Avoid a mishap by understanding the power of web conferencing

Wednesday, September 15 2010

In most cases, web conferencing is a simple and easy tool that can help businesses reap all the benefits of face-to-face meetings without the expense and hassle of travel. However, when moderators don't understand the technology, misunderstandings can happen - sometimes very embarrassing ones.

MSNBC Today tells the story of a web conference moderator who didn't realize that sharing his desktop with the conference participants meant that they could see everything he was doing, not just the things that were relevant to the conference.

“The moderator was showing applications on his desktop which means everyone could see everything,” Lori Howard McCool, an events manager, told Today. “He was also instant messaging with his girlfriend, planning their evening."

McCool said that the content of the conversation was highly inappropriate for the conference, but the moderator didn't seem aware that others could see what he was writing. She tried to remind the man that his computer was visible, but he didn't take the hint.

"I finally had to say, 'It looks like you have a very interesting evening planned in your chat,'" McCool recalled. "And he was like 'You can see that?'"

When using web conferencing technology, it's important to remember that the strength - and the weakness - of the system is its ability to let you share everything you're doing in real-time. Use web conferencing responsibly, and you can avoid an embarrassing fate.