Slideshare just introduced a new feature called zipcasting. This lets you live broadcast your slides with audio and video from within Slideshare, either publicly or to an unlimited number of invited participants.

The core features offered in a zipcast are probably the ones needed for most live presentations/slidecasts. One-way broadcast of slides, video and audio by the presenter to participants. They can watch, listen, (text) chat and have some individual control the slides they are viewing. As Slideshare has a freemium model, there are a few additional pro features – password protection, removal of ads and a conference call number so participants can add their voice to the conversation.

Even with the pro features, it’s not really a competitor with the more sophisticated web conferencing systems out there like Elluminate and Big Blue Button. It lacks the features they offer for administration, moderation and recording and it still needs to prove it’s reliability. However, I can see this working well enough to just deliver a live, remote presentation over the web, a use case that will suit many people where other systems can be a bit of a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

Avoiding feature bloat can have advantages. It has a relatively clean interface and is pretty simple to use. To start a meeting, from any presentation click Zipcast, select public or private and then invite an unlimited number of people to join via a custom URL. Participants are required to sign in, either with a Slideshare account or via Facebook, which may be a barrier to consider for public events.

(In case it isn’t obvious, the red bars aren’t part of the interface. They’re to protect the identity of the people who unexpectedly turned my quick test into an impromptu live presentation – explaining why I look a little uneasy on the webcam! ;-))

Interestingly, you’re not restricted to broadcasting just your own presentations either, but can use any public presentation. That could turn more of us from participants into presenters and lead to some interesting (re)interpretations of the ideas expressed in other people’s slides.

Zipcasting worked pretty well when I tried it, though this was just as a test, rather than for real. It will be interesting to see if this starts being used in preference to some of the alternative systems and approaches out there for online presentations. It certainly is good to have another option available.

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