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.
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.