Online Conferencing

Written by Blaire Chandler-Wilcox
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Online conferencing is yet another step in the evolution of telecommunications. The simplest forums are chat rooms where individuals weigh-in, via the written word, in real-time. More complex options include simultaneous audio conferencing, with the online aspect acting as a delivery system for video, virtual tours, and sharing of online/desktop documents. The most complicated (and expensive) online conferences include simultaneous live video feeds, allowing attendees to be both seen and heard, and have shared access to online/desktop documents and video demonstrations.

Even the most complicated online conference is more affordable than a typical conference requiring travel. When expenses, including airfare, hotel, and expenses are tallied together, the sums can often total in the thousands. Comparatively speaking, online conferencing charges are a "drop in the bucket."

Further, online conferences are much easier for individuals to attend. Schedules can be organized with much greater flexibility. Anyone with access to a high-speed internet connection can take equal part. As a result, attendance rates are often higher for online conferences, and results and feedback much more broad-based.

Online Chat Room Conferences

For those interested simply in chat-room style conferences, be aware that there are drawbacks. One, responses are posted in chronological order, not topical order, which can make conversations appear chaotic. Secondly, while this type of forum encourages spontaneity and immediacy, it can be frustrating for individuals who are stronger verbally than via the written word. Additionally, chat room environments are not ideal for capturing emotional subtlety and nuance. However, for casual brainstorming among colleagues, chat room conferencing offers an affordable, effective solution to team members located in different parts of the world.

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