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How To Create Powerful Online Course Lessons

Average online course completion rates lie somewhere between 13-20%. That may sound like a lot to you or that may sound like a very low number. 

 

Bottom line is that most people don’t finish online courses and one of the biggest reasons why is that the course content itself isn’t good!

 

It’s like trying to watch a movie but the plot, cast, and acting suck so you end up walking out of the theatre (if you still do that) or finding something else to watch.

 

Today, I’m walking you through my process for creating powerful online course content. This can even apply to your free content as well.

 

These are the frameworks I follow, the things I think about, and the questions I ask that have led me to create content (both free and paid) where people actively tell me how helpful it was for them.

 

You can do the same.

 

Let’s dive in!

 

One Question That Makes a Lesson Powerful

 

Before I ever start building slides or writing the content for my online course lessons, I always ask myself this question…

 

“What is the #1 feeling, insight, or transformation I want my student to walk away with from this lesson?”

 

This question helps me keep the lesson as focused as possible because it allows me to build the rest of the lesson content around this single transformation I want the student to get.

 

Once you’ve done this, now we can start building our lessons around this core transformation.

 

How To Build Transformational Course Lessons

 

Now that you know the #1 feeling, insight, or transformation you want the student to get from this lesson, it’s time to create your course content.

 

Remember that your online course lessons are the small transformations that lead to the big transformation the course is promising.

 

Our goal should be to keep our course lessons as short as possible, but long enough to create a transformation for the student.

 

Here’s the simple framework I use to build every lesson:

 

Start With Why - Tell them at the beginning of each lesson WHY this lesson matters to the overall goal of the course. Use stories, examples, and statistics.

 

Tell Them What They Will Learn - Clearly explain what this person needs to know, do, feel, and believe in order to experience this specific transformation. 

 

Teach Them How - Provide clear action steps, frameworks, and resources to support them in each one of the “What” steps (this is the bulk of your content).

 

Summary/Recap - End by telling them what you told them and sharing the key takeaways you want them to walk away with from the lesson.

 

Pretty simple and straightforward right?

 

This doesn’t need to be complicated. People need information but more importantly, they need to FEEL like they can actually do the thing you’re teaching them to do. 

 

That is what will make your online course lessons so powerful.

 

After you’ve built your course lessons, go back and review them to see if/where you can cut out any unnecessary fluff that doesn’t relate to that course insight or transformation you wanted the student to walk away with.

 

How To Film Your Course Content

 

Once you’ve built out your lessons and cut out all of the fluff, no it’s time to film your course.

 

There are many ways you can build an online course and not all are best for every person. Here are some of the most common ways…

 

Full Production - Multiple camera angles, teleprompters, lighting, special effects, lots of editing, expensive and time-consuming (i.e. Masterclass.com)

 

Talking-Head - One camera angle, little to moderate editing, you have to be on camera, can add pop-ups for visual aid.

 

Live Stream - Record straight from live coaching sessions, these are hands-on, and you can screen share easily, in my opinion, these are great for an add-on lesson but not the full course.

 

Slide Decks - Easy to create, don’t require you on camera, pair with a quality USB microphone, they’re easy to edit, basically free (as long as you have a computer/laptop), and deliver for both visual and auditory learners.

 

I used to think you had to be on camera for the full duration of your course (talking head). It’s not true.

 

In my opinion, slide decks are the best because people can listen with a downloadable audio file for a commute or workout, they can download the slides alone in a PDF if they can’t watch or listen, and they get to read the slides while watching and listening which helps with retention.

 

You can easily use a tool like Apple Keynote to build your slides and record your presentations in HD while also using a nice USB microphone for quality audio (check out this video by MacMost).

 

If you don’t have Keynote, you can use a combination of Google Slides and Loom to record your presentations.

 

The only thing with slide deck courses is that you should still show up on video for an intro video, a “Goodbye” or “Closing Remarks” video, or if you need to be showing someone how to do something like physical exercise.

 

In the end, people care about one thing, “Can you help me get what I want?”. 

 

If you choose to give them that with a full production course, cool. If you would rather create a slide deck presentation, awesome (that’s what I do).

 

It doesn’t really matter as long as your content is powerful and you’re doing what is most enjoyable for you and your audience.

 

Conclusion

 

Now you know how to build powerful and transformational online course lessons.

 

It really comes down to these things…

 

  1. Knowing the specific transformation this lesson will give the student that will be a stepping stone to the big course transformation.
  2. Using the simple framework I shared to give people the Why, What, and How to get that transformation.
  3. Filming your course content in a way that is enjoyable for both you and your audience.

 

Now it’s time to take what you learned here, get out there, and start building some powerful course lessons.

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