How much content is enough? How much is too much?
It’s easy to procrastinate when you don’t know how much content to include. You don’t want to overwhelm your participants and then they don’t complete your course. And you definitely don’t want to give them too little and leave them feeling they didn’t get enough value from your course.
But you don’t want to wait until you have the magic answer because then you’ll never start.
The good news is there’s a sweet spot between too little and too much called ‘just enough’.
It’s the place where you give enough detail for your participants to understand and take action on your teachings but not too much that they feel confused, overwhelmed and paralysed into doing nothing.
There are 3 ways to find your sweet spot of ‘just enough’.
1 – Know your participants
First need to know who your participants are. Someone new to your topic will be overwhelmed a lot quicker than someone who has some experience with it and is wanting to go deeper.
Knowing who is going to take your course and what they already know is fundamental to designing an online course that’s going to meet their needs.
If you can answer the following 3 questions about your ideal participants then you’re well on your way to having your sweet spot nailed:
What do your participants already know about your topic?
What are they wanting to learn, experience or achieve?
Where are they currently struggling or likely to struggle?
If you’ve already been working as a coach or mentor you should have a pretty good idea. But if you’re not sure you can ask your list, review your work with past clients or post some questions in a Facebook group.
While every person is different and will have a different capacity to learn about your topic, you should notice some common themes that are relevant to the audience you are targeting. These are the things you will focus your content on.
Obviously it’s easier to design a course when you’re pitching to people at a similar level. If you are teaching a yoga class, it’s easier to teach beginners, intermediate or advanced separately because you know what they can do and what they are capable of.
But it is possible to teach a range of people and abilities in one course. Just like in a mixed yoga class.
If you want to cater for a broader audience, simply separate the basics from the more advanced bits.
This way the beginners will still get good results (and not be overwhelmed before they even start) and the more advanced students will feel satisfied they have been stretched enough (sorry, I couldn’t resist the yoga pun!).
2 – Start creating
The second thing you need to do is start creating your course. It’s best to create (at least in a draft version) 2 modules before you start marketing your course and taking enrolments.
Just starting to create your course content will help you figure out how much is enough. You should get a hunch if you’re cramming too much in or it’s a little thin (if it’s a little thin you might need to ask what else you know that could be included to make it more substantial).
If you’ve accumulated a lot of knowledge in your area of expertise it’s more likely than not that you’ll try to put too much content in. It’s normal to underestimate how long it will take us to talk someone else through a topic (in video or in writing) and it’s natural to want to give as much value as we can.
Think of each module of your course like a single live class. You need enough content to fill 2-3 hours (including their own time doing homework) and you shouldn’t exceed too much more than that. How long will it take them to watch your videos / listen to your audios and complete the tasks you’re setting.
Separate the important stuff (the ‘need to know’) from the frills (the ‘nice to know’ but not necessary). What needs to be done as they go and what can they come back to later?
3 – Test it out
You won’t know for sure how much content is enough until you test it out with real participants. There are a few different ways you can do this:
(1) Get your friends involved
If you have friends or peers that fit your target market you could offer the course free for them to do and review for you. Keep in mind that friends don’t always give honest feedback and it could be harder receiving criticism from them.
This is a good option is you’re feeling unsure and want some extra validation before you release your course to the public. Ask for honest feedback and suggestions for how it could be improved. The up-side of this option is that you can collect quick testimonials to use when you officially launch and market your course.
(2) Add a ‘live’ feature
You could run a course with a ‘live’ coaching component (in addition to pre-prepared videos, audios or written materials) to pick up any of the areas that you might have provided too much or not enough content. This could be done with group coaching calls or 1:1 calls with your participants.
Doing this for your first round of running your course means you can feel confident you are leaving your participants satisfied they’ve got what they came for. You’ll also get direct feedback about the content you’re creating and where you might need to add more or simplify what you’ve already got. From here you can improve your pre-prepared content and move toward self-study courses.
(3) Run a workshop
Delivering your content live for a group is a really quick way of sussing out how much content is enough. There’s nothing like the blank stares of overwhelm and rolled eyes of boredom to tell you if you’re pitching at the right level (just kidding!).
But seriously, getting live face-to-face feedback is a great way of finding your sweet spot of ‘just enough’.
Pick 1 theme or module or an overview of your topic that a live audience might be interested in and run a 2-3 hr workshop on it. What you can reasonably cover in 2-3 hours is a good indication as to how much content to put in a weekly course module.
If you do these 3 things you’ll soon find your ‘just enough’ sweet spot and feel confident that you’re delivering your material at the right level and pace for your participants.
And remember – happy participants = repeat customers, glowing testimonials and good feelings for you.