The Best Things in Life Are… Free?
“Start this free video training!”
“Sign up here for this free 7-day course!”
“Join my mastermind group!”
“Watch my Facebook Live!”
If you’ve been on social media or even looked in your email inbox, you have probably been bombarded by all these enticing, free invitations to sign up for training, groups, and courses.
Who doesn’t want free? All it costs us is our time!
(All it costs us is our time? Isn’t time a precious commodity!)
Before being concerned with getting more information, just because it’s free, we should care about the quality of the content and the impact it is going to make our lives.
Information is Everywhere
We are all wading through enormous amounts of information every day. In fact, we are bombarded with information… whether it be on social media, the television or radio, even the flyers that come home from your kid’s school.
There is so much. It can feel like you are drowning in water, never being able to keep up with it… to process it or to make any sense of it all.
The information overloads your life (think of the paper clutter all over your house) and your brain (how can you possibly remember and act upon all of the information you intake each day)?
If you’re creating content, courses, and info products, you want to make sure that the information you are delivering to your audience does not get lost in the growing sea of free content.
By the end of the post, you’ll be able to understand the difference between training as an info dump and a full-fledged learning experience, and why this difference matters for how your audience will engage with your content and how it will impact your business.
Quantity or Quality?
If you are an entrepreneur and small business distributing information, digital products, or courses, this is especially important for you; quality does matter in the ever-growing field of info product development.
Quality will be determined by the content and composition of the information. If you take time to produce a quality product with polished content, an attractive cover or image, and something people will find useful, then you will tend to find more success with it than with something that is just thrown together. (TheBlogPress.com).
An info product can be an effective way to increase your market authority and grow your business… if, you are distributing your information in a format for your audience, that they can take action on.
Interesting content matters, but the way the content is compiled together, matters even more.
In fact, based on the research, the least effective method [to distribute your message] would be a lecture. Long-term retention rates of a typical lecture, where an individual merely stands in front of people and talks are considered to be around 5% (The Peak Performance Center).
That’s not going to make much of an impact now, is it?
In that neverending ocean of information, which is starting to feel like a daily information dump, there’s been a recently popular term that individuals and entrepreneurs are repeatedly using… and this has really been bothering me: training.
You see, I have over 12 years of experience in learning and performance development that includes building global learning strategies for multiple Fortune 500 companies…, and when I see “free video training” or “sign up for my free training,” being used loosely… I get REALLY annoyed. After all, creating effective learning is a passion of mine!
Telling isn’t training! And, it especially isn’t learning.
Training is helping people to acquire new knowledge and skills. Learning is the modification of an existing behavior based on the acquisition of that new knowledge and skill.
When you give people a learning experience, you are providing them with tools to take the information they have been given, and to apply in their lives, to take action, to empower them.
This is more than handing over a 10-pound book of, “blah blah blah” and saying, “now go, change the world!”
Unfortunately, what I am finding in most of these “trainings” out there is that really just give information, so it’s like listening to a talk or lecture. Information is great, but by itself, it doesn’t really do much for you after you turn off the video or close the email you just read (remember, only 5% is retained long-term)!
What Information Alone Can and Cannot Do
Not that there’s anything wrong with information. There’s a lot of great information out there. It can help us get to our core desires and help us think differently about our lives.
But to be honest, I’ve gotten a little bit bored by the information out there. A lot of these video trainings are like watching TV.
So with these free trainings, you end up zoning out or possibly dozing off. You aren’t paying full attention to what’s being said. You may not even finish the video or course or training. And it’s never fun to be disappointed, to get amped to for a training or course, and then be left with no action steps to apply the knowledge you’ve gained. It can feel like a big waste of your time.
And I’ve been there. I’ve watched the “free trainings” from my favorite influencers, and think, “Oh wow, that’s a great idea,” but then I never do anything with that great idea. Because I can’t seem to figure out how to pull it into action. How to take a forward-moving step.
Most of the trainings out there are not guiding us to do anything with the information we have just learned. We’re not prompted to take the next step. We’re not being empowered to move further with our lives with that information.
We are simply info dumped on.
So ask yourself: if you have been offering free trainings, how are you helping get to the next level with the information you’ve given? How are you helping them learn to make a difference in their lives?
A Quick Review
Throughout this blog series, I have been discussing Robert Gagné’s nine events of instruction. We’ve gone over three of these events so far.
Now we’re going to move on to the fourth and fifth events of instruction.
… drum roll…
4. Provide the content!
5. Provide guidance for your content!
Of course, we know that the fourth event of instruction is definitely happening–we are drowning in new content every day. But what I see lacking is the fifth event–a lack of guidance for the audience in one’s content.
What does this mean?
While we are giving our audience information, we are not providing them with a clear direction to take the information and move it into their own space of application.
We can tell someone how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich…
“Take two pieces of bread and put peanut butter on one and then jelly on the other and slap them together, wallah!”
But how do you actually guide them through the sandwich creation process? How do you help them make sure they hold the knife correctly and don’t get crumbs all over?
Your information may seem simple to you… but that’s because you a genius at it!
When your audience goes to take action themselves, they may find it totally overwhelming.
This disconnect is causing people to take in the information but have no use for it without some sort of action. This lack of engagement will cause them to scroll to someone else’s website or social media page. You may initially have been able to capture their attention, but you haven’t been able to hold it.
So how do you actually present content and guide someone through it?
Create Content That Engages the Senses
Video has only been increasing in popularity and shows no signs of stopping. Video is a great way to engage an audience–and so is audio. But as you learned before, the long-term retention rate on the content of this nature is only 5%… how can you increase this?
I want you to do more with your audience so that they feel engaged and enlightened!
Here are some ideas:
1. Diversify the kind of content you offer. Audio and visual is great, but it’s not enough on its own. Bring other kinds of content that can meet the learning styles of other people such as:
- ○ Audio and video transcripts.
- ○ Visual cues within your presentations such as titles and captions.
- ○ Worksheets with fill-in-the-blanks to help viewers follow along and stay engaged.
2. Follow-up with your content delivery by providing additional information. There are many ways you can accomplish this such as:
- ○ Provide a follow-up document that summarizes your content along with step-by-step actions to
- ○ Create an online forum.
- ○ Start a discussion in the comments section.
Offer virtual feedback and coaching based on what you are teaching them; better yet, provide lessons with challenges and allow for your audience to support and provide feedback to each other.
If You Lead Them, They Will Follow… but Don’t Disappoint!
Providing learning guidance for the information you’re presenting better ensures that when your audience is done with your training, they will better retain the knowledge and act on it.
Learning guidance can come in the form of delivering key points and then ways to apply those key points. Providing a step-by-step process makes it easier to take the information given in a training or a course and then acting on it.
Just remember that no one will be able to truly act on a data dump. Make sure your content acts as a guide, that you’re presenting information in a stepwise process. Otherwise, your learners only retain about 5% of the information in a lecture environment. All of these techniques will empower and inspire your audience to take action on what they’ve learned.
Empower Your Audience
What I really want for you is to feel empowered to inspire your audience to action. I want you to be able to craft and deliver a powerful message which will reach the right audience, which will ultimately cause your business and audience to grow, and create real, tangible changes in the world.
Think about this and tell me more in the comments below about some of the free trainings you’ve given and/or seen. Let’s talk about what worked and didn’t work in those trainings or talks. I look forward to chatting with you.