The waste-of-time webinar

As technology evolves, people always find new ways to make money off it. Don't know how to use Twitter? Come learn in our free webinar! Wanna maximize your presence on Facebook? This free webinar is just for you! Somewhere along the line, the word "webinar" has taken on a negative connotation for me. Although, I suppose it's not the webinar idea itself that needs fixing; it's many of the people who offer them.

Since I've been laid off, I've had the time to participate in several free webinars. I'm always eager to learn something new, so what the heck? Each time, I am woefully disappointed in the content (and after today's useless webinar, I will never waste my time again). It's always the same ole' drill: present some information that a first-grader would know, and then after an hour, hit up the audience for the $500 to $1,000 system. Like with most things, it's all about marketing. I don't suppose too many people would sign up for something that was promoted as a a bunch of garbage with a sales pitch thrown in at the end.

But, here's what gets me. People always seem to tweet about how great it was! They put comments up on the organizers' Facebook walls, gushing about how valuable the information was and how these people are such gurus. Are you kidding me? Are these simpletons really impressed with a few slides that are nothing more than common sense? Surely, people can't be that gullible and easily to please, can they?

Yes, I know there are folks out there who offer quality webinars (and to them, know that this is not directed at you). However, the good ones are outnumbered by the people who are misrepresenting the content in their presentations. Don't make a big deal of saying you're giving away your best content for free, because you aren't.

Is anyone with me? Can I get an Amen?

13 comments:

  1. Amber,

    I riffed on your post over on Webinar Wire:
    http://ow.ly/ZcVD

    There is a community of us trying desperately to advocate best practices and make webinars less odious for you and the rest of us. It can be an uphill slog, but thanks for helping to put an honest call for action out there!

    Ken Molay

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  2. Dear Ken,

    Thanks so much for your comment and seeing my post as worthy of a riff! How awesome!

    I guess it all boils down to truth in advertising. Yes, there's a sucker born every minute--but I am not one of them. Treat me with respect and I will treat you the same.

    Thanks so much for lending credibility to my rant and for seeing some value in my opinion.

    By the way, the link you posted shows as broken. So, everyone, check out Ken's post here:

    http://www.webinarwire.com/posts/2010/1/21/webinars-a-waste-of-time

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  3. Hi Amber:

    I just got off the phone with someone and we discussed this very topic. There seems to be a lot of "gurus" out there taking advantage of us jobseekers. Everyone has an opinion, but they are selling their's as God's Gospel Truth and it just isn't.

    I share your enthusiasm for learning and have "attended" many a webinar in my months of job searching, and I find that even the biggest names and most "Hurry up because we always "sell" out!" folks are some of the flat out worst. I've met some of them in person and they are great people, but they don't know that their "expertise" they are sharing comes across as a schizophrenic mess, or more imporantly, I've already heard it all before.

    Net-net: AMEN, sister!

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  4. Teresa: Thanks for your comment. I completely agree with you. I, too, have met some of these people and they are nice. I just don't think they realize they come off as snake oil salesmen. But, again, if the webinar attendees are dullards and rave about the value of the presentation, they are just as much to blame.

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  5. I suspect a lot of those folks who give high praise to these useless webinars are friends and lackeys of the presenter...somewhat akin to all those great book reviews on Amazon.

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  6. I signed up for my first webinar a couple of days ago (scheduled for Jan. 26th). I've been invited to a few here and there, but have never participated in one before. I assumed it would be much like attending most of the seminars I've attended, with self-proclaimed gurus telling me things I already know. I hope I'm wrong.

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  7. Tina: I suspect you are right in that a few people are "plants" who seed the internet with praise. I also sometimes wonder if people send positive comments to be noticed by the presenters. "Hey, I said something nice about you! Be my friend! Notice me!"

    Marianne: I hope your webinar is an exception to the rule and offers some good tips and guidance. There are people out there who know how to do it right; just not enough. And, yes, it's the self-proclaimed gurus who are frequently the LEAST effective!

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  8. Yet another great post, Amber!

    I like to think of social media as the newest version of the "Wild West" with the self appointed experts playing the roles of snake oil salespeople. I'm constantly amazed at how people can just call themselves experts and 90% of everybody else just says "Awesome! We've got an expert!"

    Hope you are doing well. Keep up the great writing.

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  9. Tom: Thanks for being such a consistent commenter. I truly appreciate it.

    I think your Wild West analogy is spot on! And you're right, oddly, people do seem to express relief when they have a self proclaimed expert or guru to lean on. Perhaps it boils down to laziness. I don't know, but I am sincerely baffled by how easily people are impressed.

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  10. Amber, great post. Webinars are the tip of the iceberg. There is an entire cottage industry devoted to taking money away from the unemployed and under-employed with the promise of that secret that will kick start your income stream. It's really shameful.

    As a webinar producer, I've moderated some webinars that were fantastic and others that I was disappointed to be associated with. Ken Molay is right on the money that responsible folks in the "webinar industry" need to set standards and stick to them.

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  11. Matt,

    Thank you for your great comment. I think you and Ken need to be the saviors of the webinar industry. You are indeed correct. Many of these webinar producers do rely on business from the naive and/or unemployed. There definitely needs to be standards to ensure quality and ethics.

    Thank you very much for sharing your opinion on the matter. I always appreciate smart contributions to the conversation!

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  12. I absolutely agree with you. But this practice isn't strictly limited to webinars. There are TONS of events (even some with hefty ticket prices) where the presenters rush through their "best tips," make sure to let me know that they can't fit it all in because it's only a 90 minute consultation, but oh yes! I can sign up for their $10,000 a year coaching package and they have PLENTY of time to tell me all about it.

    I'm so over it...so so over it. And now that I've seen all these people chatting each other up all over the web, I've quickly learned that the people giving the raving reviews are either a) total newbies to the subject (whatever that subject might be) or b)friends/fans/clients of the person. Obvsiouly, good for the newbies for getting something out of it (I mean that). But the rest....pffft.

    That's why I'm in a tough place right now. I plan to get a monthly teleseminar series going and REALLY give away the information I say I'm going to give. No sales pitches, no gimmicks. But at this point, I wonder if people are burned out on all the garbage that's been flung at us. I hope not. Don't spoil it for us good ones, people!

    And honestly, the coaches and "experts" I've chosen to work with are the ones that helped me right away and really showed me they knew what the heck they were doing and that they connected with me. They didn't sales pitch me to death or tell me they couldn't give me any answers unless I was part of their "VIP circle."

    I'm rambling at this point, but anyway, thanks for the post!

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  13. Alaia: I absolutely love everything you've said here and couldn't agree more! You didn't ramble in the least; you bring up some really excellent points.

    Best of luck with your teleseminar series. You obviously are part of the solution, and not the problem, so I'll be happy to support your new venture in whatever way I can.

    Thank you so much for taking the time to leave such a thoughtful comment. I really appreciate hearing your point of view on the subject!

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