In general, web conferencing is made possible by Internet technologies, particularly on TCP/IP connections. Services may allow real-time point-to-point communications as well as multicast communications from one sender to many receivers. It offers data streams of text-based messages, voice and video chat to be shared simultaneously, across geographically dispersed locations. Applications for web conferencing include meetings, training events, lectures, or presentations from a web-connected computer to other web-connected computers.
Real-time text chat facilities such as IRC appeared in the late 1980s. Web-based chat and instant messaging software appeared in the mid-1990s. The PLATO computer learning system allowed students to collaborate on networked computers to accomplish learning tasks as early as the 1960s, but the early networking was not accomplished via the World Wide Web and PLATO's collaborative goals were not consistent with the presenter-audience dynamic typical of web conferencing systems. PLATO II, in 1961, featured two users at once.
Web conferencing technologies are not standardized, which has reduced interoperability and transparency and increased platform dependence, security issues, cost and market segmentation. In 2003, the IETF established a working group to establish a standard for web conferencing, called "Centralized Conferencing (xcon)". The planned deliverables of xcon include:
So instead of meeting with prospects one-on-one, and making dozens of presentations, a better option is to schedule a Webinar for each Wednesday night for example. Just invite your prospects and tell your team members to invite their prospects to the Webinar too. This way, you, as the best presenter gives the best live presentation, and answers questions. Then each person takes over, and talks to their own prospects and directs them to their web sites to sign them up or make the sale. It’s been done for years, and some of the top recruiters benefit greatly from online Webinars.
In February 1998, Starlight Networks released StarLive! (the exclamation point being part of the product name). The press release said "customers can access familiar Web browser interfaces to view live and pre-recorded corporate presentations, along with synchronized slides. End users can communicate directly with the presenter using real-time chat technology and other Web-based collaboration tools."
Customers know that private sessions allow them permission to ask endless questions and discuss their unique obstacles in a safe, constructive setting. You can build immense trust and loyalty through calls like this and transform customers into brand evangelists that double-duty as promotional machines for you. Thirty to 60-minute calls work great. You could even record these calls and repurpose them as products in the future. Cha-ching.
For the example above, this might sound like, “If you’re tired of people asking to pass you on the golf course, this product is for you. Imagine how it will feel when you start winning games, and accepting business golf match invitations, because you’re confident in your newfound golf game. This program can help you make steady improvement that you’ll begin seeing within a couple of rounds.”
Depending on the technology being used, participants may speak and listen to audio over standard telephone lines or via computer microphones and speakers. Some products allow for use of a webcam to display participants, while others may require their own proprietary encoding or externally provided encoding of a video feed (for example, from a professional video camera connected via an IEEE 1394 interface) that is displayed in the session.