webexThis CyberKenBlog post tells how to save time and gas money by meeting online, using WebEx, an online conferencing service that is free for meetings with three participants or less.

Install Java to Enjoy all the WebEx Features

Visit WebEx.com and you’ll discover that you’ll need to install the most recent version of Java by Oracle.

About Java and Security

Java will need to be installed on whatever office or personal computers you plan to use for  WebEx meetings.  For a while Java was experiencing security problems, but Oracle, the chief Java provider, has patched the holes.  I checked reviews on the latest version and it’s deemed safe.  When you use Java to participate in a WebEx meeting, the server asks whether you want to enable Java just for that one session or for all sessions.  Java will not be enabled for any other site unless you authorize it.  To download and install a safe version of Java go to:  http://java.com/en.

How-to Join and Participate in WebEx Meetings

When you reply to an email invitation or an email reminder to join a WebEx meeting, a window will open for you to test your speakers, either desktop or laptop speakers or ear pads on a headset; and also your microphone, either mounted in your computer or on the mic strut of a headset.  Take a minute to test your audio connections.  If you choose to connect via your computer rather than a telephone it is best–though not absolutely necessary–to use a headset.  This will give you a clearer connection for both speaking and listening.

In Online Conferencing, a Good Audio Connection is Essential

The most important requirement for conducting successful online meetings is establishing reliable audio connections.  If all participants have fast internet connections, then everyone can use computer audio satisfactorily. This is called VOIP, “voice over the internet protocol”.  If your computer doesn’t have a fast internet connection, and/or your computer’s processing chip is not powerful, then it’s better to join a WebEx meeting via telephone (either land line or cell).  When you convene a WebEx meeting you can choose to set up a telephone conference to facilitate audio connections.  That meeting will get a telephone number assigned to it, and a code number for participants to log in with.  These will be included in the email sent to all participants.

When Joining a WebEx Meeting, After Testing Your Audio Connection, Then What?

When a meeting opens the convener has control over whose desktop is seen.  By default, meetings always open with the convener’s desktop showing. But the convener can assign desktop sharing to another participant by clicking on the “assign” link in the pull-down menu that appears at the top of the screen.  (This pull-down menu hides at the top border of each participant’s screen, but comes down when one hovers the cursor there.)

How to Use the Chat Window in WebEX

You will notice a “chat” link in this pull-down menu.  This link opens a small window accessible by all particiants where they can leave text messages.  All meeting participants will instantly see messages left there.  This is a good way for participants to post questions or comments for a presenter without interrupting his/her speaking.

How to Use the “Mute-me” Link in WebEx

You will also notice a “mute me” link.  If there are several participants, and especially if they are using VOIP, the audio stream can become noisy, and/or operate a bit sluggishly.  However, if participants mute their microphones, then the listening experience for everyone improves.

How to Set Up a WebEx Meeting

You can schedule a WebEx meeting or convene one immediately. You simply will need the user name and password for a WebEx account in order to log in at: http://bit.ly/19nt2Rz.  Using WebEx is free for meetings with up to three participants.

After Logging into WebEx.com, Then What?

After logging in, you will click either to begin your meeting immediately, or schedule one.  In either case, an email note is sent to all participants.  This email contains a link to join the meeting, plus the check-in time , log-in instructions, and documents you may have chosen to attach.  Participants will do well to flag invitation-to-meeting emails so that they can be found easily when the time comes to join a meeting.

What Can Participants Share in a WebEx Meeting?

The sky’s the limit!  I find that if I make a Google presentation (similar to Power Point) and save that on my Google Drive, that can be used quite nicely as an agenda.  Also, other Google documents, such as word processed docs, spreadsheets, or paint docs.  Whoever is sharing a desktop can open anything on the Web, or anything via applications on his/her computer. All meeting participants will see the content displayed.  They don’t have to have those applications installed on their own computers to see the content.  This is a great advantage in sharing content produced by an app like MS Publisher, which few people have installed.

How Best to Share Videos in WebEx Meetings

The best way to share a video with all participants would be to have the video file on one’s own computer, get the desktop sharing assigned to oneself by the convener, then start that video file.  This would be more likely to provide a satisfactory viewing experience for all participants. However, if everyone has a fast internet connection, then sharing a YouTube or Vimeo video would likely go well too.

WebEx Meetings Are Great for Coaching

If you have a computer problem and want help from a savvy colleague, get coaching help via Webex.  The convener assigns desktop sharing to the person who needing help.  That person then can then explain and demonstrate the problem.  The convener can coach the sharer about what to do, watching his/her cursor movements.  Or else, the desktop sharing can be shifted back to the convener, in which case he/she uses his/her own desktop and cursor to explain solutions.

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