Do time-worthy free webinars exist? Absolutely, fueling Skills Mastery. But spam cometh through thinly disguised funnels / infomercials. Avoidance clues follow.
Estimated Reading Time: 13 minutes
Why I Adore Quality Webinars
Any stranger to archery can grab a bow and arrow, take aim, and shoot. Likelihood of hitting the target? C’mon now, y’all know the answer.
One skilled in the craft comprehends the nuances of the bow, appreciates the pertinent aspects of the law of physics, and exudes knowledge pinpointing how to manipulate the bow. Result: bullseye hit, or close to it, every dang time.
I lack knowledge about the specific field underlying a 2018 goal. Absorbing books and articles push me further up the learning curve. But webinars, when offered by a committed pro in the field, provide wisdom’s nuggets —”in the trenches” lessons learned. The ultimate Cliff Notes! Oooo baby, I wants me summa dat!
As I learn, I conquer milestones, the bricks comprising my dream. My daily mission: don’t let my head hit the pillow without learning something new, relative to one of my umbrella goals.
Finding worthy webinars should be easy. But as my darlin’ Grandmother admonished, mantra-style, Baby girl, there’s many a slip between a cup and a lip.
The Latest Spam Venture: Webinar as Funnel
First, the Nigerian Prince muscled out real email with his incessant pleas for a funds transfer. The rise of Google and its spam filters gutted the varmint.
Next came the favored weapons of the M&M (Mental Midget) Crew: the #AutoDM (automated direct message), polluting the inboxes of most Twitterzens for years. Snail’s-pace Twitter finally found its stash of Raid, blasting the electronic cockroaches to a hellish bug haven.
But the I’s an expoit social media gurus, determined strangers to the concept of common sense, went digging in dem dere net hills o’ gold. Dusting off video technology, these human ticks latched onto the webinar format, converting a muscular positive into puny simpleton-friendly infomercials for the web.
Unlike the Nigerian dude and his clueless cousins still trampling Twitter (an ad masquerading as a @mention— really, Sherlock?!), a substantial number of folks and business entities DO offer free webinars bestowing valuable information. The problem: avoiding the phlegm disguised as gem.
Exhibit A: The Unpolished Funnel
The webinar started on time. 2.5 minutes later, I jumped ship. A ticker in the upper right corner attested to growing abandonment: 1632, gushing below 500. Among the reasons:
- near verbatim speech echoing the intro of other webinars
- the stilted nature of the presenter’s speech hallmarked script reading
- pronouncements putting the id in idiocy (“The World Wide Web is here to stay, no matter what people think.“)
Intense irritation sparked this blog post.
Funnels Competing with Worthy Webinars
Valuable substantive information lurks in webinar land, destined to delight the mind. But unlike 2-3 years ago, those hills now resemble needle in the haystack territory. Seek and ye shall find, but LawdHaMercy! —the find-it process tests one’s search prowess.
The Easy Clues Separating the Jerks from the Works of Smart
Webinar-focused apps grow like bellies at a Thanksgiving table. No need to take my word; each sports the ratings earned in the App Store.
1️⃣ GoToWebinar: THE Best, By any Definition
I have yet to encounter silliness with this app. The add-to-calendar link produces an entry eschewing the need for massaging. No hassles entering the show. Everything works, each time, with no hint of grief. All must bow to the polished prowess of GoToWebinar.
Bonus: I don’t “know” if GoToWebinar maintains a vetting process. I do know I’ve yet to encounter the no-clue crew when indulging webinars through this app.
Tip: If the webinar plays through (iOS) app GoToWebinar, you’re in for a treat. Be sure to save the event to gCal while at the site, via the convenient link. The app will pull that info, providing a listing. At the appointed time, tap on the webinar to join. No eMail addy needed. Strictly no-fuss entry, always.
2️⃣ Adobe Connect
Think Joe Cocker: ♫ What would ya do if I sang outta tune? Would ya stand up and walk out on me? ♫ You Joe, nope! This sorry excuse of an app? In a heartbeat.
Personal opinion rating: somewhere south of hideous & horrendous. Three times, I attempted access to three different webinars. Failed. Quick reminder: Adobe’s history includes Flash. Embrassed out of use, even Adobe eventually threw in the towel on that malware-embracing beast. I suspect this thing will meet the same fate.
This discussion ends here for one reason: I don’t allow myself to cuss on this website.
3️⃣ Others, so sad I’ve forgotten their names
Clue #1: When you tap the link to add to calendar, a screen informs the task can’t be accomplished.
Clue #2: The add to calendar link performs, but inserts a WEBINAR ALERT title. Always. Yep, screaming caps, telling us nadda. I appreciate outfits shouting DUMB at the onset. Saves time.
NonProfit-Sponsored Webinars: The Good News
Most webinars engineered by a nonprofit hit the quality info mark. Whether illuminating the essentials of creating and maintaining a visitor-focused website, the risks incurred with volunteers, how to construct a meaty newsletter, or ….., the principles conveyed translate well to standard for-profit scenarios. My notebooks overflow, courtesy of these generous groups.
NonProfit-Sponsored Webinars: The Bad News
A huge downside mirrors a problem witnessed with for-profit counterparts. Most interpret the registered eMail addy as an open door for ongoing correspondence. Many handle the largesse in an intelligent manner. Others bombard daily with money requests disguised as news you can use.
Another oops, borne either of ignorance or arrogance: some sign-up forms demand everything short of blood type. Understand: many nonprofits canvas, using eager college kids to spread the solicitation word. That eagerness may source in a cut of the funds pledged, a questionable ethical process, at best. How can you tell? Ask the kid at your door for the online donation address. If you get a song and dance, designed to open your wallet now, bingo! The kids don’t get a cut of online donations, but they do bite into at-door donations. Hence, the request for your snailmail address, etc.
Listen, this woman looooooves chocolate. But I don’t want anyone shoving a Milky Way under my nostrils day in day out. The ubiquitous unsubscribe link in such emails? Universal compliance lives next door to the dream for an honest politician. As for the phone number, Red Cross trained me to say no. Those clowns rang my phone at 9a.m. on serial Saturday mornings, until I fed them to Google Voice purgatory, i.e. spam folder.
The solution? My contacts include a special alias, used for such sign-ups. She lives at the same landfill address found via googling, with a phone number of 123-555-9999. Her email address comes from 33mail.com. Short version: y’all wanna play games? Cool, GirlFriend’s ready for ya.
To the webmasters: if one needs to scroll to get through the sign-up form, it’s too blankety-blank long! Please, go buy, rent, or borrow a clue, but get it!
The Underlying Basics of Poor “Webinars,” Gifting Unmistakable Clues
I’m a blessed woman, raised in old-school fashion. Among the admonitions conveyed during my toddler years:
Don’t tell me what everyone else is doin’! If ‘they’ told you to jump off a <deleted> bridge, would your dumb <deleted> follow the jack<deleted> off the <deleted> cliff???!
Yep, Mom employed colorful speech (no F bombs though). Much more important: the oft-repeated caution remains ensconced in my brain. Result: I analyze claims when made, especially where the speaker’s hand flirts with my wallet. The sheep following the Webinar-as-funnel model are too entranced with the lure of passive income to think through the need for a quality presentation. Result: transparent crap.
✦︎ Understand the Psychology of the Anchoring Effect
Anchoring looms large in pseudo-webinars. 1979 Nobel-prize winning research confirmed: predictable biases infect human decision making. Example: once an item is called to someone’s attention, subsequent similar items trigger comparison with that first item. The mind adores comparisons. The anchoring technique exploits this natural phenomenon. Think of a car lot, with the window sticker’s proclaimed price.
Our brains remain wired to keep the first item in a preferred position. It maintains that position throughout the decision-making process.
In the webinar world, presenting the heftiest priced version of a buy-this item explodes the senses. But a quick turn, spotlighting dramatically lower-priced counterparts, induces a giddy “bargain” mentality. You can hear someone talk AND gift you with “personal” presence for a grand; or, read alone and “struggle” for 20% of the nosebleed price. Anchoring, at work, presented too simplistically to miss.
✦︎ Acknowledge the Psychology of Now or Never
Fact: “humans crave consumption.” Witness the notorious impulse buy syndrome, indulged by most of us at one time or the other. Limited time elevates consumption-based emotions. Excess time encourages an active thought process which, in turn, dissipates the emotion-laden impulse buy. This psychological trick earmarks most marketing. The next time any entity insists some version of now or never, be aware of the manipulation game at play. Again, the lack of polish highlights the attempt, rather than the desired effect.
✦︎ Analyze the Advice of the “I be guru” crew.
Assorted self-styled gurus impart their alleged “expert” advice:
✦︎ send automated direct messages on Twitter to gain followers
- Users so loathed the AutoDM, slow-moving Twitter killed it outright a few months ago.
- Some amateur marketers, stubbornly clueless, now copy & paste the dredge. Cuz, you know, the guru said it’s great.
✦︎ be sure to unfollow all on Twitter to establish your reputation
- This procedue does indeed instill a reputation. To borrow from Mom: dumb<deleted>. More than a few writers follow the putrid drivel. A book sat on my wishlist, scheduled for purchase that weekend. During the interim the author joined this zero-out silly parade, triggering 3 results in domino fashion:
- Thought bubble: This guy lacks sufficient brain cells to pinpoint BS on sight, and I’m s’posed to believe his imagination can sustain an entire book? LOLOLOL
- I deleted the book from my cart.
- I called the friend who tendered the recommendation, aware of her intent to write a review “someday.” Once informed, she expressed thrills that the book landed in her hands during a freebie promo period. I’m told she passes on this Twitter-realized fact at every reading group she attends, whether virtual or brick-&-mortar. Yep, reputation of the think!-challenged writer —cemented.
✦︎ create a funnel system on your site to conjure untold riches
A significant number of people choose to vote for truth-challenged insecure oddities with the temperament of a me-obsessed 2-year-old. To paraphrase an unknown author, never underestimate the wide reach of pure gullibility.
- The same gullibility prompts some to hit a buy button, despite its exhorbitantly priced item. Capitalism lives, as does the lack of live-firing brain cells.
Witness the Funneling System In Action
You’re looking at a box of cold breakfast cereal. You want to pour the contents into an airtight container. You grab something with a wide-enough mouth to catch the contents as you pour, ending in a much narrower hole. Bingo, you prevented a mess.
Net funneling casts the wide lure of free valued information, adds a hefty dose of me-ism on steroids, and converts to gimme mode while striving to reel in your credit card.
✦︎ At the Infomercial-as-Webinar Site
You search for a free webinar tackling a precise subject. Google responds, transporting you to xyz website.
Clue #1: An ego wall greets you. You scroll down the screen to locate the first hint of substantive text.
Clue #2: ♫ Hammer time, ♫ courtesy of an oft-repeated declaration: Oh dear friend, what this webinar will do for you! Others tried abc, but I tell you xyz, what you REALLY need to know.
Clue #3: Your eyes morph into target practice as popunders obstruct your view. You’ll watch Popeye-style forearms grow as you mouse yourself silly trying to close each of the extreme irritants.
Clue #4: The webinar will disappppear in the near future, so act now.
Think: it’s a webinar, folks, comprised of electronic bits. Where the heck’s it gonna go?
✦︎ During the funnel-fest masquerading as a genuine webinar
Test my following assertions with a stopwatch in hand.
✧︎︎︎ 0:00 to the 12–20 minute mark:
The ain’t I grand section, complete with explicit I don’t say this to brag but protestations. This section typically includes: be sure to stick around for a special gift, available only to those who attend the FULL webinar.
Many times the opening questions tap only the obvious, to “impress” folks with pretend insight (e.g. Do you find yourself slacking off from time to time? Translation: humans sometimes chill, a phenomenon as predictable as breathing)
✧︎︎︎ the roughly 20 through 40-45 minute portion:
If luck is with you, a few nuggets of helpful info arise from the muck. More polished hosts provide a sequence of informational Wheaties, each bowl explicitly numbered during the presentation. This is the part rationalizing time expenditure in attending the webinar.
My habit: the webinar plays in the background —with sound— via a webinar-focused iPad app, as I perform administrative chores. This breaks my usual single-task preference. If and when the presenter proves worthy of my full attention, I give it.
Some presenters wield genuine heavyweight credentials, with a website once overflowing with frequently updated high quality content. But somewhere along the line, perspective changed —from give to take— with a vengeance. Sorta like a Jekyll and Hyde transformation, courtesy of straight-up hucksterism. That huckster vibe blossoms full force throughout the last quarter of the hour.
✦︎ Recognize an Invitation to a Would-Be Money-Grab Landing Page
This final section of the webinar begins:
‘Membah when I said there’s a special gift for those who remain to the end? I’ll unveil those specifics shortly, so sit tight.
During the interim, you’re introduced to a unique product offered by this unique presenter per his/her unique qualifications for your unique enjoyment on this unique day at this unique time for a unique price.
Close to the end an url kidnaps the screen, where a promised free PDF awaits your download. At the end, another url appears. Many times, they are one and the same.
The price may be conveyed in an upfront manner at the end of the webinar. The presenter unveils a product, effecting a naked homage to the anchoring technique. Others play hide and seek with the price. In both cases the host, like a drill, verbally whirls the url repeatedly as it sits emblazoned on screen. (Litigation attorneys know: repeating a statement at least 3 times increases the odds of the jury’s retention. Part of our training.)
The given link transports you to a landing page, doing all in its power to coerce carpal tunnel syndrome. Curious, you start reading. Screen after screen after screen ad nausem insists, through reviews and more, you’re in next best thing to sliced bread territory. Cuz, ya know, unique!
25 screens down the same page (ok, I exaggerate. 23.5 screens.), your retinas finally lock on the price. Typical reaction: surely there’s a missed decimal point, somewhere. But wait, there’s more! You’ve noticed only the first in serial prices. This initial price includes —wait for it— personal attention from the presenter. Hey! Only for a limited time, like, tomorrow night. Well now, isn’t that special. Recall: the anchoring technique.
Different presenters. Same techniques. I smell the handiwork of the guru crew, again.
Lessons Learned from Free Webinar Listings
1️⃣ Not every webinar host plays slave to greed.
It warrants repetition: As a general rule, nonprofit organizations, following their central serve! mission, provide golden information. You achieve the goal you established in attending that webinar: secure a nuanced understanding of a precise subject.
2️⃣ Facebook-advertised webinars merit avoidance, with limited exceptions.
My experience → ignore. From English as an almost third language (with gibberish as the second), to ridiculous cussing, to requisites demanding a Facebook-group signup, to points in-between, dredge greeted me. Result: unless I see a non-profit organization, school, or well-established entity as the webinar originator → pass.
3️⃣ Bother with the hunt, because it’s worth it.
Any dream worthy of the label requires leaving one’s comfort zone. The good stuff lives in the neighborhood where For Dummies books shout my name. I don’t know the nuances, an uncomfortable fact triggering and nurturing fear. Conquering that fear requires learning those nuances. Folks breathing day day out in the field possess wisdom, passed on as tidbits during quality webinars. The nuances conveyed fuel mastery of new skills, further muting fear and its BFF —Poindexter, my inner critic dude.
Ain’t no way Imma empower a bunch of self-impressed nitwits to block my path to the mega stash.
YouTube: seek and ye WILL find
Those dedicated to arranging a shotgun marriage, between their hands and your wallet, toss up 5 to 10 minute videos. That’s a heckuva hint of a Donkey Dust Zone.
Not every 1hr+ video proves worthy of my time. But so many do, YouTube strolled into position as my #2 favorite hunting ground. (#1? TedTalks.)
Most weekends witness my Skills Mastery webinar searches. Even in the face of irritating disappointments before striking gold, I’ve confirmed my determination to pull off xyz goal. Goal → new techniques/information → learn → master ← leave comfort zone. I locate so many true goodies, I seek more. Win, win.
The hunt missions, tapping Twitter, Google, Bing, and others provide what I crave within minutes. 30 minutes a week, devoted to such excursions, proves a small price to pay. How? I’ve trained my nose to sniff out pretenders to the info-rich throne.
Call to Action
A new year inspires. Reminder: tomorrow presents an equally new vista, as does tonight. If you’re serious about ushering a genuine dream into reality, a steep learning curve awaits you. Hey, if there ain’t no learning curve, your dream’s too small. Just sayin’. Quality webinars provide a knowledge path, one step at a time.
My bullet journal Collections area includes pages devoted exclusively to Skills Mastery, a primary category appearing in most days’ dual time blocks. I plan. I learn. I move closer to realizing my heart’s desire.