I now did a few online webinars and I found it a great way to connect live with an audience without the need to travel, and without the requirement to get a large group of people together in one physical location.

Having said that, the experience from the presenter point of view is far from optimal. You are talking into a microphone, staring at your screen without any feedback. Here are some suggestions to make better webinar software and make the webinar experience a bit closer to that of a live presentation.
  1. Avatars. Encourage people to upload avatars when joining a webinar as an audience member, and more importantly, have these avatars show up on the presenter’s computer. In that way you get a sense of a real audience in front of you. I am sure as technology progresses it would be possible to create a virtual audience shot of live video avatars
  2. Kill presenter distractions. Applications that I use show statistics of people online, people leaving, people joining, people that are active, versus people that are checking their email in another browser window. Some applications require the presenter to let people into the session during the presentation. This information is useful, but there should be a way to switch it off, enabling the presenter to focus on her story. In real life, the presenter on stage does not need to open the back door to let someone back in to the room.
  3. Find a better way to moderate questions. At the moment, questions get punched into a small chart window. There is a constant flow of information, and chart windows are too small to be able to read the text. In a real live presentation setting, people do not shout their questions at the presenter all at the same time. There should be a 2-stage process: 1 audience members need to indicate that they want to ask a question, then the presenter need to give them the floor, and only then can the question be asked. Either through a live voice, or through a text box that has big fonts and can easily be read by everyone.
I hope these points get picked up by software developers, the one who incorporates them definitely has an opportunity to stand out from the competition.

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