Let’s be honest.
It’s a free-for-all out there.
More and more people are sharing what they know. It’s like a rush of prospectors searching for gold. So it’s hard to be heard.
Do you struggle to get people’s attention? Let’s dispel some doubts.
Your problem isn’t that you’re mining the wrong subject. Your problem isn’t that others got there first. And your problem definitely isn’t a lack of things to say.
Your problem is you’re sitting on the gold mine. But don’t know it.
How to stand out from the online hubbub
Transform flat facts and plain information – the common place grit and gravel – into content that gets people hooked – the gold nuggets.
Uncover the gold dust and you reveal your true value. You stand out from the crowd.
Want to pan for gold?
First off let’s tackle the rocks, sand, grit and gravel – the information a plenty.
You are not a personalised Wikipedia service
This is the information age. We can access facts, figures and ideas about anything.
But here’s the problem. It doesn’t always help.
Maybe you’ve read up on project management. But still struggle with indecisive stakeholders who change priorities.
That’s because theories are high level and abstract. It’s hard to see how they apply to you.
Expertise is more than knowing stuff. It’s what you do with it
Your knowledge comes from experience: real situations, real people. You’ve had triumphs and disasters. You’ve learnt from mistakes, discovered work-rounds, learnt killer tips. You’ve developed a unique take on your subject.
Draw on your experience. Create the gold nuggets that make people sit up and take notice.
Gold nugget # 1: Examples and case studies – bring it to life, make it real.
It’s what people want to know.
How does this work in real life? How do people actually use this stuff? ‘And is it the same for everyone’?
Short examples and case studies illustrate your point. They paint a picture that includes time, money, place and people. They make it real.
They give people:
- Clarity – Ah, so that’s how it works.
- Belief – OK, people do actually use this stuff.
- Inspiration – That rocks. I want to do what they’re doing.
- Motivation – If they can do it, so can I.
Ways to use examples and case studies:
- Choose a range to give the big picture. For the ‘How to use Social Media’ course we used a start-up, an established law firm and an innovative online business.
- Use one case study to demonstrate all your points. Show in depth how one person/organisation works.
Choose carefully. Examples and case studies should bring flat facts to life. So they mean something to your audience.
Gold nugget # 2: Share a process – make it doable
(Up to 7 steps work best because it feels manageable).
Are you a whizz in the kitchen?
Given a list of ingredients and a picture of the finished dish, could you make it? Maybe not. That’s why recipe books sell in their millions. The process matters. We need clear step by step instructions to get it right.
So make your expertise doable. Demystify what you do by sharing a process.
Answer questions that begin ‘How do I ….?
- How do I use metaphors?
- How do I identify my social media content sweet-spot?
- How do I track social media metrics?
With easy-to-follow steps.
Bear in mind why recipes work:
- We know what success looks like
- The end product is achievable
- We follow a logical sequence of small steps broken down into stages
- We know what’s needed to get the job done – ingredients, measures and tools
Gold nugget # 3: Common mistakes – Save people time
Did you pass your driving test first time?
Nope, me neither.
What did you fail on? Was it any of these?
Top 5 reasons people fail the driving test (in the UK)
- Poor observation at junctions
- Failing to check blind spots when reverse parking
- Incorrect signal use
- Incorrect positioning on the road
- Inappropriate speed for a driving test
This list helps learner drivers decide what needs practice.
Help people focus their efforts in the right place.
Save them time. Draw on your experience. Say where most people go wrong.
Gold nugget # 4: Warning signs – Achtung! Road crash ahead.
Ever had a costly garage bill? Or maybe an accident? All because you didn’t know the warning signs?
Warning signs like these:
- It takes effort to steer around a corner
- Steering wheel vibrates vigorously while idling
- Whining or squealing noise when you turn the wheel
Take note. These are all signs of failing power-steering. Now you know, you’re prepared. You can take action before you lose control or spin off the road.
Experts often take warning signs for granted. Because you spot and correct them automatically. It’s just part of what you do. So you forget how important they are for novices.
Take the time to spell out warning signs. Your learners will thank you for it.
- The imagery of your phrase feels faded
- You’ve not taken the time to think about which phrase to use
- You sound like an MBA graduate trying to impress her peers
Henneke points out the red flags. She puts us in the driving seat.
Gold nugget # 5: Your own rules – add your personal stamp
We love to hate them.
But, secretly we quite like rules. They guide us. And put an end to ambiguity.
Some rules are universal – grammar for example. But why not make your own rules?
Capture your values, how you operate and key lessons learnt in your top five ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’.
Have fun, add a dash of personality to the ‘Thou shalt not’ approach to rules.
Just let people know they’re your version of the rules. Oh, and don’t forget to include exceptions to the rules.
Wake up to your true value
Maybe you’d rather share your latest ideas and theories – this feels exciting. Not common mistakes and 5 step processes – mundane and uninspired.
It’s understandable. You stopped thinking about the ABCs of what you do long ago. It’s not what you talk about on a day-to-day basis with your peers. So it’s hard to value (or remember) the things you’ve done and learnt to reach this point.
But here’s the thing.
Your job is to help people make sense of information. And learners need concrete details – your experience – to create meaning from abstract ideas and theories.
Trying to teach an abstract principle without concrete foundations is like trying to start a house by building a roof in the air.
Your hard-won experience – how you apply what you know – is the gold mine you’re sitting on.
Want people to sit up and take notice?
The first step is recognising your experience for what it is.
There’s gold in them thar hills.