I created SpeechDIY because I wanted to enable people – all people – to give brilliant presentations.

It was conceived as a ten-lesson course, a format honed in live lectures with dozens of clients…including a full roster of TEDx speakers. Every time, SpeechDIY delivered. So far, so good.

So now, the problem.

With the intention of scaling this popular series, I tried to turn SpeechDIY into an online course. And every time I did, it was…boring.

This was doubly frustrating for me because, as a part time university lecturer, I was used to getting great reviews on my presentation style from students.  So why was I suddenly such a flat-footed teacher?

It turns out, my problem wasn’t unique. In fact, even Ivy League online courses log a 90% dropout rate. These are the best lecturers in the world, with the brightest tech support behind them. And they were shooting duds.

It’s the Format, Stupid

About a month ago, I had the good fortune to have Isaac Tolpin as a guest on my podcast. Isaac is the co-founder of ConveYour, a new platform for teaching.

According to Isaac, the problem with online education is that most teachers treat it as a digital version of the classroom, not a completely new medium.

This starts with the length of lessons. My online lessons were clocking in at 20 minutes – a very stripped down version of my ‘live’ talks. Isaac told me they should be closer to three, or the time it took for someone to take a quick break from their daily routine. Instead of doing one 20, I should do four three minute lessons.

Then, there was the workbook. I created in-depth workbooks for each of my lessons, thinking they’d give students something to dig into. Wrong. With ConveYour, I’ve thrown out the workbook format, instead opting for a series of short, fun questions and quizzes that enable students to test their learning – while earning points and comparing answers with other students.

Long story short? I jumped right in, and am well into the SpeechDIY course creation process. What’s more, I’m having a blast doing it.

The Update Experiment

In my first podcast with Tolpin, I offered up a challenge: what if I turned the process of course creation into a media experiment – complete with update podcasts describing my progress, problems, and thoughts? Isaac agreed.

That brings us to today.

I’m happy to include our first ‘update’ podcast here. Give it a listen – in addition to taking you inside the process of creating SpeechDIY, it offers up some big ideas on how you can create courseware that will keep consumers engaged, learning and happy.

What Next?

Two things.

First, in two weeks, I’ll have another update podcast with Isaac as I near the end of the course creation process, and we move into other big head-scractchers – How do you market this stuff? What else do I need to do in order for this to work? Stay tuned.

Second, I’d love to give you a peek inside the kimono, and let you try my as-yet-incomplete course. If you simply drop me a line (marc@yourultimatespeech.com), I’d be happy to send you a link to the first units. Love to hear your feedback!

As a brand strategy expert, successful entrepreneur, founder of Your Ultimate Speech, and award-winning author, Marc Stoiber uses simplicity and creativity to help people discover what’s awesome about their business… then helps them tell the world. For more on creating an effective speech for your company, connect with Marc and Your Ultimate Speech on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and sign up to his monthly newsletter.