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Cisco WebEx offers a quick and simple service for hosting webinars, with a few extra control options that help to set it apart from some of its competitors. You can set up instant meetings or schedule larger events in advance by sending email, text or telephone invitations which include a unique URL to take your potential attendees directly to your event. Security measures also ensure that your webinar is encrypted and the system will only record your webinar on your request.
The user interface is pretty simple to use, with options such as sharing documents, applications or your desktop clearly displayed. Desktop sharing also allows sites which include video, as well as text and audio, allowing you to produce a multimedia presentation. Controls can also pass between speakers, meaning that you can have people working in the background so you don’t need to fiddle with controls whilst you’re speaking, or you can simply pass the virtual microphone to the next speaker once your part is over. WebEx Event Centre also allows users to create polls and make edits using a selection of whiteboard tools, which are great features for getting feedback from audience members and responding to their input.
Although attendees do not need to download software to attend your webinar, some elements do require the use of Java, so it’s a good idea to make sure that (at least) the host’s computer is up to date with the latest plug-ins. It’s best to make sure your guests have all the applicable apps and downloads, even if you don’t think they are needed, as it would be unfortunate to have limited capabilities during the webinar itself. Specialists can advise on the best course of action and make suggestions on how to get the best possible effects from the Events Centre.
There are some impressive audio features that are free to use with this product, allowing you to communicate publicly and privately, and also allowing attendees to gain access to the webinar through their browser or via a telephone. Whilst multiple people are able to speak at once, you can also control whether or not microphones are muted at key times. Video streaming is supported, although there is a maximum limit of 500 viewers when streaming live video, which could be improved upon.
The system is generally easy to use, although not necessarily the most visually pleasing interface around. That said, the basic functions are well laid out and don’t require a lot of practice to get the hang of. Annotations can also be made on files, for all to see, although they are also a little limited and don’t allow you to make actual changes to the documents in question (rather it’s like an overlay which you can write on). If you’re not entirely sure how to use the WebEx Event Centre then Cisco offer a decent support package, including email and telephone communication with a specialist. There are also demos and tutorials online, which are handy in guiding you through simple and more complex areas of the presentation tools.
Cisco WebEx Event Centre offers a comprehensive webinar service with a professional feel. It is perhaps not the most ‘exciting’ service available but it does the basics right and should provide a secure, specialized service.
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