Creating a web-based seminar is easy when you use a service like Cisco WebEx. This TopTenREVIEWS Bronze Award winning online service offers a variety of helpful tools to help you present products or conduct training. While it doesn't have as many features as some competitors' services do, it is still an easy-to-use application that will help any presenter make a good impression. Because of its various presenting options and simple interface, we rated WebEx among the best webinar services available.
Broadcasting seminars over the web enables your company to spend less money on travel while reaching a greater number of people. Webinars are less interactive than web conferences are, but a good online seminar still needs audience participation. Allowing attendees to participate in the presentation will help keep their attention. WebEx does an excellent job of allowing participants to interact with each other while giving the majority of control to the host.
Creating a meeting with this service can be as simple as clicking a button. WebEx offers a One-click Meeting option where you can jump right into presenting your material. If you wish to give a little more notice, you can also schedule meetings in advance and send out invitations. You can send your invitations through email, by phone or even by text message. Invitations include a unique URL that invitees can use to join your meeting.
The host can specify a meeting password to ensure that only invited guests can attend. Each participant needs to register with his or her name and email. After the attendees have registered to attend your online presentation, they will receive periodic reminders about the upcoming event.
Once your webinar begins, you have the option to present a document, share an application or share your desktop. These three options are clearly presented in the main window.
Real-time screen sharing is often used during online seminars and sales presentations, and you have this option with Cisco. While sharing your screen, you can direct your attendees to a particular website, including one that streams video, or show them a PowerPoint presentation. This service also allows for file transferring.
During the web seminar, you can pass the controls over to any participant. Handing the controls over to someone else will help keep your guests' attention. There are also polling and whiteboard options that enable you to obtain feedback while you are presenting. These tools will help create a more interactive presentation that engages and impresses your audience.
Cisco WebEx allows the creator of a webinar meeting to record the session and rebroadcast it later. Unlike some other webinar services, this one also allows you to send a transcript of the chat conversation to the attendees. However, there is no option for participants to offer feedback about the presentation once it's over. This means that presenters need to rely on feedback given during the online seminar.
If you are worried about security, this service comes with 128-bit SSL (Secure Socket Layer protocol) and 256-bit AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) encryption. The company does not store any of your session on its servers. You can present your ideas without the fear of having them stolen or used without your consent.
WebEx requires Java, so make sure you enable it on your computer. The host's computer also requires three other plugins. To create or participate in a webinar, you also need to download and install the WebEx application. This will only be required the first time that you join or start a presentation, but it can be troublesome and time consuming, so we highly suggest checking your programs and settings before a web event. We recommend asking your guests to do the same so that they don't miss any of your valuable content.
WebEx's pricing is customized based on your needs. You can customize your webinar plan based on minutes, attendee size or named host. The plan we used to test this service is a monthly plan that allows for 100 participants.
Cisco is upgrading its web services constantly – always trying to make a product that will get your message out quickly and clearly. One of its best additions recently is a mobile application that lets your attendees view your webinar on Android OS smartphones and tablets. We see this capability as the wave of the future for digital business communication solutions.
The audio features of Cisco WebEx are quite impressive. The company offers free audio broadcast and VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) with its webinar services. This variety of audio options gives you the ability to communicate directly with your guests, no matter how they're connected. This service also has full duplex support so that multiple users can speak at once.
WebEx recently added embedded video sharing to its webinar services module. The service supports webcams as well.
Cisco WebEx is fairly easy to use. Creating and scheduling a web seminar is a straightforward process. When sharing your desktop, a small information bar appears in the lower, right-hand corner of the screen to let you know it is working. This bar has a series of icons that let you chat, annotate, pause screen sharing, share files and start or stop recording.
When presenting a file or application, the annotation feature lets the host circle, underline or otherwise mark the areas he or she wants to bring to the attendees' attention. These kinds of features create a simple and easy way to present your information. WebEx is one of the easiest webinar services to use, but the multiple plugins it requires add several steps to the conference process.
We also had trouble with the webcam services. You have to go through two dialogue boxes in different places to begin broadcasting. We got the feature working, but it took several minutes and multiple consultations of the help material.
Cisco WebEx offers the standard email and telephone support and FAQs page found with most webinar services. The company also offers a free series of demo videos, tutorials, online training courses, live demos and solution articles. Its website's WebEx University section will help you research which of its services are best for you, set up your account, create online seminars and troubleshoot any issues you may have during your presentations.
If you run into any problems during your webinar, you can remain confident knowing that this service features remote IT support. The live chat feature, however, is a bit unsatisfying. The process is quite sluggish. The customer service representative we spoke with took a long time to respond to our questions, and the answers were, at times, confusing. We had to ask the same question a number of times before we received a clear answer.
The simple interface of this online application will allow almost any user to create interesting and informative web presentations that will engage the participants. While the live chat and video features aren't as good as they could be, Cisco WebEx is still one of the best webinar services we reviewed.
Cisco WebEx Meetings is a full-fledged webinar service that offers good tools for presenters and participants alike.
Cisco's webcam feature is hard to use and software downloads are required of all meeting attendees.
Use Cisco WebEx for almost any webinar services you can imagine, and do it all quickly and easily.