The biggest advantages of video conferencing are efficiency and cost. In a video conference, no one has to travel further than their computer screen. Participants can log in from anywhere, and all that is usually required is basic computer technology and some kind of video conferencing software. The cost savings are usually enormous. Not only are the costs of travel and lost time in transit conserved, but conference spaces do not have to be rented, reserved, or maintained.
As the Internet has become more ubiquitous, the use of video conferencing online has grown increasingly popular in the business world. Video conferencing allows corporations, organizations, and other trade groups to broadcast their conferences online in real time. This allows for much more robust participation, both from participants located remotely as well as those local participants who may not have time to leave their offices or travel across town.
Video conferencing's early days were marked by video components to otherwise real-life conferences. The advantages of this kind of video conferencing remain valid and are still in use today. Many major conferences are simulcast or webcast in streaming versions online, to allow remote participation. Participants watching these online video conferences can usually participate by e-mailing a moderator or through interactive chat features on the videoconferencing site.
The advantages of video conferencing have only been expanding with changing technology. While webcasts are still common ways of using video conferencing technology to integrate remote participants, the technology is also being used to link up exclusively remote participants. One of the prime advantages of video conferencing software today is the ability to host exclusively online meetings and conferences.
Video conferencing systems are not generally complex, and relatively little video conferencing equipment is needed to host a successful meeting online. All that is usually required is an Internet-ready computer, a web camera, and some form of video conferencing software. There are usually quite a number of software packages to choose from, from free web-based programs to more secure, password-protected applications. Some conferencing programs are capable of turning mobile phones into mobile offices, and most allow for access from anywhere that there is an Internet connection.
One of the key advantages of video conferencing is the ability to quickly gather people from a diversity of places and time zones. Most software programs create a virtual “meeting room” where participants can log in, activate their web cameras, and participate and interact with each other as if they were all in the same room. Video conferences can be designed as roundtable discussions or as presentations by one or more people. Most of the time, participants can visibly chat with each other through video and are not relegated to chat rooms or e-mail correspondence. Participants can also easily upload and download documents over the course of a video conference.
Another video conferencing advantage is the ready ability to archive proceedings. Most of the time, video conferences can be saved, backed up, and reviewed at a later time. This allows companies to have a record of all that was undertaken or decided at a meeting without having to designate one participant as the secretary or recorder.
More and more companies are choosing video conferences over traditional conferences, both as a way of saving money and as a means of boosting employee productivity. With this, more people are often able to participate, at little or no cost to anyone. While something is lost in the absence of true face-to-face encounters, for companies with offices in multiple cities or even multiple countries, the advantages of video conferencing are hard to beat.