Many people ask us about the differences between web conferencing and video conferencing. This article aims to clear up any confusion and help you decide on the best fit for your business.
All forms of web and video conferencing involve both an audio and visual connection. The type that is best for you will depend on the purpose of your meeting and the resources you have available. Below we describe the main types of web and video conferencing collaboration tools.
Video conferencing allows high-quality visual communication via a high-definition audio and video connection or link between two or more participants. Facilitated via a video conferencing bridge and specialised video conferencing equipment including large display (TV screen) , video camera and video conference endpoint (a special video conferencing ‘phone’ used for dialling in to a video conference via a video conferencing bridge) this type of communication tool operates best when it complies with international, industry-standard video protocols IP (SIP/H.323). This kind of set up is an investment, but if your business plans to use video conferencing on a regular basis and requires secure, high quality, high-definition audio and video connectivity, it can be significantly less expensive than meeting related travel costs – especially if these include overseas travel – over the long term. This type of visual communication tool is not mobile itself and cannot be easily relocated from room-to-room, however, with recent improvements in unified communications technology (and depending on the capability of your chosen provider), users can connect via their internet browser using WebRTC technology.
Participants simply dial in to the video conference with an IP address to see each other face-to-face. The host (and participants) can also share their screen by connecting their laptop computer to the system.
A live video stream over a secure network, allows speakers to communicate with each other in a way that most resembles a traditional face-to-face meeting environment because of the high definition sound and video quality, but with the ease and convenience of online conferencing with the added privacy of in-built security encryption. Video conferencing is most useful for important meetings where reliability and quality are non-negotiable such as board meetings, company announcements, and team meetings where it is critical for participants to see each other, present and collaborate reliably and efficiently.
Web conferencing is actually a blanket term for several ways to meet, present or collaborate online, including webcasts and webinars. The term web conferencing is also used interchangeably with video conferencing due to the ability to ‘see’ other participants via live video stream. Crucially though, an important distinction between the two is the quality and security of the live video stream and the difference in the equipment required. Web conferencing is facilitated online over public internet and affords multiple participants the ability to connect and work together visually using their laptops or mobile devices. Usually facilitated by a platform or cloud-based application and accessible by either downloading the application to your desktop (for interactive meetings such as webinars) or, via a URL in your web browser for webcasts or meetings where participants are required only to watch and listen to a presenter.
Web conferencing is less expensive and more accessible than true high-definition (HD), high-end video conferencing (however, video conferencing technology is getting cheaper and more accessible to more businesses). Despite its lower video and audio quality compared to HD video conferencing, web conferencing has earned its rightful place as a very effective business communication tool for everyday meetings allowing users to share screens and documents on-demand and enabling businesses to reduce their business-related travel costs.
Here are a couple of different ways you can use web conferencing in your business:
A webcast is a type of web conferencing that involves a one-way transmission and is non-interactive. The host presents information via an audio and/or video stream over the internet and may use screen sharing to present visual aids like power point presentations or slide packs, and videos or documents. Each participant connects to the host's webcast via a link provided by the host using their desktop computer, laptop or mobile device.
Webcasts are a great way present information to a large audience of online participants. They are useful for holding training sessions, sales or product demonstrations and providing commentaries or announcements on company performance. A webcast transmission is usually given live but can also be recorded and offered to audiences to watch on-demand.
Short for 'web-based seminar', a webinar is a type of web conference that allows for collaboration and interaction between a presenter or host and their audience. Webinars enable the host to give an interactive presentation, where two-way communication is possible between all participants via live chat, whiteboard or other embedded features.
Polls and surveys, Q&A sessions and content-sharing features also facilitate communication between large groups. It is possible to stream audio and share videos, documents and applications with other participants during the webinar.
Webinars are incredibly flexible and useful tools for presenting and collaborating on information and projects. You can work on projects in real time without teams having to be present in the same physical location.
Which conferencing option is right for you?
It is important to understand that there is no single best web or video conferencing solution – or a one size fits all. Consider the goals and structure of your meetings and choose the option and conference provider that will help you to hold a high-quality and effective conference.
- If you want to hold a non-interactive presentation in which you will be the sole speaker, to a large audience, a webcast is the best option.
- If you need to collaborate on a project or document, and interact with your audience, then a webinar will work better.
- If audio and video quality and security are on the top of your list and you have the means to invest in a trusted conferencing company and the specialised equipment needed, then video conferencing will be the right choice for your business.
What are the advantages of video conferencing and web conferencing?
The focus on reducing business expenses is ever present. Any type of web or video conferencing is a great solution that allows you to continue to connect and work with people in different locations, even if you’re not in the same room.
There are many advantages of using web or video conferencing. Here we break down the top three.
- Cost-effective: Everyone has a desktop, laptop or mobile device and while investment in video conferencing equipment may be expensive, in the long term, video or web conferencing will save your business money as it significantly reduces travel costs.
- Streamlines communication: In a modern workplace, employees can be working remotely across the globe and are no longer confined to working in the same physical location. A video conference, or webinar will ensure remote workers feel like part of the team and ensure communication is clear.
- Increases productivity: Staff training and meetings can be made much more efficient with online video conferencing and webcasts, as they can be attended by all employees, not matter their location, improving communication between employees and departments. This allows meetings to be faster and more decision-focused, enhancing engagement and allowing employees to .get the work done.
How can a business best use video and web conferencing tools?
With the help of the right provider, on boarding video or web conferencing can be seamless and stress free. Use either web or video conferencing to connect with remote workers, or teams across multiple sites or locations, talk to customers and suppliers face-to-face, run training sessions, launch products and services, make presentations to senior managers, or present and demo your products and services to prospects, or ask your provider to help with a web or video conference event with a managed Q&A session.
Use cases for web conferencing or video conferencing is unlimited and can really transform the way you connect, communicate and collaborate.