The premise of telling a bunch of business owners the mechanics and strategies of blogging as a marketing strategy doesn’t immediately bring up mental images of having fun learning and a room filled with lots of laughter. However, that’s exactly what happened at last week’s “Better Business Blogging” class. It was taught by me, hosted at InsideWorks, and attended mainly by some of the kick-ass businesswomen associated with Curacy.com. But that just goes to show you: get the right people together and even the most dry topics can become ridiculously fun.
How did it end up that way? Well, one topic that moved us off the ‘boring’ path was when we talked about pictures. One attendee, in building a company culture that emphasizes team rather than hierarchy, decided to only use people wearing masks when they took company photos. We talked about the positives of actual human faces, but there’s certainly an element of Mardi Gras that comes to mind when you think of everyone at work in masks, right?
I may have influenced you a little earlier on by suggesting that the class was just “telling.” As a teacher, I realize that there’s a lot of telling that has to happen if a class is going to cover material at any kind of speed, but learning needs to be interactive. Evidence shows that having fun learning (or really any of the emotional reaction that interaction can evoke) helps to increase attention and cement the learning in the brain. Interaction is also a good element to add to your blog, which is why you often see blogs with questions at the end, or a challenge, or a call for comments. Let’s just say that with this group last week, it didn’t take much to get the interaction going. Some audiences are a little slow to warm up, but not this crowd. We got some great ideas flowing. notwithstanding the occasional suggestion of using “Tumblr style pictures” to boost traffic (our in-class euphemism for more racy and salacious content).
The real reason it was such a blast, though, was that it was a partnership. Not only was I interested in help them, but they didn’t just sit passively and absorb what I said before going home. Instead, they were active in (warning: jargon!) co-creating the learning experience. For a creator of content, that’s always a joy. When the students are clearly taking what’s being presented, thinking about it, connecting it to their own situation, and using that to generate even more stuff—whether ideas, or deeper questions, or whatever—that’s what makes teaching rewarding. When students are having fun learning, the teacher usually has more fun teaching.
In the end, the class was a blast. It was hugely successful. I mean, going into it I didn’t expect that we’d all get so into the ideas of interaction, and getting people involved, and using human faces in blog photos that the whole “Charlie’s Angels” thing would happen. But it did, and there’s the proof! (Though I don’t think John Bosley wore a bow tie, did he?)