Originally published on April 25, 2017

31st in a series of 50 Knowledge Management Components (Slides 41–42 in KM 102)

Virtual meeting rooms and web conferencing: online, real-time tools designed to allow teams to share presentations, applications, and white boards during meetings

Videoconferencing: Technology that allows two or more locations to communicate by simultaneous two-way video and audio transmissions

Telepresence: Technology that allows a person to feel as if they were present, to give the appearance of being present, at a place other than their true location

Virtual teams have become widespread. In the past, teams were often located in the same location and could meet in person whenever they wanted. Now they are often widely distributed across geographies, may never have met the other team members in person, and communicate primarily through email, instant messaging, and telephone calls.

Conference calls are typically used for virtual teams to meet regularly. To enhance the sharing that can be done during a conference all, virtual meeting rooms allow participants to view common presentations, share applications, write on virtual white boards, conduct polls, engage in group chats, and see on another on video.

Team spaces can be used effectively for typical presentations by posting slides in the meeting space prior to the conference call, asking participants to download the files, and having presenters regularly refer to the current slide number. This avoids the need for a virtual meeting room. This can also be done on the Internet using a free conference call provider (see below) for audio, SlideShare for slides, and Twitter for group chat. See How to Avoid Webinar Failures for more on this approach.

Web Conferencing

When a live demonstration will be performed, when notes will be taken that need to be shared in real time, or when there is a need for video or other dynamic visual content, then a virtual meeting room or video conference is required.

Web conferencing tools include:

  1. Adobe Connect
  2. Cisco WebEx
  3. Google Hangouts
  4. GoToMeeting
  5. HCL Sametime
  6. LoopUp
  7. Microsoft Skype
  8. Microsoft Teams
  9. Slack Calls
  10. Zoom


Advances in video conferencing technology allow more closely approximating face-to-face meetings. Participants actually feel as though they are in the same room despite being in different locations.

The major telepresence providers are:

  1. Cisco
  2. Huawei
  3. Lifesize
  4. Polycom
  5. Vidyo

Free Conference Calls

These started out for audio dial-in only. Some providers of free conference call services have expanded their offerings to include web conferencing. Of these, the one I recommend is the first one listed below. It offers the most features for free.

  1. FreeConference.com
  2. Join Me
  3. Totally Free Conference Calls
  • Audio only
  1. Free Conference Calling
  2. Free Conference USA


  1. Top Web Conferencing Software Products by Capterra
  2. The Best Video Conferencing Software of 2017 by Juan Martinez and Molly K. McLaughlin
  3. Best Web Conferencing Software by G2 Crowd
  4. Gartner Magic Quadrant for Web Conferencing
  5. Gartner Magic Quadrant for Group Video Systems
  6. The Forrester Wave: Webconferencing
  7. The Forrester Wave: Desktop Videoconferencing
  8. The Forrester Wave: Room-Based Videoconferencing
  9. Telepresence by TKO VideoConferencing
  10. Comparing the top video conferencing vendors and their products by Simon Dudley
  11. 7 Platforms for Free Conference Calls by Alex Ivanovs
  12. 8 awesome (and sometimes free) conference call services by Ed Tittel and Kim Lindros
  13. Virtual Meetings by Nancy Settle-Murphy
  14. Recording Conference Calls on a Budget by Andrew Gent
  15. The Conference Call by David Grady
  16. Whiteboard Collaboration
  17. The 10 Best Online Whiteboards with Realtime Collaboration


  1. Virtual Meetings
  2. Web Conferencing
  3. Video Conferencing
  4. Skype
  5. Skype for Business
  6. Google Hangouts
  7. Best Practice Conference Calls by Gihan Perera and Brandon Munro
  8. No More Lame Conference Calls: The 6 Principles You Need to Lead Great Meetingsby Bernice Ross and Byron Van Arsdale
  9. Effectively Managing Conference Calls with Virtual Team by Jay Jung and Niki Jung
  10. Using Adobe Connect 9.5 by Todd McCall
  11. WebEx Web Meetings For Dummies by Nancy Stevenson
  12. Cisco TelePresence Fundamentals by Tim Szigeti, Kevin McMenamy, Roland Saville, and Alan Glowacki

Knowledge Management Author and Speaker, Founder of SIKM Leaders Community, Community Evangelist, Knowledge Manager https://sites.google.com/site/stangarfield/

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