If you run an online website, small business, or other operation where your have customers, clients, users or business partners, there are a lot of reasons for needing to get together where you require some connectivity or conferencing abilities. Getting together is person is great if that is convenient and cost effective, but as more businesses move toward doing business on regional, country-wide, or even global scale this become for of a challenge. Fortunately, interactive web conferencing has really come of age in recent years and is a great way to stay in touch with your employees, subscribers or members of your website, or even show off new ideas in front of a live internet audience.

With all of the implied technology involved, a lot of people and businesses are rightfully hesitant at the thought of having to setup new software, and learn new programs and devices, but the fact of the matter is that these programs are very self explanatory, and if you can operate a mouse and keyboard, you are well on your way to setting up your first web conferencing session. Some of the larger systems may involve certain hardware setup and configuration, but as long as you know your way around a computer and a network cable you should be fine setting even these bigger interactive conferencing systems up. If nothing else, a technical expert can be hired for an hour or two, but this would really be an extreme case. Many of the companies that offer interactive web conferencing products also provide some really good tutorial videos on setting up, configuration, and establishing and holding a conferencing session.

There are a lot of web conferencing tools on the market these days, and making the decision on which one to select is going to be based upon a few key factors. You are going to want to think about what you need from the software before you plan to make your purchase, to ensure that you aren't getting a corporate package, or one loaded down with features that you aren't going to use. Most home offices and small businesses will be able to save a lot of money by purchasing a software package that only has a few features, over one that has more scalability, and the option of allowing hundreds of users on the conferences. As long as you know what you need up front, like the relative size of the conferences you will be holding will be, you are going to be able to save yourself both time and money when it comes time to purchase a web conferencing system.

There are two major types of products available. First, there are the free web conferencing tools which are starting to get used quite widely even by non-business entities that never saw a need for interactive web conferencing before. The free tools, while helping you save the most money, often come with only a few features. They are also all limited in the number of participants that can join a conference, usually two to four participants. If a free conferencing solution is what you are looking for, you will likely end up installing and trying a few of these services until you find one that fits your needs and works in a way that you are comfortable with. They all have their strengths and their quirks. You will want to take a look at a few reviews for each of the products, as well as the website of the company that makes each product for screenshots and a demonstration of how the software is used. By seeing the demonstration of the product, you are going to be able to get a firm grasp of how it functions, and whether or not it will be able to complete the tasks that you want it to. I must say that the widespread use of video on the net in recent years has really improved the way that companies can teach how to use their products. Personally, I learn much faster from a video than I do trying to read a tutorial.

Premium interactive web conferencing services are the logical step up from the free services and these interactive conferencing services come in many different shapes and sizes for small to very large needs. One of the first and most basic advantages of a premium web conferencing service is reliability. If you are not paying for something you can't expect the reliability to be perfect. At least you have no recourse if something does not work. If, on the other hand, you are paying for a service, you have an expectation that it will work when you need it to.

Most of the premium services also come packed with features to help justify the usually hefty price tags. These types of programs are usually available on a monthly fee, and because of this, the developers have more time and money to spend to increase the functionality and usefulness of the web conferencing service. For the lower priced premium services, features such as in-session interaction between participants (messages, side sessions), desktop video integration into conferencing sessions, wide-scale webinars are fairly standard features generally limited only by the software package and infrastructure in place at the host.

With the higher priced premium services come features like online teaching and course presentation, webcasts, remote technical support, online sales presentations and demonstrations, and more. These kinds of features generally require a more robust hardware and networking infrastructure and therefore are generally only going to work at larger companies and organizations that have larger investments in these types of resources.

As you can see, regardless of whether you are trying to connect with family and friends, holding meetings with other small business owners, or trying to settle major corporate business deals around the world, interactive web conferencing is a great way to stay in touch even if you cannot have everyone together in person. Many companies are actually pushing employees to do less face to face meeting with customers, clients, and coworkers in favor of using a web conferencing tool. You no longer have to arrange sit down meetings with people, as the internet has completely freed you from in house meetings. It is definitely becoming a choice instead of a necessity.