You may be asking yourself, "Why should I host a Web conference?" There are plenty of reasons for hosting Web conferences, starting with improved real-time communication, increased efficiency and reduced costs.
Web conferencing is still young. Only 30 percent of companies surveyed by Wainhouse Research have any type of teleworking initiatives, with Web conferencing the most common. But companies are realizing its potential.
For example, Desire2Learn Inc., a developer of Web-based learning systems in Ontario, turned to Web conferencing to reduce the cost of pre-qualifying sales leads among U.S. schools and colleges. Flying a salesperson to the West Coast could take two days and cost $800 -- for a one-hour meeting that could end without a sale [source: Small Business Computing].
Instead of flying out, sales reps now host a Web conference first with a prospective customer. The sales rep can show a PowerPoint slide presentation, give an interactive demonstration of the software and give customers remote access to a computer to try the product themselves.
Let's look at several other examples to show how Web conferencing can work effectively:
- For security, collaboration and visuals -- Tenix, an Australian technology company and defense contractor, uses Web conferencing for online project team meetings between its Melbourne head office and engineers in the field. The team can meet securely to discuss sensitive documents. They also can view and revise complex technical drawings and plans [source: Premiere Global].
- To include absentee shareholders -- Richardson Electronics, a manufacturer of radio frequency and microwave devices, combines its annual meeting of shareholders with a live, interactive Web conference for those who can't attend in person. Online participants provide their names, plus a meeting identification and key code to enter the meeting [source: Richardson Electronics].
- To get input from an entire region simultaneously -- The planning commission for southwestern Pennsylvania held a regional town meeting Web conference to discuss and get feedback from all parts of the region on a long-range plan for the area. Web participants heard proposals, viewed maps and plans, and offered their feedback online [source: Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission].
- To provide training -- Vicon Publishing Inc., a publisher of trade publications for research laboratories, offers several one-hour Web conferences per month covering everything from lab safety to animal facility design. Attendees dial in on a conference phone line and log onto a private Web site. Each presentation with slides is followed by an interactive question-and-answer period [source: Vicon Publishing].
A Web conference also can be useful in giving consumers and shareholders information they need during a new product launch, during a product recall, or at a time when news about the company needs to be explained or clarified.
For all of its potential benefits, hosting a Web conference doesn't have to be difficult. Go to the next page to learn more about the technology required.