Webinar or Web-i-not

I won't be hooked again!
I won’t be hooked again!


noun, often capitalized \ˈwe-bə-ˌnär\ :  a live online educational presentation during which participating viewers can submit questions and comments

I like learning online and have taken several types of online classes in the past few years. Last week I signed up for two free webinars. That is what they were advertised as – “free webinars”. Well they were free and they at first appeared to be webinars but they both soon became infomercials. Their sole purpose was not to teach me anything, but to convince me to take a class expanding on what I thought I would be getting out of the webinar.

Now I have no problem with infomercials. I watch lots of late night ads for blenders and knives and weight loss products. But I know from the start that it is a sales pitch. Why didn’t the people putting on the free webinar mention that it is a sales pitch for their class? I could then decide whether I want to hear the pitch. Hiding the pitch inside the webinar without warning me is a good way to turn me against anything they are selling.

This is going to be a bit of a rant about the two webinars I saw. It may not be representative of all webinars but I feel that two in two days from two different unrelated people on two unrelated topics (their only connection was writing) means that there are a lot more out there. I’d just like to see a bit more transparency. Thus my following rant.

State your price up front. If you are selling a product or a class do not make me wait until the end to find out the price. If you think your price is fair then state it up front. One of the webinars was selling a ten week class for $899. That seemed fair for what the student would receive, but it is not something I can afford. Had I known the price up front then I would not have wasted my time and I might have considered the class in the future. Instead I was just annoyed. Annoyed readers do not become paying students.

Get the technology right. It is amazing what we can do on the internet. People in various parts of the world can come together and watch a live video of someone who has put together a Power Point presentation and we can interact with each other and the presenter. Amazing, right? Well it would be if the person using the technology did a good job. On the first webinar the technology was second rate, fuzzy, and the comments section didn’t work. On the second webinar the sound was too loud, the delay was maddening, and several students had to leave due to the variation in loudness. Plus the presenter claimed it was the students’ issue when it was actually her mike and how she had it positioned. I know the webinar was free, but since it was actually an infomercial why would I want to take your class if you aren’t going to get the technology right. I wouldn’t pay just because of the frustration. If you don’t know how to make the technology work properly than hire someone who does. Since you are using the webinar to make money putting a little money into the presentation can’t hurt.

Don’t read your Power Point presentation. I can read a book if I just want the information on the page. When the presenter says nothing else but what is on the screen they are wasting my time. The page is supposed to be a summary that you expand on, not the only thing you can think to say.

I guess that is all. I will be hesitant to see anymore free webinars. I believe there is no such thing as a free lunch but why not be honest. These webinars were bait to get people interested in their classes. I’m fine with that technique, but I am not going to be hooked again.

“Truth is the most valuable thing we have, so I try to conserve it.”  ~Mark Twain


To Write or to Research…

Research can be a never-ending path through a beautiful meadow.
Research can be a never-ending path through a beautiful meadow.

I love to do research on just about any topic, but it doesn’t feel like writing. I know it is part of the publishing process, but when my goal is to put 500 words or more into the computer each day research takes away from that.

Most of my research is done on the internet and the internet is like a bag of Ruffles potato chips with a side of French onion dip. I only plan on eating a few and then next thing I know the bag is empty and I feel awful. With the internet I only plan to look up one thing and then three hours has flown by and I feel guilty. I had a lot of fun, but it didn’t improve my writing.

I am now at a point in one project where I have to do research. A lot of research. As I said I like to do research but right now I’d rather be writing. So I have posted a list next to my laptop to keep me from getting lost in the research. I get lost often and need all the help I can get.

My research plan:

1) Set a timer. I use timers for lots of projects. It stops me from wandering forever.

2) Use the 3-click rule. I didn’t make this up but it works when I remember to use it. Essentially I only click on three links for any one search. If I can’t find my answer after three clicks I probably need to refine my search.

3) Be aware of what you are researching. I made a list of what I need to know so I don’t click on something just because it looks interesting. If I want to look at it later I bookmark it but don’t read it right then.

4) Keep the character in mind. I might find something interesting to me but is it important to my character? If the answer is no then I move on.

5) Do you need more than a tidbit? It may be interesting to learn about the history of the Roman Empire but maybe all I need is the name of one emperor. I try to pick out the one fact and resist the pull of the whole story.

6) Copy and paste. Researching is like picking apples off of trees. I might glance at the apple as I grab it to make sure it’s not rotten but I wouldn’t decide which are pie apples and which are cider apples. I just pick the apples and put them in the basket. During my research I try to not examine any information too carefully. I just bookmark the site or copy and paste the information into a Word document. I can then comb through it later and figure out where the information goes in my story.

With this list I should be able to finish my research in a timely manner and get back to increasing my word count. It would be nice to find a balance because all research does not make Jennifer a published author.

“Research is creating new knowledge.” – Neil Armstrong