Information product creation: 10 things I learned at the College of William and Mary

Although I graduated with a degree in education, I never took an informational product creation class at William and Mary. I did learn a tremendous amount about what makes a good product (or lecture or textbook or class). To make your information product superb:
1. Remember someone is paying for this—make it valuable.
2. Share your information in several formats—some people learn by seeing, others by hearing or doing—and include pictures, audio, video, summary sheets, and/or a companion workbook.
3. Focus on one key concept at a time—save additional topics for another chapter, time, or product.
4. Make it fun as well as educational—add humor or something unexpected like encouraging students to sing facts in order to retain them.
5. Emphasize the immediate applications that benefit your audience—answer the “what’s in it for me?” and the “how can I use this right now?” questions.
6. Don’t sell your expertise and then send a substitute speaker or teaching assistant unless, of course, your replacement is more knowledgeable than you.
7. Watch your time and everyone else’s—you don’t have to talk for 1-1/2 hours just because you can.
8. Respect your audience’s intelligence (they picked your class or product, didn’t they?) and refrain from
a. Reading your book to them, especially if you’re charging for the book and the lecture
b. Turning your talk into an infomercial about you
c. Ignoring questions
d. Belittling or talking down to your listeners or readers
e. Requiring busy work with no purpose
9. Offer a guarantee if recipients complete your step-by-step program—similar to promising an A to students who follow the course outline and do the work.
10.  Encourage ongoing conversations about the topic with those who want to know more—learning should be a life-long process, not a night-before-the-exam marathon.

You may never attend William and Mary, but you can benefit from what I learned about information product creation as a student. My thanks to my professors for showing me how education should (and shouldn’t) be done.

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