Snoop, Doggie! The Power of Recon

bad powerpoint slides

Yes, this is an *actual* slide from the webinar I attended last night. And they read…everything.

Last night, I endured the most painful two hours of my life: I attended a shitty webinar. Before you get all up in my grill about being able to leave at any time and go sort through spider webs in my basement, here’s the thing:it was recon.

Are YOU doing recon? Well, you need to be. I teach webinars on a regular basis and I’m always hip to see what others are presenting on a myriad of topics. Especially those I teach. I’m not above learning a trick or two from someone else to add value to my sessions, and it takes some legwork to gather as much information as you can – no matter how painful the process might be.

One of my followers tweeted this morning that there’s a special place in hell for people who read slides verbatim from Powerpoint presentations. With this, I agree. They deserve to be roasted over a spit filled with burning copies of every shitty eBook ever printed out for your reading pleasure. (Shitty eBooks are another post entirely.) So today, we’re chatting about the power of recon any why you’re a Failasaurus Rex if you’re not indulging.

Snoop, Doggie

Here’s something I’ve learned in my 37.75 years: everyone does stuff differently. So why would I not want to learn about how other people do things? There’s not a day where I don’t want to smash my Droid X with a hammer and I rely (heavily) on my audience to guide me through this torture device held over from the Spanish Inquisition. Your business deserves your legwork, and that involves recon.

Last night’s webinar presented 20 minutes worth of information over ONE HOURS AND FIFTY-THREE MINUTES (omfg), but I scored one gem. And oh yeah, am I gonna use it. I kept the audio going in the background and worked in other windows, popping back in when something seemed interesting. What pisses me off is that when I sign up for a webinar, I expect a one-hour format. Don’t fuck with my mojo (especially at 7pm) and slide into a two-hour format without telling me! Sorry – ranting. Even this morning I’m a bit pissed about it. back to the value of recon.

Here’s a list of things you can learn by doing recon – and you need to learn to love them.

  • What others are doing WRONG: two-hour webinars, crappy slide formatting, reading slides verbatim, overzealous backslapping between the presenters…the list goes on. Find comfort in the crappiness of other people’s presentations and use them as a reminder when designing your own.
  • What others are doing RIGHT: there are folks out there who give good webinar. Good stage. Great keynote. Learn from them. Embrace their success and find ways to emulate it.
  • New strategies: Yeah, you might be a master of your domain, but someone else has built a throne using something you’ve never seen before. Find out what it is. Whether it’s a trick to lowering your ad spend in Facebook to third-party apps for account management, you’ve got a lot to learn. In my day to day, I love letting other people drive (literally), because they inevitably take turns that I would not. I resist the urge to say, “Why aren’t you taking 17th?” and just sit back and watch. Absorb. Drive me, bitch! I wanna learn!
  • How to NOT waste people’s time: when doing recon for your business, you have to think about two audiences: your target audience and the people just like you. Other business owners in a similar vein. Smart business people watch, make notes, learn and then emulate the best. Dumb ones think they’re the best and have no more to learn. Build your shop (virtual or concrete) so that it doesn’t waste people’s time. Last night’s webinar was a colossal waste of my time (and even more time than I’d planned) and a valuable example of what NOT to do, as I never want to keep a shop like that.

And now, I’ll give you the If You Do This, You’ll Be Featured in a Bitch Slap list:

  • Time: Don’t invite me to an event that YOU say lasts one hour and then drag it out over two. I hate you to infinity.
  • Protocol: I can read. I don’t need you to read slides to me. Isolated incidents are acceptable (especially when it comes to explaining stats), but I’ve got some schoolin’. Don’t treat me like a child. GUIDE ME.
  • Smarm: I get it. Free webinars have a “sell” attached to them. There’s a right way (the HubSpot way) and a wrong way (the smarm) to do it. If your presentation hasn’t shown me why I should buy what you’re selling, the shitty ass ShamWow approach isn’t going to either. Spare me.
  • Vague is Bullshit: Do not explain to me how something is revolutionary without telling me WHY. I get that webinars, panels and keynotes are a strategic ways to boost your credibility, but there are ways to deliver solid, actionable, inspiring content without being a baiting assmunch. I hate vague, I don’t use it in my presentations, and if you’re so afraid to drop knowledge without a price tag, you need to go back to Business 101 and understand the value of free. Don’t expect things for free, but find what you’re comfortable sharing with a price tag of $0 attached. If it’s an itchy concept for you, here’s a Pro Tip: don’t do anything for free. Simple!

That is all I have for today – go forth and snoop, doogie. Your business stands to gain and I’m gonna bet you’ll learn a trick or two in the process.

26 comments
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Leon Noone
Leon Noone

G'Day Erika, Oh dear! Tragedy is the quality of instruction on the web is generally lousy. Worse still, the perpetrators of this instructional garbage think they're doing nothing wrong. They simply don't know what they don't know. Web presenters seem to be OK at telling us what to do but hopeless at telling us how to do it. I sometimes think that I should ask to see their objectives. Then it dawns on me that they don't have any. And poor old PowerPoint. It must be the most savagely abused visual aid system ever invented. I think recon's a great idea. But the price on our curiosity isn't worth the dividend most of the time. Anyway; do you think I'm getting the hang of this bitchslap caper? If so, it's all because of this fabulous instructor....... Regards Leon

Shelly
Shelly

Recon... What a novel idea... and I mean that as a DUH... because well I KNOW that... and I haven't DONE that... are you sure this isn't a bitch slap??? LOL

Shelly
Shelly

I just posted that and my 'time' came up in another language... German? Swedish?? I have no idea - but cool.... #EasilyAmused

The Redhead
The Redhead

You mean...wait. You're telling me that social media isn't NEW? It's not INNOVATIVE?! Shit, shit, shit...off to edit a webinar slide. ;-) Go buy the boots, and I think YOUR first webinar should be called "The Badass Boots Guide to Keeping Your Money and Making More." Thanks for stopping by today, Rusti!

Rusti
Rusti

I'm new to SM, and evidently I"m a bit of a sucker. As in sucked into a vortex of webinars and e- everythings... I know that when my Mastercard bill shows up in my inbox, I'm gonna do more than just throw up a little in my mouth. So reading your stabby tweets (with the audio of MY latest webinar purchase bleating in the background), I was dying of curiousity - and dread. Uh oh, were we both on the same webinar? I was half hoping you would write a revealing bitch slap post about it, so I'd know for sure. Or is it best not to know? Gotta tell ya tho, the recon" really threw me. RECON???? Is that like SOBCON? Did I miss another...0oooh, RE-con, I get it. Evidently I'm a sucker AND fairly slow. But that's ok, cuz with all I've learned from my webinars, apparently I'm going to be very rich, very soon, working 4 hours a day. So, before the Mastercard cooled off, I went out and bought me some kickass boots. Think I"ll feature them on my first webinar. P.S. From the slide, we weren't on the same webinar...however, mine turned out to be a re-hash of material I taught live, old-school about a decade ago presented as tho it was an SM invention.

Marian Schembari
Marian Schembari

Funny thing happened last weekend. I held a workshop with an author friend of mine at the London Screenwriter's Festival. We talked for FOUR HOURS on social media basics for writers/producers/etc. The fucking committee gave us a fancy projector and podium and everything. It blew chunks. Mostly because it looked like we were preaching and we got nervous. Our slides were pretty bad ass and there wasn't a ton of text to read anyway, but we did the presentation the way it was supposed to be done. We followed the format, we didn't deviate, we finished within the allotted time. It SUCKED. BALLS. Two days later we gave the exact same presentation in the basement of the bar. The project failed so us and our ten authors huddled around my computer on the couches and my friend and I just ended up talking for 2 hours about social media. No script, no notes, we went over by half an hour and it ROCKED. Informal, yes. Completely unprofessional location and inability to deal with technology, yes. But we knew our shit and it showed. Too many times I see presenters/teachers sticking to the script and not having any fun. I think the best presentations are fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of affairs and the more I do my own workshops the more I realize it's okay.

The Redhead
The Redhead

I hear you loud and clear. Personally, once I build my preso, I'm done. Let the monkeys fly where they may!

Brenda Stoltz
Brenda Stoltz

Wow. Wow. Wow. That is pretty bad. I try to keep my slides to either screenshots and title or a smaller screenshot with hopefully no more than 3 of the most important points. The rest is presentation, baby! You gotta listen to me. That's what you're paying for, not to read a book or worse, have me read it to you. And yep, recon is da bomb. The more I learn, the more I learn how much I don't know. Great slap!

Sara
Sara

I need help. Desperately. I was tweetslapped for my preso earlier this week, and want to up my game. Dear Red... if isolated incidents are acceptable when explaining stats... do you have any ideas (other than charts and graphs) for "better than acceptable?" And, what about the key "soundbites" that you want the audience to walk away with... those, I've historically, used in text in slides (sparingly... I mean, a couple per presentation). Not everyone is an audio-based learner... what about those few key points that you want to spoon feed? I've done it via illustrations, which is perhaps most effective... but any thoughts on how to? PS... Ike... I'm pulling up amazon.com right now... thanks for the book recs...

The Redhead
The Redhead

Here are my thoughts on presentations using slides: They're keynote speeches with graphic support. The meat should be YOUR WORDS with the slides used as (1) headlines to highlight concepts, (2) key graphics to support your case, and (3) some levity. I'd skip soundbites - they can fail and you don't want to struggle with technology. Saying that you're quoting people is just as effective as playing a clip IMHO. I like to use pictures, images and screen shots to support my presos. Big words are also effective. But key for me is keeping the slides simple and your WORDS powerful.

Alex
Alex

Good stuff, there Red. I really need to step up my presentation game, so I will be snoopin'.

Jeff Harbert
Jeff Harbert

Reading from slides = a complete waste of my time. I know how to read, thanks. Kindly send me an email instead. If that's all a presenter can do, I leave if I have the option of doing so. I want information, not to be captivated by the sound of their voice. That said, I completely agree that recon is invaluable. There's a lot to be learned by sizing up... I almost said your competition, but really, there's a ton to be learned from people & companies outside your space, too.

The Redhead
The Redhead

Excellent point regarding companies outside your space. Man, I learn so much from other businesses it's ridiculous! Thanks for throwing that into the mix, Jeff.

The Redhead
The Redhead

Yes, I'm not a fan of the, "Who has a penis? WOW-that's small!" approach to effective presenting.

Ike Pigott
Ike Pigott

There is moist peanut dust on my keyboard. Don't ask.

Ike Pigott
Ike Pigott

Erika, go pick up three books:1) The Story Factor, by Annette Simmons. ANYONE who does a presentation has to first understand the principles of storytelling.2) slide:ology, by Nancy Duarte. It's the New Testament for Powerpoint as far as I'm concerned.3) resonate, by Nancy Duarte. For those occasions when you're allowed to NOT use Powerpoint, or think beyond it for total visual impact.

Ike Pigott
Ike Pigott

...or, if you'd rather, I can distill the key ideas from all three and share them with you for the low, low price of $1,997. Think about it! Purchasing all three from Amazon, with two-day shipping, would cost you a whopping $80. Why go to all that trouble, and engage on all that time-consuming reading, when I can give you everything you need to know from those volumes in a simple six-hour workshop. Call now, and as an added bonus, I'll give you a signed copy of each of the three books just for attending! (For an extra fee, you'll get the author's signature instead of mine.)

The Redhead
The Redhead

I *will* Bitch Slap you, Ike ;-) However, this IS an excellent point regarding the price people pay for information that's readily available - you just have to know where to look!

The Redhead
The Redhead

Oh, you've cost me at least 3 cans of Fresca in the past six weeks. Don't sell yourself short. ;-)

Ike Pigott
Ike Pigott

By my tally, I have cost you at least 1-1/2 cans of Fresca in the last six weeks, purely through laughter-induced spewage. My goal was 2, so I have clearly failed in that regard, and am deserving of a slap. Be glad that Fresca is sugar-free, and is therefore less likely to gum up your keys.

The Redhead
The Redhead

GREAT resources, Ike - thanks for sharing here :)

The Redhead
The Redhead

Awesome thoughts, Tim! And #3 is a HUGE add! Thanks for sharing it.

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