What is web conferencing?

Web conferencing is the practice of holding real-time online meetings. Various conferencing software solutions and services – for audio, video conferencing, instant messaging, digital whiteboarding, desktop and screen sharing, etc. – may be deployed, depending on the use case at hand. Beyond internal company meetings, web conferences may also be used for live events, webinars, presentations, trainings, and customer support.

As long as all participants have a stable internet connection, web conferencing software can connect them to the session from virtually any location and device. Web conference attendees may join and participate from their PCs/Macs, mobile devices, or a standards-based video conferencing system. Modern web conferencing software ultimately makes it easier to collaborate in real time, leading to superior internal and external communications.

Learn more about Webex web conferencing solutions.

How does web conferencing work?

Now that you know what web conferencing is, let’s talk about how it works. First, the host will need a web conferencing platform from which to set up and conduct the online meeting. Other participants can then join from an internet-connected device capable of running a web conference client, or via a video system or even a web browser, with no plugins or additional downloads required. When it’s time to start, they may simply tap a button in the corresponding desktop, mobile, or web app, or follow the link or a dial-in included in the conference invitation.

Everything in the web conference itself happens in real time. That means that meetings attendees can:

  • Converse over a crisp, clear audio connection.
  • See each other in high-definition video.
  • Share content such as files, apps, and entire screens.
  • Mark up digital whiteboards and/or annotate assets.
  • Communicate via managed and moderated chat.
  • Engage in Q&A and live polling.
  • Record the entire conference for later viewing/listening.
  • Connect to meeting room-based conferencing systems.
  • Enjoy end-to-end security and scalable performance.

The structure of a web conference, as well as the availability and applicability of the features above, will vary based on the purpose of the meeting and the technical solution that’s hosting it.

For example, some conferences may simply use embedded audio for two-way communication between a pair of participants – perfect for a quick check-in. In contrast, others may take full advantage of a web conferencing platform’s content sharing, video conferencing, and Q&A support to hold an in-depth, interactive webinar.

Overall, web conferences enable productive collaboration through a wide range of features. Whether that involves passing presenter controls between internal participants or reaching thousands of customers via a live event broadcast, reliable web conferencing software makes it happen.

What are the main features of web conferencing software?

Though features vary, the core capabilities of web conferencing solutions include:

Video conferencing

An HD video connection provides crystal-clear insights into everyone’s reactions and body language. Plus, it unlocks unique possibilities such as hands-on demos and live webinar panels. Web conferencing platforms may support single- or multi-point video, with flexible viewing options and support for multiple conferencing systems and services.

Learn more about video conferencing with Webex Meetings.

Audio conferencing

Audio options in a web conferencing platform are often extensive. Attendees may be able to connect to cloud audio, VoIP, PSTN, and audio broadcasts. Web conferencing solutions may include features for switching between audio options, muting/unmuting callers, dialing in (or having the meeting call a participant when it’s time), and scheduling online meetings.

Learn more about the audio conferencing features in Webex Meetings.

Content and screen sharing

When using web conferencing for a presentation or collaborative meeting, content and screen sharing literally helps keep everyone on the same page. Using functionality built into the web conferencing platform, presenters can share files, applications, animations and other multimedia content, as well as share entire screens or desktops. It’s very straightforward to walk meeting participants through a slide deck, send them a file that’s being discussed, or demonstrate a detailed workflow from start to finish.

Learn more about the screen sharing features in Webex Meetings.

Additional tools and configurations

Web conferencing solutions may also come with:

  • Integrated recording.
  • Polling, Q&A, and post-event surveys.
  • Registration management.
  • Online instant messaging.
  • Enterprise app integration.
  • Multi-OS support and localized versions.

Explore Webex Meetings.


What are the use cases for web conferences?

Web conferencing software is useful in multiple contexts.

Business collaboration

With easy anytime/anywhere access to high-quality video and audio, workers can connect with colleagues, customers, and business partners without having to go to a specific site. That saves on travel costs without compromising anything in terms of productivity and clarity.


Web conferencing software can be the backbone of an online learning initiative. Students and instructors can leverage multimedia content and screen sharing, threaded Q&A, and learning management system integration to effectively communicate over great distances.


Need to deliver top-shelf service to customers anywhere around the globe? Dedicated web conferencing solutions let agents use video, audio, screen sharing, and recording to provide the best possible experience to customers.

Live events and webinars

From a scalable web conferencing platform, presenters can reach audiences of all sizes. Live events and webinars are much more cost-effective when held online. Moreover, they can be enhanced with interactive features, from a live video feed to polling and surveying to boost engagement.

What is web conferencing best practices?

To get the most from a web conference, it’s prudent to follow these best practices:

  • Make it as easy as possible to participate from any device.
  • Create detailed or branded invitations to important events.
  • Chose a solution with well-documented security protections.
  • Take advantage of HD video and audio to make conferences more engaging.
  • Manage registrations, responses, and customer data for live events.
  • Use presenter controls and muting to keep online meetings on track.

Start Webex Meetings for free.


What is web conferencing software?

There are multiple Webex products, designed to cover the full spectrum of web conferencing usage scenarios. Learn more about the web conferencing market or by signing up for Webex Meetings free plan today.