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Also known as desktop sharing, screen sharing is the ability to allow others within secure connection to view the current contents of a computer desktop. Remote desktop access of this particular type is often helpful in web conference applications, since it allows a moderator or conference leader to allow other attendees to view the document or presentation that the leader is currently displaying on his or her desktop. Screen sharing makes it possible to display the desktop and also conduct what is known as a guided web tour, allowing other people to watch as the conference moderator browses different websites or even demonstrates the functionality of a search engine.
Screen sharing is somewhat different from other forms of application sharing, in that attendees normally do not have to download or cache any files prior to the beginning of the web conference. Typically, all that is required is an Internet connection and login credentials to attend the online conference. Depending on the conference platform that is used, there may be some limitations on the versions of different browsers that are compatible. This means that attendees may have to upgrade to a newer version of a given browser in order to participate in the screen sharing portion of the meeting.
One of the benefits of screen sharing is that the host or moderator does not have to forward files or instructions to download presentations in advance of the meeting. Hosts can work on the content of a presentation right up to the start time of the conference, making it easy to manage any last-minute refinements that come to mind. This can be especially important when the subject matter for the web conference is some type of developing situation that the company faces, or information relevant to the meeting does not reach the host until the very last minute.
While screen sharing is an extremely helpful web conferencing tool, it is important to remember that during the course of the meeting, attendees can see everything that is displayed on the host’s desktop. While some screen sharing tools include a feature that makes it possible to block all but one portion of the desktop from viewing, most designs allow attendees to see the total desktop just as the host sees the display area. This makes it very important for the host or leader to close email boxes and any other files that are not relevant to the subject matter of the meeting. Doing so minimizes the chances of accidentally displaying something that is not appropriate for the meeting and possibly embarrassing the leader or any of the attendees.