Dear Mom

The Art of Learning Patience: Or
How to Tell a Sad Story Effectively

Vita Slackville-West

First of all, I admit, I  have little or no patience with most things. This means, when I sign up for a webinar and you take 10 minutes of the hour you promised me, talking about yourself, going into great detail about your life, mentioning some major illness or event that 'changed your life', I'm gone. I don't hang around to learn whatever it was you promised to teach me. Because, truth be told, I like learning, I do not care to get your back history. A few words about your professional life, indeed. But, a long story about your this or that and how it changed your life and now you're making six figures every month, it's all blah blah blah to me.

I have patience for important things. Waiting for you to start the webinar is not one of them. (Do you commit these 10 Webinar Mistakes? I did some of them, but I'm learning how not to, now.)

I'm on a rant here. If you are one of the people out there giving webinars that take 20 minutes to actually start, you can write me a nasty note below. But, if you're like me, if you already read the long explanatory invite, with all the promises of what you'll learn, along with the presenter's name and link to his or her website, and now that you're on the webinar you're annoyed with having to wait for him or her to go through it all again, with a lot of extra story telling... leave me a note, also.

Yes, I am just off a webinar where this happened. I apologize but I have to rant here or I'd be sitting in my chair pulling my hair out. Yes, it's that bad.

What concerns me is this - this is not the first time this has happened. It seems to be routine. More and more professionals are doing "let me teach you" webinars, which are free - so, some folks would say I have no right to complain - that do this. The presenter spends the first 15-20 minutes on herself, or himself. Let's stick with herself to make it easy. In this case, I did not catch her name or business name at the start of her power point presentation. If it was there, I missed it. And, since she was new to me, I was forced to go back to Facebook and find the invite I responded to, to learn who she was. That wasn't so bad. That's on me.

As the webinar continued, I sat through slide after slide first telling us what she would teach us, which is okay, but then telling us that her system works - wow, never would have believed it, I mean, didn't I sign up because I believed her system could work? sigh

Pleasing yourself at the expense of others?
Life isn't about pleasing one person.

When she got into the details of her life, and how a family member contracted a major illness, which changed her way of thinking, I began to growl, silently.

Here's the thing - is it necessary these days to put your family problems on display, to get people to trust you? I've attended conferences and webinars a good bit this year where the keynote or presenter took a good bit of time to tell the story of this illness or that car crash or whatever, as if no one in the audience would trust her if she didn't share this awful story.

I am not criticizing the stories. I am not disputing that you build trust when you get your audience to understand you're just like them and oh, by the way, you have trials and tribulations in your family, too! "Just like you, dear audience." I am saying, following Katharine Hepburn's mother's advice, as quoted above, is not a good thing, in this case.

What I am gritting my teeth about is the fact that every speaker to date has struggled with these so called life-changing events in their immediate family and they are using them to build that sense of trust with us - by tapping into our deepest emotional memories (or current life struggles), and I am calling foul.

Having such experiences does not make you smarter. It does not mean your webinar is better than anyone else's. It does not mean you are more trustworthy.

It does mean, I am now suspicious of you. It does mean, you are pitiful. It does mean, by the time you get to the teaching part of your presentation, you've wasted 10 -15 minutes of my time and I do not appreciate that.

Wow. That's harsh. I guess. I'm sensing some of you saying I am out of control.


However, the story of your life may influence me more if it comes with a project we are working on. If I am going to work with you for a good period of time, I am open to hearing the story of your life. I am not interested in the deepest dark secrets during a webinar. A webinar that I know you will up-sell me on - taking more time at the end of the hour. This generally leaves 10 -20 minutes for actual content. This post about how to tell a sad story might help, if you're interested in help, of course. 

Gosh. How kind of you to give me 20 minutes of your time. I know it's worth $500 an hour or something. Given what you say you make every month, like, $20,000. 

However, your invite was for an hour. An hour where I would learn how to do this or that, using a special process you've created, over the many years of your professional life.

No matter that the webinar is free. That is not an excuse to waste my time. Clearly, this particular webinar was going to spend 20-25 minutes on the topic, and if that's all you need for the topic, make the webinar 30 minutes, spend 5 - that's all, 5 - on you and your background.


I'm done.

I'm out. (and if you're new to webinars, I recommend learning from the folks at Zoom. They do a GREAT job!)

You can abuse me in the comments, but be polite. Swear words or actual name-calling will not be published. 


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Yvonne DiVita

Diana, I do expect them to tell me ab out themselves, but I am becoming so impatient with long stories about cancer and auto accidents and any number of tragedies that are all right to mention, but that's it - mention, not spend 20 minutes in a monologue about how it changed the person's life. That's for some other time. In my opinion. You and i do often think alike, don't we?

Yvonne DiVita

Janice, thank you so much for your insightful comment here. It's true. I could have been a bit kinder, but it did hit a nerve and since it was yet another 'expert' talking more about their personal life than doing the teaching they offered, I just had to write about it.

Thank you for reading Dear Mom. I have other mom stories coming, soon!

Janice Marotto

Yvonne, this article does not sound like you. At least it’s not the articles I’ve read written by you in the past. Whomever was teaching the webinar must have really hit a nerve. I understand people waste each other’s time, but we can put it in perspective. He or she is trying to make a living and they will try anything to get more customers. Yes, some people resort to all kinds of things such as telling sad stories and going on and on about their education and experience. Some try to up-sell you on more training or whatever with drawn-out descriptions, but it’s up to us who truly do have more life experience to simply listen and if it’s not our cup of tea, we can log out. Or better yet, wait until the end and fill out that survey and leave constructive comments. How can a person get better if we don’t provide feedback? Most people just want to be listened to, especially the people telling sad stories. They may not know how to tell their story because it might be coming from a place of pain. Who knows? In the end, we can be sympathetic and simply provide constructive feedback so they can improve. I know we live in a fast and furious world these days, but like your other stories: “Whose Story Is It?” and “I Wax the Morning Nostalgic” we can all slow down, take a deep breath and don’t let these things get to us. By the way, “Dear Mom”, I loved it!

Diana Gardner Robinson

Thanks for this, Yvonne. I've frequently pondered the same thing. I have mentally sneered when someone who is giving a webinar on giving webinars recommends - yes, recommends - that folk do exactly what you are talking about. Frankly, I usually sort papers or play an internet card game while this is going on, but, like you, my opinion of the webinar "leader" sinks slowly down and down the longer the chatter continues.

Yvonne DiVita

Thanks for understanding, Jodi. I feel strongly about this. I don't understand it, and I refuse to follow the leader, on it. LOVE your site and your work. Liked you on FB - and I will also share!

Jodi Henson

Thank you for calling foul on a popular format that is truly frustrating! One of the worst things a business person can do is waste time. There's an economic cost that is impossible to recoup. I'm sure that most everyone who signs up for a webinar wants/needs to learn. Reciprocation of respect for the price they pay with their time is half of the value. Meaty content is the other half. Thank you for the pointed rant - it is long overdue!

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