Since January I have been using a web based conferencing tool called Cool Conference Live and I have been very pleased with it. What is more, it costs less than $50 a year to use.You can try it out for free but your participants will see ads. Much better is to spend the $50 which allows you to place your own ads.
Your own custom ads are a perfect way to promote your upcoming events. Just the other day I gave a preview webinar to some business owners and at the top of the page was my “ad” consisting of the name of the full, paid event plus a link to it’s landing page.
Cool Conference Live operates around the concept of rooms. You upload a presentation or document to your selected room where it is converted to the format that Cool Conference uses internally. It seems to support the most common formats. Uploads are quick and work well. Once the room is created, you can schedule events for each room. You can make these events public or private and can decide whether they should appear on your “widget” (more about that in a moment) or not. You can also select if you want to be notified as attendees sign-up.
Once you have created your event you get a link that you use to send people to register. You can also use Cool Conference Live to send the invitations if you prefer.
The system also gives you access to a widget which you can place on your website or blog (like the one to the left). This is a nice way to promote your event.
You also get access to a free telephone conference line which has a variety of capabilities such as being able to mute all attendees (presentation mode) or allowing attendees to unmute themselves individually. This is helpful when there is a lot of noise in the background. The audio can also be recorded and downloaded later but the quality of the recording is pretty poor.I use it as a backup recording and use my Zoom H2 recorder instead.
During the conference you have even more tools at your disposal. The two most useful are “chat” where you can send a message to all attendees or to one individual privately. There is also a polling feature which is basic but very helpful. There is also a file sharing feature and you can play an audio or video file. I haven’t actually tried those features yet.
Attendees also get to put a little about themselves including a photo and website link.This shows up in the right hand side in a box so you know who is attending.
The system appears to be very stable. I have had no issues with it at all and nor has any of my attendees.
There are only a couple of things I would like to see added, well ok, three things and they are:
- a way to capture an attendee list. Currently there is a registration list but it would be nice if it showed if the person actually showed up
- a way to show a live desktop session. Sometimes I would like to demonstrate how to drive a software or website
- a way to have a special password for sessions that I want to keep private to paying customers
But hey, for $50 for the year, you really can’t complain. For the added features, I would gladly pay more.
When you compare functionality with some of the other “big” company offerings Cool Conference Live is really a steal.