Online Seminar Software
Questions To Ask When Evaluating Online Software Solutions
With many webinar software options out there, you
really need to boil down your needs in order to choose what solution makes the most sense. Here are some key questions to ask yourself when shopping for an online conferencing solution.
What is the nature of my event?
The objective and type of your event will really help determine your webinar software
needs. If you are conducting a training event for small group of internal staff located in different branch offices, then you should be able to get by with a lower cost more basic online seminar solution. If you are hosting an event to generate new sales leads and have a high-profile guest speaker, then you will need a more scalable solution. You may also want to consider marketing features such as email reminders, flash demos and even survey software built in to help you evaluate response to your content during and after your event.
How much bandwidth do I need?
To figure out how much bandwidth you may need, you really just need to determine your maximum number of expected participants, and also how often your online meetings will be held. Also think about if you will be running basic PowerPoint presentations, or if you want streamlined video conferencing integrated into your webinars. Flash animations take up more bandwidth than PowerPoint presentations, and usually much less than live video.
Do I need my meeting saved?
Consider if you want to archive your meeting content for review to debrief or document key discussion areas. If this is the case, you can take advantage of options to make a Flash presentation out of your meeting, or even produce a transcript automatically from voices recorded.
What are my webinar software options?
Although there are many options, WebEx, who has an estimated 60% of the online seminar software market as of November 2005, is currently the dominant player. They provide custom tailored solutions based on the type of meeting that you are running and are well experienced in running large online events. In the middle of the pack is Microsoft's Live Meeting, which can handle higher bandwidth needs of well over 200 users per meeting (in fact, Live Meeting actually caps you at 2,000!). Lower end and more affordable webinar software such as GoToMeeting.com (owned by enterprise server company Citrix and makers of popular GoToMyPC.com, formerly owned by smaller niche player ExpertCity), can do a nice job of sharing a PowerPoint presentation for up to a maximum of 200 users, or allowing the presenter to surf and share web pages while talking to the group via a traditional phone conference call.
What's it going to cost me?
Higher end solutions such as WebEx start at $75 per month per host with a 5 host minimum, but include many customized features depending on your needs, such as training, event, IT support or sales meeting online conferences. GoToMeeting has a package for 10 users per meeting for an unlimited amount of time priced at just under $50 US per month. Microsoft's Live Meeting provides meetings with up to 5 seats per meeting at $375 per month, and they also have a pay-per-use option at $0.35 per user per minute.
Related article: 10 Tips On Hosting A Successful Webinar
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