Issue #166 August 19, 2008

PowerPoint Tip: What to look for in a web presentation service

Next month I am presenting at PowerPoint Live on how to design and deliver a web based presentation and the differences from a presentation where the audience is in the room. I was looking back at the webinar I did for SpeakerNetNews that covered some of these topics and one area I am not going to cover at PowerPoint Live is the area of selecting a web presentation service. So I'm going to share some of my thoughts on that topic today. The objective today is not to convince you to lean towards one particular service or another. It is to give you some criteria to consider when you have to make that decision. With the cost of travel by any means increasing rapidly, we will all be doing web- based presentations in the future. If you are already using a web conference service, this may help you evaluate if you are getting the best value from who you currently use. Criteria #1 - Cost Structure There seem to be two cost approaches that are most popular. The first is a fixed fee per month that allows you to hold any number of meetings with a certain maximum number of people. The other approach is to charge per attendee per minute that they are connected. Consider how often you will likely be holding meetings and do the math to determine which approach would be best. And go back to check every 6 months or so to make sure the approach you selected is still the best for your actual usage. Criteria #2 - Audio Options Some services deliver the audio portion of the conference over the web and the participants hear it through the speakers on their computer and some use a regular telephone bridge line for the audio. I prefer the telephone bridge approach as I have found it more stable, but check to see what limitations there may be on the audio line that the service includes. Sometimes using a separate phone bridge will give you the options you need, like being able to selectively mute all or individual participants, the ability to record the audio portion of the meeting and the ability to have multiple presenters speak while everyone else is muted. Criteria #3 - System requirements Most of the services operate by having the participants download a small browser-based application that enables you to share your screen with them to show a presentation, web site, document, etc. Check whether the service you are considering will support the systems of the people who will attend the meeting. Check for Mac support, which browsers are supported, what versions of Windows are supported and whether corporate computers that have restrictions on what can be downloaded will be able to connect. Some of your participants may have old computers and their operating system may not be supported (I've had this happen to me). If you'd like to see my entire presentation at PowerPoint Live and learn from the top designers and experts in PowerPoint, register to attend the conference September 21-24 in San Diego, CA. Full details are at http://www.PowerPointLive.com .