and get out of those meetings?

...well, maybe not com
pletely out of it. But at least enjoy the comfort of your own home. I can think of at least two FREE options for your Web Conferencing convenience. And when your boss or clients hear your proposal to NOT meet in the boring banquet hall of Hotel Superchain Express, well...they should be impressed. (If I'm not mistaken, some one might save some money, too) Webinars are the latest and greatest social-networking device to hit the business world since LinkedIn.

Both are super-easy to use. Neither requires any installation (woohoo!) Both work with the Big 3 internet softwares (Internet Explorer, Mozilla, and Safari). All you need is a webcam, Like
Dimdim offers options to share your docs and websites during your conference, a "whiteboard" to have public or private chats (woah!). You can have up to 20 participants for free. Yes, you may record this meeting if you don't feel like taking minutes right then and there.

Cool Conference Live is really popular, too because of how easy it is to use. The ads are optional, meaning, if you want your webinar to be completely void of advertisement, there is a nominal fee. Very easy to use for everyone. Again, you can have private chats, or if someone doesn't
have a mic or webcam, they can use teleconferencing with a phone, and a photo. Also, the conference moderator is able to post/poll questions that can be responded to in real time during the conference. Results can be kept for moderator information or may be posted to the conference room.

Oh, yeah, that's right MeBeam takes the coolness of one/one Skype call and lets you have multi-person conferenceing.
e multi-person calls. Voip-SOL describes it best!


Yugma is quite similar in nature to GoToMeeting. It starts off with Free Edition (up to 20 users) where you can share your screen with up to 20 users. To get fancier with it and add more features, you have to start paying $$, starting at $14.95/month as of this writing. Unlike the other 3 mentioned here, each participant and the host will have to download a program. There is also a "Skype" plug in. Most unusual, this program also supports Linux in the stand alone version.

All four are different. They will require some experimentation with a small group of meet0-ees, before jumping off with the entire staff. Some people may still choose to have their computer in the cafe. But you will never have to risk your colleagues catching you warming up your Minesweeper techniques.

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