Debunking the Virtual Meeting

The Difference Between Teleconferences, Virtual Conferences, and Web Conferences

By Olivia Orman

Virtual solutions have significantly impacted how meeting planners and suppliers conduct business.  The exponential increase and integration of new technology practices have provided both parties the opportunity to meet and retain an active discussion with associates across the region while remaining at the office.

Though meeting face-to-face is more personable and enables the planner to closely analyze the product or service for their upcoming meeting, conference, or event, it may not be feasible to travel out of the office.  That is where teleconferences, virtual conferences, and web conferences become a valuable resource.  But when is it most suitable, as a planner or supplier, to meet one way over the other?

Teleconferences

Meeting over the phone is one method planners and suppliers can use to entrust business with one another.  Teleconferences are achieved when both parties dial into an assigned conference call bridge that is password protected.

When to Use

Teleconferences are ideal for planners and suppliers to discuss ideas and questions, without the use of graphics.  Beneficial information to cover through this medium includes specs for desired event space, the number of attendees, and catering calculations – to name a few.  Conversing over the phone also eliminates the potential for technical issues, and this method allows for both parties to have access to their computers.

When to Avoid

When planners and suppliers need to convey graphics or presentations in order to communicate their point, virtual conferences and web conferences are the most effective methods to utilize.  Teleconferences can help both parties make important introductory notes to follow up on, but the conversation is limited by the lack of visuals.

Virtual Conferences

Planner and supplier relations become more personable when a face is placed to a name, and virtual meetings help company associates achieve just that.  Unlike teleconferences, virtual conferences use both audio/visual and take place on a computer after attendees are shared a link or email to join.

When to Use

Virtual conferences can help planners and suppliers portray a product or idea visually.  For instance, if the planner requests a product demonstration or wants a virtual tour of a property for their upcoming function, virtual conferencing can help the planner experience the product or venue to some degree.  This method is also suitable for associates who simply want to re-create as much of a conventional face-to-face meeting as possible, without actually meeting.

When to Avoid

If both company’s associates simply want to communicate information that can be exchanged verbally and avoid the potential for technical difficulties, telecommunication is the most efficient type of virtual meeting to pursue.  But, if one or both parties want to share a PowerPoint presentation or image across the digital conference screen, web conferencing is the most sensible platform to use.

Web Conferences

Meeting face-to-face on the web is the most interactive and engaging way to converse digitally.  From screen-sharing, to presentation-sharing, and video-sharing, planners and suppliers are able to live-share documents on their computer to all participants in the webchat.

When to Use

As stated above, web conferences have a diverse range of functionality that can help both parties share multimedia information, thus enhancing and further illustrating their proposal.  This method is especially useful if the planner or supplier wants to give a formal presentation that they prepared ahead of time, or generally wants to have access to all the digital document-sharing capabilities.

When to Avoid

Because this method is internet-based and can share files across screens, there is a likely chance for technical issues.  If both parties are focusing more on the discussion, rather than making use of all the digital-sharing features, it is most efficient to opt for teleconferences or visual conferences and send the files before the meeting is scheduled to begin.

Virtually Unlimited

Planners and suppliers have quite a few things to consider when opting to schedule and coordinate a digital meeting.  Teleconferences, virtual conferences, and web conferences are all viable ways to meet over the screen, but it is important to understand when one method can be more advantageous over the other.

Though virtual meetings take place on a computer, there is still a considerable amount of planning that takes place before the meeting occurs.  Building a strong digital foundation, in the age of technology, is a helpful step that will make these virtual meetings come together seamlessly.

MM&E

Olivia Orman is a contributing writer from St. Louis.

About the author

Joe Clote

Joseph W. Clote is owner of Publishing Concepts, LLC a communications and marketing firm based in Saint Louis, Missouri. Mr. Clote is Group Publisher of MeetMed™ and Missouri Meetings & Events™ (MM&E) magazine, a quarterly publication read by thousands of meeting and event professionals, and producer of the St. Louis and Kansas City trade shows under the MM&E name. Mr. Clote has extensive sales and marketing expertise in the travel, tourism, fine art, insurance, and software development industries.