Web Conferencing 201

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This is the 2nd part of the web conferencing post, web conferencing 101.

Audio In Web Conferencing

A little known secret and often overlooked involves audio tied to recording.  If the presenter is using VOIP, then audio is recorded during the presentation, because the audio is coming through the computer’s speakers.

If the presenter is using a telephone, 98% of systems will not pick up the recording of the audio from a phone.

Most systems do not record the audio from attendees, even if they are using VOIP, but some do. If you do not want this in a recording feature, consider turning off this feature (some systems offer it) or mute the audience members, until it is time to ask questions and have them respond.  Even in that case, again, some systems have an option that it is not recorded.

Make sure that when presenting, that you have a mute option for all attendees or that the attendees can mute themselves – whether it be using VOIP or via the phone, because there will be times that you pick up what I call bonus noises – dogs barking, kids, other voices – especially as more people work from home or every once in awhile they are listening via their cell phone – in the car.

Audio bridges

Avoid this like the plague. I recall one system that enabled attendees to be recorded via a phone, but it was separate then the presentation.  So, people could download the audio version – off you and your attendees, but in order to do this, you had to be on the phone too – and not using VOIP.

Which often occurs, because at many companies, the person presenting does not have the capability to use VOIP.

Thus the way, the presenter can be recorded must be done with an audio bridge.

Here is how it works:

  • You purchase the bridge – which enables the audio from the phone to go into the computer
  • The bridge has to be installed and integrated into the computer – web conferencing vendors should and some do, recommend that the bridge setup is handled by IT/IS personnel
  • If you want to record the attendees and they are not using VOIP, then they too need an audio bridge
  • The bridges are not cheap

If you use a telephone, regardless if it is on speaker or not, and you want to record the presenter, then order one audio bridge and that’s it. Honestly, for most people who download and listen to the presentation, the really do not want to hear the attendees.

I know of vendors who offer the capability of editing the audio, before it is posted, regardless if they are using VOIP or not. It is nice feature, but as aforementioned, is not universal in the industry.

Transcript Time

People post questions or comment within the text chat box. Someone responds via text as well.  When recording everything on the computer becomes part of the presentation, so the text comes too.  But what happens if you do not want to post that due to off base comments or whatever, what can you do?

Again, there are some systems out there that enable you to edit the transcript before you post the presentation, others enable you to delete it outright.  Regardless, it does not pickup the “hand raising”.

Private Chats

This can be turned off, and I recommend it. What occurs when it is active, is that attendees can communicate with one another via selecting that person and texting them privately. Thus, they are distracted. In many cases, they are discussing things that have nothing to do with the presentation.  While it sounds cool to enable them to do that, it really isn’t.

Some systems enable the presenter or whomever else is helping the presenter, see the private text messages. What is of interest, is that most attendees have no idea that is happening. Thus, if you do not turn off that option, be aware as an attendee your messages are not truly private.

Are you Listening?

Reality time. Just like a face to face seminar, people are distracted.  Whether or not they mute, people often try to multi-task. They read their email, they do their work, or open a separate window and surf the net.  So, why do they attend the webinar?

It may be required by their employer. Always be aware that there are some people who just do not listen, and that is okay. Now, some people log into the conference, are there for a few minutes and then log out.  They assume that no one is seeing that or is aware it is happening. They are often wrong.

There are systems that can report everything,, including if X person leaves the presentation before it is done.

The report can be viewed by the presenter or whoever is reviewing the data, after the event.

Not every system offers this feature, so if you want to know if Susan stayed on the call the whole time, now you can, but in order to do this, they need to have a user name to log into the system. I have seen systems that track by IP address, but in the web conf. aspect, that is completely worthless, unless the people who are attending are within one IP address and that is at your company or business.

Even then, IT would have to get involved to try to figure out who that is, and at that point is it really worth the headache?

Sending out Invites, Notifications and Follow Up within the system

You want this.

  • The administrator creates the email or uses a template that already exists in the system, inputs the email adressess of the people you want to attend, and sends out the invitation
  • The attendee responds to the invite and signs up
  • The attendee then receives verification that they signed up
  • If the attendee does not sign up within a certain time frame, a follow-up email is sent
  • When it gets close to the webinar, the system sends out a reminder to the attendee – for most systems you set the date (24/48/72 hrs) for the reminder, but some systems do not allow the admin to specify the number of days ahead of time, and sends out the reminder, 24 hrs ahead of time

There are some web conf vendors that enable the capability, that when the attendee registers, they can select Outlook or Gmail and have the event auto scheduled. If your system offers it, take advantage of it, because people often forget.

Very cool features

With the increase by end users using social media and mobile devices, web conferencing vendors are finding ways to add these capabilities within their systems.

  • Ability to send out event information via Twitter and Facebook
  • Reminders sent via Twitter

The downside to this, is if your company blocks social media, then this feature is completely worthless, especially if you are sending out this information during the day.

  • iPad apps or Android apps that you can download and use with your smartphone and tablet. As of last week, only 6 vendors offered the iPad app capability and 8 for the iPhone.  Frankly, every vendor should offer this, and consider adding RIM apps and Windows 8 apps (when that OS) is released

Branding and Reselling

  • You want branding with your logo and colors. It is rare to find a vendor who not offer this as part of your package. However, there are some web conferencing vendors who have their logo on it as well, and charge you extra to remove it
  • What if you purchase seats, but then decided to resell them? A couple of vendors offer this option, but it is only beneficial if you have distributors/wholesalers/sales agents – i.e. a mutli-tenet program or extended enterprise

Way it works

  • You purchase the seats, just as you would anyway, and then resell them within your multi-tenet
  • The children (of the multi-tenet) can resell them too
  • Let’s say you purchase 100 seats, and only plan to use 50, so you resell the other 50 to your child, who uses 25 of those seats, they resell them to another child and so on. You cannot exceed the number of seats you purchased, unless you decide to buy more seats

One vendor who offers this is MegaMeeting, but it is expensive. You set your price for the seats after you buy them. This is not a resell, where you can resell them to the general public, it is within your extended enterprise or multi-tenet.

Web Conferencing and LMSs

The integration approach whereas your LMS vendor already has into place a commercial web conferencing vendor is over 9 years old.

But it can be very confusing to the LMS customer, because they often assume that with their purchase of the system, the commercial web conferencing solution is free. It isn’t.

  • You have to pay a separate license to use their product
  • Most LMS vendors will act as the intermediary, so you do not have to contact the web conferencing vendor themselves
  • The LMS vendor and the web conferencing vendor have formed a business partnership, that is why that specific web conferencing vendor is in place. It is a dual revenue stream for both vendors. 
  • The spin benefit the LMS vendor will pitch to you, is that the data can be tracked and reported within the LMS, but they fail to often to tell you what specific data – thus always ask
  • You do not have to use the web conferencing tool that is integrated into the LMS, you can use anyone you want
  • The plus side – is you can use a free web conferencing vendor that exists out there, the downside is that the great majority of LMS vendors cannot track any of the data – HOWEVER
  • There are a few vendors who can track some data with your other web conferencing vendor that is placed into the system
  • To use your own web conferencing vendor, the end user simply clicks a Link that is setup in the LMS and a new window opens to your web conferencing vendor, most end users have no idea that they have been sent outside the LMS
  • There are sadly, some vendors who charge for the non-integrated vendor, but most do not – that said, unless you inquire about using a 3rd party web conferencing vendor, they do not tell you (it is a secret in the industry)

Another option that some LMS vendors are doing is creating their own web conferencing tool and putting into their system. It is part of your LMS and no extra cost.  Personally, every vendor should do this, but that just isn’t the case

Bottom Line

Selecting and utilizing a web conferencing vendor should be a simple process, but it rarely is.

Knowing what to ask and what to look for, now gives you the upper hand.

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