by Cara Lumen
I’m writing a new teleclass, “Ready, Set, Blog – 30 days to a Magnetic Web Presence” and as I watch my creative process as I create a four week course I thought I’d share some of my organizational tips with you.
Tip #1 Keep it a Manageable Size
I’ve certainly taken my share of three month long courses, but for my creative temperament, I prefer to teach in shorter segments. One three month class I just completed covered just about everything there was no know about the topic but it could have easily been broken up into smaller, more focused experiences and I might have felt like I achieved results faster.
So if you have an idea, first look to see if you have to have a beginner’s class and then follow that with an intermediate class. Teaching in leveled segments is a good model to keep in mind as you plan.
For every class write down the answer to this statement: Students leave with an understanding of… If you find yourself with a long list cut your course into even shorter segments. Be certain you can clearly teach the points you choose to make.
Tip #2 Think with a Beginners Mind
I’m teaming this new course with Adam Sayler, who knows a TON about WordPress. I know the Marketing Part, he knows the technical part. I have only recently learned to work in Word Press so I am a perfect one to see the material he will teach with a beginner’s mind. What do I need to know first? What do I need to do early on so I can get started producing results and thus feel encouraged? I began with writing down what I needed to know and in what order I needed to learn it in. And I built the class structure on that need to know.
I’ve been helping a friend organize a book she is writing. She has the wonderful gift of being able to see everything as connected, but you can’t teach connection until you teach each part that needs connecting. Think with a beginner’s mind – the mind of the people you want to teach. Are they raw beginners, or intermediate? You choose who you are aiming for. But you still have to give them a clear foundation upon which you build your premise.
Tip #3 Watch out for Jargon
Particularly when we are well trained in a field we will be unaware of our jargon and will use it unconsciously. However, jargon is meaningless to the people you are trying to teach. Even if you explain it they may not get it. Use simple, every-day words so that your meaning cannot be misconstrued.
Tip #4 Think in Terms of Segments
To organize my courses I make a table of four columns.
1. Segment topic
2. Major Points
3. Handouts, Exercises And Stories
For instance, this article on “How to Organize Your Thoughts” could be a book and I actually have one started. It may end up being a radio show or a talk, but I have set some parameters for this writing because this is an article of a certain size. We’re only going to talk about some basic concepts you can put into place that will allow you to organize your thoughts more easily.
So Column #1 would read 7 Tips to Organize your Ideas
Column #2, the major point column will contain a list of the seven tips.
If this were a segment in a telecourse I would build on column #3. What exercises can I create to help people find their beginners mind, or determine how much content to use? Are there stories I can tell about how people organized their ideas? Well yes, I know of someone who wrote each idea on a sticky note and put them all over the wall where she could prioritize them. I happen to make tables in Word with these columns to organize my ideas.
And again, if I were preparing a course there would be homework in Column #4– things for the participants to do in order to begin getting results.
Whether you use sticky notes or columns in Word, think in terms of segments.
Tip #5 Learn to Time Your Content
I’m getting better at this as I do my radio show Passionately on Purpose on Blog Talk Radio. But I do write out a script so I can be certain I don’t wander off my point and that I get in all the points I have chosen to make. Again I work in tables and use a colored line to mark where I should be time-wise after each segment. Now I can visually judge how much time a segment will take when I’m writing it but I still use the colored time lines to keep my delivery on target. I definitely do a table template when creating a teleclass because I want to be certain I also have times clearly marked off for interaction with the participants placed at regular intervals throughout the course. When I’m interviewed on other people’s shows I have a list of talking points so we can make the conversation flow back and forth. But that’s just me being well prepared.
Tip #6 Make Your Point
Get really clear about what you want to teach or tell and be certain you focus all the content toward making that major point clear. If it’s not relevant, if it does not move the reader forward toward a greater understanding, if it is too detailed for a beginning reader, exclude it. Make you point clearly and they will get it.
Tip #7 Don’t Expand until your Outline is Clear
This is a major tip. It’s much easier to look at the relationship of your points on a single piece of paper than it is to scroll through written pages to see the relationship. When you create a strong outline, clearly focused toward your particular target audience, they will get it when you expand it. A strong outline – a lean outline – a relevant outline – will organize your ideas into a powerful communication.
And always write from your heart, then edit from your head. Make your communication meaningful, insightful, interesting, and relevant to the needs of your community. Then they will get your message!