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.
In May 1995, PictureTel announced LiveShare Plus as a general-use data collaboration product for Windows-based personal computers. The software allowed application sharing, user-granted control of a remote PC, shared whiteboard markup, file transfer, and text messaging. List price was given as $249 per computer. PictureTel referenced an agreement with Microsoft in its announcement press release, and a May 26, 1995 memo from Bill Gates to Microsoft executive staff and direct reports said "Our PictureTel screen sharing client allowing Window sharing should work easily across the Internet."
In April 1999, Vstream introduced the Netcall product for web conferencing as "a fee-based Internet software utility that lets you send business presentations and other graphic information via e-mail to a Vstream server. Vstream converts the content, again using streaming technology, and makes the presentation available for viewing by up to 1,200 people at a time." Vstream changed the company name to Evoke Communications in 2000, with a further change to Raindance Communications in 2002. In February 2006, Raindance was acquired by the InterCall division of West Corporation.
In 1992, InSoft Inc. launched Communique, a software-based Unix teleconferencing product for workstations that enabled video/audio/data conferencing. Communique supported as many as 10 users, and included revolutionary features such as application sharing, audio controls, text, graphics, and whiteboarding which allowed networked users to share and manipulate graphic objects and files using simple paint tools.
The term "webcast" derives from its original similarity to a radio or television broadcast. Early usage referred purely to transmission and consumption of streaming audio and video via the World Wide Web. Over time, webcast software vendors have added many of the same functional capabilities found in webinar software, blurring the distinction between the two terms. Webcasts are now likely to allow audience response to polls, text communication with presenters or other audience members, and other two-way communications that complement the consumption of the streamed audio/video content.
To attract more participants, you can start from some free webinars for certain times. Once you can get webinars well prepared, run webinars interactively and show the great value of your webinar, more and more participants will be willing to pay for your entire webinars and then it's a good chance to create paid webinars to monetise your expertise.
Don’t feel you need to do a weekly series. A monthly series works just fine, though twice a month is a nice middle ground. And if your schedule is too busy (and let’s be honest, of course it is…), then use a webinar platform like EverWebinar to host an automated webinar. You won’t even need to be there. Heck, you could be kicking it in Belize with a Pina Colada, watching the sales roll in while your webinar is running without you.
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.”
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