So we are all trying to save money, and one of the easiest ways of cutting costs is by slashing the travel budget. If people need to get together there are plenty of ways they can do it that don’t involve travel, or even leaving the office.
Although I’ve been involved in lots of webinars and have participated in many Skype meetings I’m still a relative novice when it comes to large-scale online meetings. I’ve been tasked with facilitating a 2/3 hour online meeting for up to 16 people so have been looking at some of the options out there. The first service I’ve looked at is GoToMeeting.
GoToMeeting is a part of a suite of Web-hosted services created by Citrix Online. It is a remote meeting and desktop sharing software. I’ve talked about Gotowebinar before, which is a very similar service to Elluminate. Having used webinar software more than online meeting software I was surprised at how simplistic Gotomeeting was – but I think that’s the point. Why have all the bells and whistles if they distract from actual communication. It turns out that GoToMeeting took the remote access and screen sharing technology from GoToMyPC and GoToAssist and have extended it for their collaborative meeting software. The idea is that GoToMeeting accommodates larger audiences. This is something I’m particularly interested in as I feel Skype really doesn’t scale up well and Elluminate (and other webinar services) is ineffective when more than one or two people need to talk.
Getting a free 30 day trial version of GoToMeeting was fairly easy and the whole thing is easy to download and set up. You can connect by VOIP using a mic and headphones or using your phone and dialling in. The meeting is lead by an organiser, who schedules the meeting, and a presenter, who can share their desktop contents, they can also allow others to share their desktop, use the mouse and highlight or draw on what ever desktop is up using the drawing tools. The presenter can change during the meeting.
Although I only had myself to talk to (I set up 2 laptops and a PC to try the service out) and would need to do some testing with others I found the service really intuitive and straightforward. It is easy to invite people and easy to record all that happens. My twitter friends also rate it. On the downside the standard edition has a 15 attendee limit (you can go up to 25 if you are a corporate customer) and there is currently no video conferencing option. I also believe that some features are disabled for the Mac – which could be a problem.
There is a useful introductory demo available from the GoToMeeting site.
There are a number of GoToMeeting plans and you can purchase the service for just one month at a cost of £34.80 – if you compare this to the cost of travel and room hire it is an appealing deal.