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Web Conferencing Providers

Web conferencing allow you to set up a meeting when you can't get everyone together in person, and allows you to share your desktop, show PowerPoint presentations or videos, or see participants' faces via webcams.

AnyMeeting

Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Information Technology Services endorses AnyMeeting for web conferences. This allows meetings and workshops to be conducted online, and allows people who can’t attend worship or congregational events in person to participate online. An online attendee needs only a computer with high speed Internet and a telephone.

Support Community

If you intend to host meetings using AnyMeeting, consider joining a community of congregational technology users for ongoing support. Take two minutes to subscribe to the UUA ChurchMgmtSoftware email list where you can ask a question, search for an answer, or give someone else a hand. After subscribing, you’ll receive an email asking for confirmation. In the email, select the link labeled “Or visit this web page” for best results.

AnyMeeting Features

You can have a free account if you’re ok with ads appearing on everyone’s screen during the meeting. Or you can purchase a month-to-month subscription for an ad-free account.

Depending on the account you choose, up to 25 or 200 people can join your conference. Up to six webcams can be visible at one time, people can raise their virtual hands, and you can record the meeting audio and screen sharing. You may also like the ability to conduct quick polls and easily send follow-up emails to your attendees.

Account Setup Steps

Only meeting hosts need an AnyMeeting account; attendees do not. Here’s how to setup your free or paid account.

  1. Go to AnyMeeting for UUA Community Members.
     
  2. Click on any of the three buttons at the bottom to begin the registration process. If you select either of the paid plans, you’ll receive a 10% discount by using coupon code “UUA” when you complete the payment section. In that case, you will be billed each month, and you can change your selection or close your account at any time without penalty.
     
  3. Fill out the registration form. Your email address will be your account login name. You can choose the web address (“URL”) that your attendees will use to join your meetings. The URL and phone numbers assigned to your account will not change over time.
     
  4. Before you run your first meeting, test your computer to make sure it’s ready to go.
     
    1. Click on “Support” at the top of the page to go to the Support page.
       
    2. Click on the “System Test” button to run a series of automated tests.
       
    3. The test will tell you if any settings need to be changed, or if you need to update Java or Flash.
       
    4. After running the automated test, click to test your network connection (if any), your webcam and microphone (if you plan to use those), and your speakers.
       
  5. We suggest watching the Support page “Help Videos” called Quick Start and Screen Sharing. The Support page also features a knowledgebase, FAQ, troubleshooting wizards, and other resources.

A Note About Audio

Unless you’re particularly tech-savvy, we recommend using the conference call phone number provided by AnyMeeting, rather than using AnyMeeting’s support for your computer microphone and speakers.

Other Conferencing Options

Congregations have tried a number of web conferencing solutions and have offered the following communtary.

  • Join.me is a simple way to share your screen with one or more participants. You can give control of your screen to a participant, making it ideal for one-on-one trainings, troubleshooting, etc. it supports integrated long distance phone service but no VoIP. It also has chat, but no hand-raising or meeting scheduling like AnyMeeting.
  • Free Conference is very easy to use and has good quality.
     
  • TeamViewer works well, though it's not uncommon for at least one person in a group to have trouble getting the audio to work.
     
  • Initial tests with Google Hangout look good.
     
  • Skype is a good option if one person only cannot participate.
     
  • Buddy Meeting has had some promising reviews.

Voice Connection Only

  • If you all you need is a voice connection, you can use a free conference call system like Free Conference Call. The only drawback is that it's likely to be a long-distance call for each participant.

For more information contact web @ uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Tuesday, October 2, 2012.

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