An Idea…and a Blank Page, Part II

Last week we began on the challenge of creating quality content (whether it is for a book or some other information product) in which you can engage your audience. If you haven’t read the first part of this article, please click here to do so before continuing forward.

I indicated that more than anything else, you needed three elements first:

  • an idea (and what kind of outcome you want this idea to help create)
  • genuine knowledge and expertise on the topic or idea
  • true passion about the topic.

Where so many business people find themselves lacking is writing ability–at least the level of writing skill that would enable them to create meaningful quality content quickly and easily.

During my ten-plus years working in capital fund raising, much of my work involved the production of documentary style-public relations video programs. A major part of this process was conducting on-camera interviews with community and business leaders. These interviews were more or less open conversations, in which the interviewees spoke from their experience and expertise…and often fueled by their passion.

Here is how you can discover your own, engaging content, whether it’s for a white paper, a series of articles, a full length book, or any other form of Intellectual Property that you wish to use to grow your business.

Step One: Craft a Discussion Outline.

Outline whatever topics you wish to address. If you wanted to craft a white paper on a specific topic, solution or issue, you would need to sit down and put an outline together. If we were writing copy for a company’s launch of a new, rebuilt website, we would start with the proposed site outline. This outline might also be reworked into a series of interview questions.

Step Two: Following the Discussion Outline, Conduct a Documentary-Style Interview,on Video.

Interviews have long been a part of content creation and discovery. These days there is no excuse NOT to take a few extra steps to record on camera an engagement that needs to take place anyway. If you can, set it up professionally, with additional lighting if necessary (Even if the initial objective is not an edited video, you want to capture it as though it were.).

The setting is simple: the speaker (expert) is on camera, wearing a microphone, and looking at and speaking directly to the interviewer—and not the camera (this is “documentary style”). The interviewer, with the Discussion Outline as a guide, conducts an open, relaxed conversation with the subject. In most cases, it is best that the interviewer NOT be an expert in the subject area like the speaker, but has the capacity to understand, ask pointed follow-up questions, and thus convey what is said for the target audience (who are most often NOT experts).

The additional benefit of a non-expert is that he or she will likely bring a viewpoint that is relevant to the audience, but not obvious to the interviewee.

During the course of the on-camera conversation, the interviewee is also encouraged to make informative points, but also back those points up with stories and examples. But it is all done in a relaxed setting, with a spirit of teaching and advisory.

Step Three: Transcribe.

This is vitally important. It is typically an outsourced service, and you want the transcription to be as accurate as possible, although it need not be so literal that it includes pauses, or “ums” or other superfluous expressions that we all use when we speak.

When printed (yes, it will amount to many pages!), you hold in your hands that first rough draft of whatever it is you ultimately wish to create, be it a white paper, a series of articles, or the first chapter of your new book. Take your pick of any…or do them all.

Bonus: Not only do you have written content created, you have raw, high-quality VIDEO that can be edited into anything you wish.

Step Four: Rewrite & Repurpose.

Indeed, the spoken word and the written word are completely different animals. To take what one says in conversation and translate it into readable prose often requires thorough editing, and often a rewrite. But for those of us who wish to transform our ideas and passion into into a solid, first draft of true Intellectual Property, this process is powerful. It also takes any concern of plagiarism and copyright infringement completely off the table.

Remember, this process is not about creation—it is discovery of what you have already created over the course of your service. Your Intellectual Property is a true business asset that enhances not just the value you can bring to your prospects and clients, but adds to the value of your business itself. And unlike vehicles and technology, this asset is far less likely to depreciate.

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