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Developing Your Online Content Like Public Speaking

I’ve had the opportunity to speak publicly over 300 times in the past five years. I enjoy it…and always hope the audience takes something away from the presentation. Without realizing it until recently, public speaking has been critical to helping me fine tune my online content creation skills. In this post, I’m going to give away my secret to taking the best from public speaking into your writing process.

After a few speeches here and there in high school and during college, I formally started to take public speaking seriously by teaching it while at Penn State University. The best idea I can share regarding public speaking is to keep it simple. To execute that concept, I stole a page from Aristotle and taught this to my students:

  1. Tell them what you are going to tell them.
  2. Tell them.
  3. Tell them what you just told them.

You do two things with this method.  First, you set expectations.  The most important thing you can do to start a speech is to set expectations. For most of my speeches, I put a big #1 on the PowerPoint presentation and tell the audience my expectation for this speech is to have the audience take one usable idea away with them.  If they do that, I should meet their expectations.  If they get two ideas, then I surpassed their expectations and they should give me a high grade on the evaluation (say what you will, but this works to get high speaker marks).

Second, the repetition is planned.  You simply cannot repeat too much in a speech. If you want them to really take away your key concept, you have to repeat (just like a print advertisement, which works best with at least seven impressions over a 12 month span). You just need to keep repeating in different ways (new stories, new lists, new pictures, etc.).

Public Speaking to Online Content

Thunder::Tech, a digital marketing agency out of Cleveland Ohio, takes this concept a step further when teaching SEO copywriting best practices.

When looking at online content, we need to make sure that with each and every post/article we have a clear understanding of the purpose. If we leave anything up to question, then odds are that a search engine will not rank the post properly…and more importantly, the reader won’t get it either. To solve this issue, Thunder:Tech uses the Classic Essay Format.

Classic Essay Format

When writing an essay many of us were taught the five paragraph method.  This is where we outline our points at the start (one paragraph), discuss them throughout the paper (three paragraphs), and them summarize at the end of the paper (one paragraph), clearly restating themes and points covered.

The Strong Start

Start by telling your audience what you are going to tell them.  Use your primary keyword enough to help make your point, but not enough where it sounds unnatural.

Support in the Middle

Here we want to make sure that we adequately cover the topic in question…basically, this is where you discuss the meat of the story.  Use examples and images. During this time we want to use our keyword at opportune times as well. You must make sure that you clearly make your point before you close the post.

Finish Strong

Similar to starting fast, we must end on a high note. I’ve seen so many speeches that just end and move directly to Q&A.  What a missed opportunity?  Here is where you want to reiterate your point (and your keywords) by telling them what you just told them.

Don’t Forget the Calls to Action

Part of a strong finish means taking your reader the next step. A good call to action grabs the user/reader by the hand and doesn’t call them to action, but demands that action be taken.

Bad Example

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Better Example

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So, the next time you are preparing to write your next blog post, think of how you would present it if it were a public speech…and then think of these three steps.

  1. Tell them what you are going to tell them.
  2. Tell them.
  3. Tell them what you just told them.

To find out more about how to become a champion storyteller, simply attend Content Marketing World 2011.

Image Credit: Shutterstock