You may be so filled with great information that you’re about to burst. In your enthusiasm, you could leave your webinar audience far behind: confused . . . unengaged . . . lost. But don’t despair, let’s get your great content organized for maximum enjoyment. Ready to get started?
Imagine you’re listening to a speech by your favorite speaker.
She’s over-the-top fascinating. You’re captivated by the drama of her stories, swept along by the emotions she makes you feel, almost transported into a different world.
She sounds totally spontaneous and unrehearsed. You wonder how she can think on her feet so quickly . . . and so delightfully.
I’ll let you in on a little secret.
Why? because that’s how people think. They enjoy placing things into categories. Without categories, your content will seem like a disconnected jumble of random data.
Remember your primary job as a presenter.
Your job is to think on behalf of your audience. To organize the material into something they can comprehend.
And what happens if you fail to do that job? Your audience is left to organize your content in a way they can understand.
You can do a much better job of it than they can.
Your most-interested participants may be OK.
There’s a certain segment that will do whatever it takes to assimilate your ideas. But the sad truth is that most will not. They’ll make a half-hearted effort or no effort at all.
Why? The Internet has trained us to be picky about the content we consume and about the format in which it’s packaged. And if the message isn’t clear and captivating, it’s far too easy to click open a new browser window and explore.
So let’s talk about how to get your content organized.
1. Set limits.
I was once at a presentation where the presenter said, “Only 137 slides today, we’ll be done in no-time.” Everyone groaned, then laughed when they realized the speaker was joking.
The audience feels a sense of relief when they know your message is finite, something they can comprehend and absorb. It helps them relax and listen. And it helps them grasp the underlying order of your information.
That’s why numbered lists are so popular, not only in articles but in webinars. When you hear a present say, “Here are 3 points to remember,” you immediately create 3 slots in your brain to hold these 3 ideas.
And if the first point is fascinating, useful, and easy to comprehend, you assume the next two will be also. So you’re more receptive knowing that, at the end, you’ll have 3 more good ideas in your head.
2. Create layers.
And not just numbered lists. You can choose categories that are macro (the big picture) with subcategories inside that are micro (the details).
Your webinar might have a macro structure of problem, solution, call-to-action. Or situation, consequences, solution. Or claim, warrant, proof, impact (classical logic).
And within each of those categories, there might be numbered lists or subcategories. You can get pretty complex as long as you create a strong organizational structure to support it.
3. Know your audience.
I know what you’re thinking. Not everyone likes to be organized. Some people value spontaneity over organization.
But ask yourself: is that type of person common in your target market? Is a “free spirit” your ideal client or customer?
If so, maybe more subtle organization is needed. If your target is engineers or moms, you’d better believe organization is important.
4. Use flexible structures.
And here’s the part that may seem counter-intuitive. Structure doesn’t take away your freedom, it actually enlarges it.
With a structure in place, you can feel free to expand upon one point, if that’s what seems to connect with your audience. Or you can gloss over a point quickly if it seems too elementary for them.
The structure keeps both you and your audience anchored.
5. Keep speaking skills in perspective.
And do you remember that glib, captivating speaker we imagined at the beginning of this article? The spontaneous speaker with dazzling skills?
Well, here’s something important to remember. Those wonderful speaking skills are like the attractive case that houses your laptop computer. Its design is sleek, meant to be appealing. But it’s what’s inside that does the real work.
Now don’t get me wrong — design is critical. But its purpose is to dress-up the working machinery to make it attractive and user-friendly. The sizzle, not the steak.
In the same way, speaking skills are, of course, quite important. But the underlying structure of your ideas — that’s what makes your content useful, memorable and remarkable.
How do you categorize?
Maybe it will help crystallize your ideas in your own mind. And maybe you’ll help someone you’ve never even met — me, for instance 🙂