I don't ever answer the question "Which webinar product is best?" It is a meaningless question without a lot of extra qualifiers and priority choices that differ from user to user. Some people place a higher value on low price, some on ease to learn, some on audio quality, some on video quality, some on reporting, some on integrations with other products, and so on without end.
One potential priority that doesn't get considered enough on those lists is "How flexible is your webinar technology?" Does the platform dictate what kind of content and interactions are possible, or does it support whatever a user wants to do?
You may have a good idea of the kinds of webinars and types of content you typically work with. But I guarantee you that at some point in the future you'll invite a guest speaker who will want to include something that surprises you. Will you have to tell them, "Sorry… You can't do that. Change your content to match the limitations of our software" ?
Here are just a few of the many areas where webinar technologies vary in flexibility:
1) PowerPoint, Keynote, Prezi - If your webinar product shows the presenter's screen through screen sharing, you're fine. But if it relies on an upload/conversion step for slides, you can bet that it only handles PowerPoint. Any other content will need an intermediate conversion to PowerPoint format.
2) Slide Animations and Transitions - If your webinar software converts uploaded slides, does it retain animated effects? If your product uses screen sharing, is it fast and smooth enough to reliably show smooth motion effects to participants? Test this on a mobile phone or other wireless internet connection that is prone to speed drops and network congestion. You can be sure that your vendor's QA group tests on hard-wired Ethernet connections in their office.
3) Live Video - Can your webinar product show video of a presenter? Can it show multiple presenters at the same time? Is there any control (on the host side or attendee side) over positioning and size of the video versus other content? Is the video captured in the recording along with the rest of the content?
4) Video Clips - Can you show prerecorded video content to attendees? Can you show a video directly off a web page or video portal like YouTube, or do you need to have a local video file on your computer? Can the software show video content that is embedded on a PowerPoint slide? Is video clip playback included in the recording?
5) Audio Clips - Can you play an MP3 or WAV file with audio during your webinar? Can attendees hear it if they are listening on telephone? Is it included on the recording?
6) Audio Connections - Can presenters choose whether to use computer audio or telephone? Can you "mix and match" or do all presenters have to choose the same type of audio connection in order to avoid lags between speakers? Can audience members choose whether to listen via computer or telephone? Are telephone numbers available globally? Can people on telephone hear audio from a video clip?
7) Typed Chat/Q&A - Does the software allow moderated vs. public chat? Can you change modes during a session? Can a host delete individual messages? Can presenters flag messages to facilitate handling?
8) Emails - Can a host control all content in emails that go out to participants? Can you elect how many reminders to send and when they go out? Can you send separate "thank you" and "sorry we missed you" post-event emails?
9) Polls - Can you ask both "select one answer" and "select all that apply" questions? Is there a limit on the number of answer choices you can offer?
10) Interactive Web Pages - Can you display a web page for attendees that each person can interact with (for example, to fill out a form)?
11) Attendee Microphone Control - Can a host mute and unmute attendee microphones to allow presentation mode vs vocal interaction? Can attendees speak on computer mikes and telephone? Is there a lag between those two audio channels?
12) Secure Meetings - Can your webinar software provide individual links for each registered attendee, with only one login per person allowed?
This is just a quick representative list that is in no way comprehensive. But it covers the areas where I most frequently run into frustrations when working with clients who expect to be able to do whatever they can imagine and are surprised when I have to tell them that their webinar software makes it difficult, impractical, or impossible.
More flexibility often goes hand in hand with more expensive webinar software. It costs manufacturers more in R&D and quality assurance to implement, test, and maintain all those options across different computer platforms. It often results in a steeper learning curve as well, since administrators and presenters have to learn the nuances involved in setting options and configuring a session. But if you support lots of different types of web sessions or work with many different presenters, it's nice to have the comfort of knowing that you can accommodate them rather than forcing them to adjust to your technology.