I spend way too much time reading on the Internet. Yesterday alone, I learned about body language, native advertising, mid-life crises, gardening, seat belts, anti-busyness, blue auras, dog tumors, television spoilers and more. Offline, I read a newspaper too.
But the trouble with this information onslaught is my tendency to forget. The next time I go to shake a hand, I’ll won’t recall which side I’m supposed to be on. I’ll get mixed up and plant the seeds in old coffee filters instead of toilet paper rolls. I will mumble when I want to name the new president of Ukraine.
So it goes, as Kurt Vonnegut (or is that John Updike, David Foster Wallace or some other white male American writer?) would say.
When I was taking a course on teaching adults recently, this theory resurfaced from the dusty, deep caverns of my consciousness. Only now it makes sense.
When I only consume information, I forget a lot. When I apply knowledge, I remember more. When I teach , it goes into the memory vault.
When you teach adults, you’re supposed to encourage them to practice immediately, first in a controlled setting where they’re either right or wrong, then giving them enough latitude to perform the task imperfectly and learn from their mistakes. Next you let them interpret what they’ve learned by applying it to something a little different.
While they are learning and doing, group work encourages the more advanced students to teach the ones who are struggling.
When I first went to university, the professors stood at the front of the class and lectured. From talking to my daughter and her friends, I know a lot still do. Good marks still often depend more on short-term memory tricks than long-term knowledge storage.
On the positive side, more educators engage their classes by giving them assignments to breathe life into their new knowledge before it can plummet down the rabbit hole of memory. There’s more group work too.
Similarly, top physicians often work at teaching hospitals so they can share their experience with students. Sales people sell more when they have a new guy under their wing.
Teaching is learning. We can all be teachers.
So how will teach-do-learn help you become a better content creator?
The next time you offer advice, include ways your readers can immediately apply it. Encourage them to start applying it in a controlled way, building to interpretation and critical thinking. Let them teach each other through comments and conversations.
Appreciate that your posts and other content marketing are forms of teaching. Just as writing this post is reinforcing for me what I learned in the course, this kind of teaching will benefit you as well as your readers.
Look for other opportunities to share your knowledge. I don’t mean the easy sharing of links on social media. I mean helping others understand, apply, interpret and challenge your expertise. For example, you can explain Russian history to the guy in the next cubicle who comments on the news, show a boomer how to better use their phone or model desirable behavior for your children.
In a world where people often feel overwhelmed by information and change, teaching opportunities abound. If their eyes don’t shift to the nearest screen or glaze over, your expertise is probably welcome.
Very few people can remember all the information they ingest every day. Much of what’s not immediately relevant slides down the hole, never to be seen again. If that didn’t happen, information overload would probably short-circuit our brains.
But some sticks. Like learn, do, teach.
Oh, the mysteries of mind and memory.
Clear, concise and compelling writing is the key to building relationships, demonstrating your expertise, looking professional, inspiring and collaborating online.
Up your game, by listening or reading for about 10 minutes a week then practicing with your work. Keep score. Within six weeks, you and your colleagues will be impressed with your progress. Or your money back.
To celebrate the snow melting in my backyard, I’m offering Sticky readers and friends a special deal. With coupon code, snowmelts, you can buy the six-part series for only $40. That’s $60 off. The deal stands even if the snow returns.
The coupon will expire when the heats up.
A blog is a great asset for your small business or organization — as long as you use it correctly. Of the millions of blogs online right now, most have fewer than 1,000 readers. To become one of the winners, here are seven problems you need to fix:
- The title doesn’t capture your audience. The title of each and every one of your posts must draw in your readers. It must be clear. It must be truthful. It must make sense. Title your posts like you would write about them on Twitter. It helps if it is less than 140 characters with a short link so it can easily be shared online via social media.
- Your post is too happy. It’s sad but true. Readers like the conflict of the negative post. Take this title for example. “The ways you are blogging wrong” is more popular and more likely to get attention than all the ways you are blogging right even though in the long run, the posts could say the exact same thing.
- You tease your readers. Do not start with an introduction and get them all tuned in only to flip the switch and not deliver. Readers will remember and not come back knowing you aren’t trustworthy with your headlines.
- The name of your blog needs an explanation. Blog titles are important. No one is going to go to a website called “The Blog” or something as equally as generic. Name your blog something that relates to your business.
- You use your blog as a sounding board. A few venting pieces here and there are okay but your blog is not the place to complain. Don’t be the restaurant that blogs about customers that don’t tip. Use your blog to write about necessary and informative topics.
- You use your blog as a diary. Likewise, your blog is not the place for all your family drama. Tell your story on your blog as it relates to your business but otherwise, birthdays or funerals or weddings or whatever else that goes on doesn’t need to go on your blog.
- There is no passion behind the work. Readers can tell a fake in the first few words. If you don’t like writing, don’t run a blog. Or hire someone to write for you, making sure you are close enough to convey your passion through them. Don’t fake it or expect your writer to be a mind reader..
Dream big with your blog but make sure you can back it up. Mediocre blogs won’t change the world, let alone attract business.
Image via Flickr on Creative Commons
Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the
English learners often have a lot of trouble with the present perfect tense, as in I have been to the moon.
This tense doesn’t exist in many languages. What’s more, it’s more about what happened in the past and could happen in the future than it is about the present. And it’s sure not perfect.
In less than two minutes, you can learn how to use this tricky tense correctly. While dancing.
by Megan Totka
Facebook is an integral part social media marketing plan of most small businesses. Saying the right things and keeping followers engaged are important to your success.
- Provide helpful content. Share links, pages and infographics on your Facebook page that relate to nature of your business and profession. Give followers a reason for your business to be remembered.
- Cross promote others. Don’t be afraid to mention your competition and give them accolades where they are due. They’ll notice and do the same for you.
- Stay consistent. There are numerous tools available to plan and schedule your posts. Take an hour or two out of your day once a week and plan posts for the whole week. Use predictable days and times.
- Respond to comments. Don’t just address negative comments. Thank the positive commenters as well. Do no debate on your page. Acknowledge that your followers may have different views in some areas. Be humble and appreciative.
- Monitor usage. Be diligent about any users posting spam to your page and remove or block these posts as needed. Also watch for anyone posting hateful messages. It is up to you as the business owner to decide how this usage will be handled but be sure to be consistent.
- Ask open-ended questions. The best way to get followers engaged and keep the communication going is by asking thought-provoking questions. Ask for opinions and stories or even get input on upcoming changes that may be occurring with the business.
- Promote your work with helpful introductions. Make sure you aren’t just sharing helpful content from other sources; bring attention to your own website and blog too. Be mindful of your introductions so they set up the rest of your post clearly and get users to click the links for more.
- Offer incentives for remaining loyal. Everyone loves a good discount. Every month or so, offer fans a special coupon or sale to show appreciation for being dedicated followers.
Social media is a low-cost and easy-to-use marketing tool, so make the most of it. Your business will see the effect.
Photo via Flickr
Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.