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.
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 software is invoked by all participants in a web meeting. Some technologies include software and functionality that differs for presenters and attendees. Software may run as a web browser application (often relying on Adobe Flash, Java, or WebRTC to provide the operational platform). Other web conferencing technologies require download and installation of software on each participant's computer, which is invoked as a local application. Many web conferencing vendors provide the central connectivity and provisioning of meeting "ports" or "seats" as a hosted web service, while others allow the web conference host to install and run the software on its own local servers. Another installation option from certain vendors allows for use of a proprietary computer appliance that is installed at the hosting company's physical location.
For example, if you’re hosting a webinar on how to use WordPress blogs, and participants are asking a lot about increasing traffic, you could position your email like this: “I’m getting a lot of questions about boosting traffic to your blogs, so I’m throwing in a bonus how-to guide which will be sold later for $97, but you’ll get it free if you act now.”
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.”