I needed to host a remote training session recently and had to do a little research to determine the best, free way to do it. As a result I’m sharing my research so you don’t have to go through it as well.
My remote training session had two requirements. A live tele-conference, and a live Web based demo. As a result, I’ve broken this article into two sections; free conference calling, and free Web based presentations.
Free Conference Calling
Vyew.com offers both free Conference Calling and free Web Collaboration in one integrated package. Better yet, there are no software downloads whatsoever. You simply create an account, and begin. The free version allows up to 20 participants and is ad supported.
Vyew allows you to prepare for a meeting in advance by creating your content and saving in into a workbook. You can edit and annotate information in real time while presenting and even share your desktop and navigate around with your Web browser. They have a few videos that demonstrate how it works.
LiveOffice offers a robust free calling alternative which allows up to 250 attendees for 6 hours, plus give you the option of recording your call to MP3 format.
Frankly for large conferencing capabilities LiveOffice seems to be the best choice, though I’d test it out a couple of times with a group before committing to it with customers or anything mission critical.
Interested in hosting a 3-hour conference call with up to a hundred participants? You can set up calls via this Web site, and people join by calling a number that FreeConference.com specifies.
They’ve also got a presentation to show you how to use it.
Although Skype requires that participants have either a Web-cam or microphone installed on their system, it’s prevalent enough that there is a reasonable chance that your participants might already be using it. If that’s the case, you can fire up a voice call and invite each of the participants to join in.
Users can hold 10-Way Conference Calls to Skype contacts for free, and to landlines and mobiles for a fee.
Spreed kind of squeaks into the free conference calling category by allowing those participants who have Web cams and microphones to participate via video or audio conference. While I actually think this is very cool, most people simply don’t have Web-cams hooked up so I don’t think it can be considered a reliable Conferencing solution.
Additionally, Spreed is only free for up to 3 users. After that, their prices go up insanely.
Free Web Collaboration and Desktop Sharing
See previous description.
Yugma is a free web conferencing service that enables people to instantly connect over the Internet and to collaborate using any application or software, using both Windows and Mac.
The service allows up to 10 users for free, or more for a fee. Only the presenter can “drive” in the free version, but other than that it seems pretty good.
If you only need to do one on one training/desktop sharing and both you and your participant have Skype installed you can opt for the free Unite plugin which allows collaboration. If you need to use it with more than one other person you can pay for the capability for up to 25 people. But frankly Vyew is a much better, cheaper option and it doesn’t require downloads.
See previous description.
Other Web Collaboration Options
There were a few options that I’m not recommending for a variety of reasons, but they’re at least worth listing in case you didn’t find anything above that meets your needs.
- CrossLoop Screen Sharing – creates secure connection between 2 PCs.
- LogMeIn – can be used to remote control a PC and therefor do demonstrations and collaborative browsing.
- Screen Stream
If you’ve got other alternatives to add please just drop a comment below to let me know.