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What is Web Conferencing? Everything You Need to Know

Web conferencing may be a term you have heard of in recent months as the world has shifted towards remote communication formats. This article breaks it down.
March 9, 2021 • About 6 min. read

As remote working grows in popularity, more businesses are shifting to virtual operations. Web conferencing has quickly become ubiquitous in nearly every industry, from live events to education. Even if you’re familiar with video chatting, you might be curious about what a web conference is and how it differs from other forms of video communication, like video conferencing. Let’s break down the many ways a business or individual can utilize web conferencing to connect with clients, customers, or larger audiences.

What is a web conference?

While video conferencing usually refers to a conversation over video chat with a few participants, a web conference typically involves one host addressing many people or a few speakers addressing a large number of participants. These conferences or meetings are hosted online and streamed in real-time.

Types of web conferences

People host web conferences for a variety of reasons. For instance, a large company could hold meetings for several departments using web conferencing software. A professor might host web conferences to teach classes online, or a public speaker could hold a web conference to give a presentation for an international audience. Web conferences are generally centered around education or professional collaboration.

Why use web conferencing?

Web conferencing serves many useful purposes. Allowing people to communicate face-to-face from any location with WiFi has become an indispensable tool for businesses. The most common use-cases for web conferencing are remote work, team collaboration, and to scale operations.

Remote work

Companies with remote employees can bring workers together for meetings, train employees to use new software programs, or present important research completely online. Even colleagues who have never met in person can work on meaningful projects through web conferencing.

Team collaboration

Today, web conferencing is often essential for team collaboration across departments at the same company. From comparing research to putting together presentations, web conferencing provides a convenient way for departments to cooperate. The best web conferencing platforms have integrated collaborative applications Iike Miro whiteboards to make it easy to work together.

Scaling operations

Web conferencing allows companies to bring in more customers and clients without major budget increases. This is particularly appealing for companies growing beyond the startup phase but haven’t quite established themselves as large corporations. By holding conferences and meetings online, businesses can scale up and boost their revenue while saving money. Besides, hosting customer training with web conferencing software allows support teams to assist customers without incurring higher costs.

How does web conferencing work?

If you have never hosted a web conference before, you might be wondering what you’ll need to plan your event, which occasion would be appropriate, or how you can shift live events to a virtual program. Let’s explore how web conferencing software works and discuss several use cases for web conferencing.

Web conferencing software

To host a web conference, you’ll need to utilize web conferencing software. Before you start researching web conferencing software, consider what types of virtual meetings or events you’ll be hosting - you want to make sure that the software you choose is suitable for your specific use case.

Think about which communication and collaboration tools your attendees will need, as well as how many attendees you can reasonably expect. Browser-based web conferencing software will allow your attendees to join without downloading any programs themselves, which is usually the most convenient option, especially for larger web conferences. To collect data on your attendees and gauge your web conference’s success, you’ll need software that provides detailed analytics on participation rates.

Client meetings

Today, you don’t need to travel to meet with clients face-to-face. Instead, you can host a web conference to update clients on new business developments. The right software will allow you to present important information and research through spreadsheets, videos, or PowerPoint presentations by integrating applications like Google Suite tools. With an application like Miro, you can use digital whiteboards to host workshops with distributed teams - attention management features help keep everyone on the same page! Suppose you’re collaborating on graphic designs or product prototypes. In that case, Figma enables everyone to view and edit files together with cursor tracking, and with in-app commenting, you can give and receive immediate feedback.

Webinars

As the name suggests, a webinar is essentially a virtual seminar! During a webinar, the host engages with attendees through slides, videos, and other materials. Webinars can be adapted to give product demonstrations, teach classes, or lead employee onboarding sessions. The great thing about webinars is that they are highly adaptable to any use case. As you present, your attendees can send comments or questions with the chat function. You can also block off time after your presentation for a Q&A session.

Demos

Want to host product demonstrations for large audiences? Web conferencing is the perfect solution. Sales teams can host web conferences to present products to potential new leads. With web conferencing software that allows for screen sharing, it’s easy to share live demonstrations that show attendees exactly how to use a particular product. Attendees can get answers to their specific questions directly from the hosts using messaging tools like the chat or question functions. Live product demos can also be recorded and shared online so that people can watch them at any time.

Education and training

Web conferencing opens up countless possibilities for educational events and courses. A company can use web conferencing for virtual employee onboarding programs and remote team-building exercises for new hires. Using quizzes to test your employees’ knowledge helps you determine what kind of support they might need to transition into their new roles. You can also record these programs so that employees can go over the material on their own time later.

Also, web conferencing enables you to host live customer training sessions online. This approach to customer training can boost your trial to conversion rate and proactively help customers solve issues they might encounter while using your product. Since customers can use the chat function to ask questions and get detailed answers from customer support, you can eliminate the need for troubleshooting later on. You can also utilize polls to conduct live user research and get feedback quickly.

Through web conferencing, instructors can teach courses online. Integrating a payment system will allow for easy tuition payments, and web conferencing software can automate registrations, reminders, and attendance taking. Instructors can share slides, videos, documents, and other educational materials, answer students’ questions, and even test their students’ comprehension by using polls to ask multiple-choice questions and conduct short quizzes.

Live events

Web conferencing can be an affordable alternative to hosting a live event. Rather than renting a space and covering travel costs, you can invite attendees to a virtual event instead. Web conferencing software can automate everything from confirmation emails to event reminders! Plus, unlike a physical venue, your live web conferencing room can scale with the number of attendees.

Web conferencing software will also give you access to analytics detailing how many registrants logged in and how much time they spent watching. This is invaluable data if you plan to host more live events with web conferencing software in the future.

Interviews

If you’d like to host a video podcast or panel discussion, web conferencing will allow you to stream your interview live and automatically record the video footage. You can host a one-to-one interview or choose web conferencing software that lets you invite multiple guests for a roundtable discussion. Question tabs and chat tools make it possible for attendees to ask questions, and you can set up pools to gauge their opinions on hot topics that come up during the interview.

As more companies begin hosting meetings, events, and conferences online, it’s essential to understand the ins and outs of web conferencing. Web conferencing can help you scale up, reduce business expenses, bring in new clients, and directly connect with customers, students, or other professionals in your industry. Whether you want to develop a new employee training program, teach an online course, or stream a live performance, the right web conferencing software can help you pull it off.

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