omNovia announced a new feature addition to its Webinar Pro product today. A webinar moderator can check each presenter's webcam feed and audio line before turning it on for the audience. The functionality is optionally enabled under the moderator's control as a part of the product's existing "AV Remote Control" feature.
The way things had worked previously (and still work in most webinar products) is that the moderator or presenter can turn on a video feed, but as soon as it is on, everyone sees the image. This has resulted in embarrassment for more than one unprepared presenter!
Results don't have to be as dramatic as seeing undressed bodies or people picking their noses… It can be as simple as the moderator needing to tell the presenter that s/he is out of focus, out of frame, or poorly lit. Or my most common complaint, that they need to put their laptop on a stack of books so the built-in camera isn't shooting up into their nostrils.
Why don't more webinar technologies include this functionality? I'm not saying omNovia is the only vendor to include the capability, but they are part of a vanishingly small minority.
Of course if you aren't working with a moderator or if your moderator doesn't want to take on the additional role of a multi-camera TV producer, you can default back to the easier but more dangerous behavior of "on means on" for all participants.
Good stuff and highly appreciated. I'll be using this with my clients.