Like a teleconference, but with PowerPoint
January 27, 2016 2:45 AM   Subscribe

We've been using WebEx for teleconferencing with screen sharing, and it's been a nightmare to get all the attendees set up. What other options do we have?

We need to do a couple of international teleconferences a month, with a group gathered in a meeting room on our end, and people joining in individually or in small teams from all over the world. Part of the meeting is always (unavoidable, cannot be sent in a separate file) a presentation when our group needs to share live PowerPoint slides with everyone.

We've been using BT's WebEx, and frankly it's pants. The current 'contact us' option (from within our paid account) goes to a 404, screensharing didn't work for a few months, and the WebEx instance is not compatible with Windows 10.

Before every meeting we circulate a document with a detailed guide to the system, stressing that people make sure their machines run WebEx, but even then, there are always a few important international collaborators failing to get the audio or discovering they can't access the meeting because of Windows 10 or other technical things we can do very little about in the middle of our presentation. There are frequently new people joining, so unfortunately it's not just a matter of getting everyone used to the system and ready to go for the next meeting.

So my question is: can we find a system that lets us do screen sharing and teleconferencing without requiring a special install? Or if it is a system that does require installing, can we find something that actually works across MAC and PC operating systems? It would be ideal if it also worked on smartphones - to my surprise, WebEx does fairly well with the iPhone - but it's not absolutely required.

We do not require video sharing. Nobody wants video. We just want the PowerPoint slides on everyone's screens. We would also need the audio to be linked to our teleconference phone, since there are lots of people gathered around on our end, and the one laptop we have is tethered to our projector.
posted by harujion to Technology (20 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Have you tried I think only people presenting have to install anything, otherwise it is just via web browser. I've been happy with the screen sharing. Haven't used the audio, but I'm pretty sure it's an option.
posted by msbubbaclees at 2:53 AM on January 27, 2016 [2 favorites]

I've recently had good luck with Zoom, which does require a one-click install, but seems to be easy for very non-technical folks to use, and I've heard especially good things about it for international calls. It also runs pretty seamlessly on smartphones/tablets, which was a plus for me.

When I need something that doesn't require a separate install, I look at Google Hangouts on Air (in my case, via WebinarAlly on a website, but can be run standalone). That is a little trickier to set up, especially for private meetings, but is super easy for end users. They just go to a website and the meeting loads for them.
posted by instamatic at 3:23 AM on January 27, 2016

Came in to suggest as well.
posted by like_neon at 3:35 AM on January 27, 2016

webex is awful (i am actually about to buy a new machine, on work money, just to have a stable platform to run it).

skype and google chat both have screen sharing, and are free and robust. but they have video too - maybe you actively don't want that?
posted by andrewcooke at 3:37 AM on January 27, 2016

Response by poster: To clarify: yes, orders from on high are to actively avoid having any video in these meetings. It's way more distracting than it is helpful.

I should also have mentioned that we need to have sessions with at least 25 users, and that paying a reasonable fee for whatever service we choose is no obstacle. Good service and a reliable platform is worth a lot for this project.

Thanks for the suggestions so far, and please keep them coming - it's really helpful to have a lot of opinions on this.
posted by harujion at 3:47 AM on January 27, 2016

Best answer: I've used GoToMeeting for this sort of thing and it's generally worked very dependably. The biggest problem we've had is with feedback on some laptops. But having people use headphones or a conference mic and speakers (for a group) resolved it.
posted by ashworth at 3:53 AM on January 27, 2016 [2 favorites]

Paid Skype allows up to 25 separate participants. Skype pro up to 250. Just don't click the video call button. Screen sharing is excellent. Audio call quality is excellent. They have clients for every device known to man.
posted by chasles at 3:56 AM on January 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Another vote for GotoMeeting. It does require installation, but I'm giving presentations to not-always-tech-savvy social workers, and no one has had significant problems.
posted by metasarah at 3:57 AM on January 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: We use GotoMeeting also.
posted by LoveHam at 4:13 AM on January 27, 2016 does require a viewer application install but it's super one-click easy and then it runs in the browser. I wouldn't hesitate to use it for all but my most intractable "what is a browser?" clients.
posted by soren_lorensen at 4:34 AM on January 27, 2016

I like Uber Conference for this. Simple for the organizers and participants.

And a funny hold song as a bonus.
posted by cessair at 4:44 AM on January 27, 2016

Best answer: GoToMeeting is probably the most reliable competitor. It does require an install, but not of a sort that requires admin privileges (one of the issues we ran into when we used WebEx). In general, we have better results with the audio when people call in instead of using their computer.
posted by missmerrymack at 4:52 AM on January 27, 2016

Are you using MS Office? The last couple of places I've worked, we used Lync, which is rebranded as [business] Skype, and just call into the BT conference number instead of using the audio features on the software.

I think it comes with Office 365.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 5:25 AM on January 27, 2016

Another vote for Very lightweight and I believe non-presenters can just log in through a web interface without any local installs.
posted by slogger at 5:41 AM on January 27, 2016

I hated GotoMeeting and WebEx at various previous employers. We are now using Zoom and it's pretty terrific.
posted by nkknkk at 6:46 AM on January 27, 2016

At my work we use BlueJeans
You can have large groups of users, share screens, and it crosses devices.... You can join by phone, computer, cell phone app.
posted by chapps at 7:13 AM on January 27, 2016

Another vote for Zoom.
posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld at 8:14 AM on January 27, 2016

Also hate GoToMeeting. Ugh. And it's even worse on a Mac.

We use a skinned version of Zoom (it's part of our VOIP package) which I like.
posted by radioamy at 11:24 AM on January 27, 2016

You might want to check out GlobalMeet which has screenshare, the option to upload files, and integrated audio. It's browser-based and works on Windows 10 (Firefox/Chrome only). The only download is for the host's screenshare, guests do not need to download anything. (Disclaimer: I work in the technical support department and I get nothing for people signing up.)
posted by angelchrys at 7:32 PM on January 27, 2016

Response by poster: Thanks all. Lots of good information here. I'll have a closer look at the recommended systems, and try and remember to update this thread when (if?) we switch.
posted by harujion at 12:23 AM on January 28, 2016

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