slideshare_logo_2010.jpgNow, not only can you share your presentations on Slideshare (news, site), but you can also host a virtual meeting to discuss them.

Simple and Social Web Conferencing

Slideshare the company is referring to Zipcast as simple, fast and social web meetings. You would expect that to be true considering how easy it is to use Slideshare for storing and sharing presentations. Zipcast is a browser-based web conferencing solution with no pesky downloads to slow you down.

Even better, it's free if you are conducting public or private meetings. If want a little extra security though (via password protection), you can purchase a Slideshare Pro account starting at US$19 per month. If you have a Pro account and want a conference line, Slideshare has partnered with to provide free teleconference capabilities.

Zipcast is built on the new Web Sockets feature of HTML 5. You do have to tolerate a few ads with the public meetings, but it's pretty easy to turn them off (click the X).

Getting the Most Out of Your Meeting

If you don't have a Slideshare account, you can attend a meeting using your Facebook credentials (or you can create your own Slideshare account).

Zipcast_Beta.jpg Sample public Zipcast web conference

When you first enter a meeting you are invited to tweet that you have entered the conference. You can also share the meeting room link through email, instant message, Facebook or Twitter. The chat area gives you the option of posting chat messages to Facebook.

The presentation slides sit front and center, and the video runs off to the right (if you have video). Presentations can be up to 300MB in size and although the presenter controls the slides, you have the ability to move through them at your own pace.

You web meeting can be based on your own presentations or any of the publicly available ones already on Slideshare.

Currently Zipcast only supports a single person running the presentation and video, but there are plans in the roadmap to support multiple people conducting the meeting. There is also no scheduling capability.

A Cure for Web Meeting Blues

Zipcast is a nice solution to help you start your own webcasts or web meetings quickly. One click and an option to conduct either a public or a private web meeting is all it takes. Your conference is listed in the Zipcast activity stream shown on the Zipcast and Slideshare home pages so people you might now think to invite (or who aren't following you on Facebook or Twitter) can learn about it and join.

You can say this is a great service for SMBs, because it's free, but it's also a great opportunity for anyone who wants to share their ideas and views on pretty much any topic, and there is no limit to the number of participants. You are currently out of luck if you want to attend a meeting using your iPad as the video is Flash-based, but hopefully support for iOS will come soon.

Here's Robert Scoble's interview on the launch of Zipcast: