Ten (of many) reasons you may not want to use free web conferencing

Warning: Sarcasm ahead!

These days you can get a professional web conferencing service for the amount you spent on pizza for last week’s meeting. Here are a few (of the many!) possible reminders about what you’re getting in terms of money, time, and productivity.

NOTE: The conferencing company sales rep tried to tell your IT department this stuff, but they didn’t listen because their budget is measured in their dollars, not in your new gray hairs. The conferencing company isn’t entirely off the hook though, but they couldn’t put it all this stuff in a data sheet because their marketing department won’t write it like I will.

Professional appearance

Free is fine for planning the family reunion with the cousins, but, really? We’re talking about business worth good money and you send me a link to CheaperThanFreeConferencingForYouAndHomeRepairToo.com? So you probably wear jeans with holes in them to business meetings too, right? I didn’t think so.

Professional skills

If you play a cheap guitar and pick it up once a month, you’re not very good and you’ll never be ready for a good guitar in front of an important audience. If meeting, training, or speaking virtually feels uncomfortable, go get a good guitar and start using it regularly.

VoIP and video quality

Maybe we’re more tolerant these days because we’re used to our mobile phone providers dropping out, but I’ll bet when that happens you still flip ’em a bird like they can actually see you. High quality (if not HD) video and VoIP mean the client can actually see and hear you now. Save the NSFW stuff for the mobile phone company.


The asset created from your virtual meeting, webinar, or class can do a LOT of work for you over the following days, weeks, even months or years.

File hosting

Sure, the cost of hosting a file is about as cheap (typically the recording) as it’s ever been, but as long as we’re looking at all the fine points of differentiation, add it in.

Calendar integration

Set up a meeting or call in one place versus two…half the clicks, half the hassle. Oh, it got rescheduled? Double down on that bet. Have to ALSO schedule the conference call separately? You get the idea.

Integrated reporting

What gets reported varies greatly by service. Don’t think, however, that reporting is only for webinar power users. Maybe you just want to verify that the team did (or didn’t) watch the recording.

Sustainable business models

Sometimes you learn to like the way one or another conferencing service works just because, and after a while it becomes an integrated part of the way you do business. Then switching becomes painful because you have all these recordings and you just know how to work it and you like the way they manage group chat and you have a system for how you get  leads into your CRM and and and… ouch.   Free is not a sustainable business model.

You will use web conferencing more than you thought you would

One top reason cited by conferencing companies about why people don’t convert from a free trial to a paid subscription is, “I only need it once in awhile.” Most people look back and remember that they said the same thing about mobile phones. Now could you live without it?

You will use web conferencing for things you didn’t think you would

It’s a little hardcore, but in my office we actually use web conferencing while we’re all in the same room. Why? Not having to transcribe a whiteboard (I know, I could be much more cool transcribing the photo of the whiteboard somebody took with their phone and emailed to me). File transfer. Document collaboration. And when we need to include someone outside our tiny office, we’re already used to doing business in a way that’s inclusive of them.

I’d eat my own socks if you don’t have something in your business that is really useful now that you never anticipated would be so valuable. You may not use web conferencing while sitting at the same table, but you will find it’s more handy than you might fully anticipate.

The bottom line

To be entirely fair, there is a place for web conferencing that’s free. There is a time when you don’t need some or most of the features. Whether it’s fifty bucks a month for yourself or fifty grand a year for your team, just remember this:

I don’t have a bone to pick or a service to sell (we don’t sell web/audio/video conferencing). What I do do is talk to people every week who are leaving money on the table by equipping themselves poorly (and frankly, it’s most of them).

I have no doubt YOU have something you could teach me in your area of expertise. Trust ME that a professional web conferencing service is a bargain if you’re serious about being a professional in your business.

4 thoughts on “Ten (of many) reasons you may not want to use free web conferencing

  1. Darren Fleming

    That’s exactly the point of paid web conferencing, the ones created only for businesses, no real client or customer will want to take a business conference with you via free and awkward websites. Of course, webinars on gotomeeting or related websites are good since they provide free trial, or for a quick one, conferences on Skype has always worked at its best for me. Nowadays, I’ve heard about basecamp, would it be good to use for such things?

    1. TheVP


      As best I know, Basecamp (37Signals) supports only asynchronous collaboration, while their Campfire product does have audio conferencing for real time interaction (they’d be the authorities on that, not me).

      To your point, though…Skype and “free” have their place, and it looks like we’d agree that paying a bit for a professional solution is well worth it.

      I’ve found that’s it’s pretty rare that anyone (including even solopreneurs) doesn’t find that they discover new and useful features and uses in good web conferencing solutions, and get hooked on having it around all the time.

  2. David Guan

    Quality of free web conferencing tools is not reliable. Instead, I would recommend paid web conferencing tools like RHUB web conferencing appliances.

    1. TheVP

      Thanks for the comment, David. Obviously I agree that there’s great value in upgrading to a more professional solution.

      Might I suggest, however, that something that is blatantly self-promotional doesn’t help you as much as it could if you instead taught somebody something. Give them a reason to believe, investigate, think, or take action. In other words, earn the right to be investigated more fully by giving something of value.



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