Connections – subtle and not so subtle

Many of us can remember singing this song as a child, frequently with hand motions as we pointed to the specific bones mentioned, working our way up from our toes to the top of our head.

Dem Dry Bonesskeleton
Your toe bone connected to your foot bone
Your foot bone connected to your ankle bone
. . .
Your shoulder bone connected to your neck bone
Your neck bone connected to your head bone
Traditional Children’s Song by James Weldon Johnson

This was a fun introduction to anatomy although I’m sure none of us made that connection at the time.

When creating an information product we need to be aware of the connections between the parts. How are they organized? There are several styles that are frequently used. Examples in this article will deal with weight loss, a common concern.

  1. The first is the standard problem/solution format, used by many people as a way to respond to Frequently Asked Questions.  You can work with a wide range of questions, subdividing them into common topics. You can pick five, seven, or ten common problems and address each one more thoroughly. For example: What are the foods that will satisfy your appetite while providing good nutrition? Followed by a paragraph or two (or chapter) about the foods that fit this category.
  2. You can use a system similar to David Letterman’s Top Ten (fill in the blank) and actually number each issue you discuss. In this instance you are less apt to use the q & a format. E.g.: The Top Ten Myths surrounding weight loss followed by a discussion of the truth associated with the topic.
  3. We don’t often think of organizing a discussion of weight loss chronologically, but it can be done. Break down a person’s life into successive periods and discuss the best nutrition habits for each – childhood, young adulthood, middle age, seniors. Address typical (and optimal) activity levels for each time of life and the best type of diet for each.
  4. Your product can be divided into different self-contained modules that don’t necessarily build on each other. Arrange them in the order you typically present them to your clients – nutrition; suggested menus or recipes; the use of supplements; a discussion of exercise from getting off the couch and starting to move more to participating in extreme sports; getting enough sleep; mindset issues that could be a barrier to making a lasting change in behaviors.
  5. Another way of organizing your presentation could be to compare and contrast two or more ‘popular’ diets – the South Beach diet with the Mediterranean diet with the Fast Metabolism Diet. What things do they treat in a similar way? What things are different in each diet? What is the rationale behind the differences? Which do you recommend and why?
  6. A final way you can organize your material is as a reference document. Pick out the most important topics related to health, nutrition and weight loss and discuss each topic based on common beliefs, current research, best practices, etc. Frequently a reference document will be organized alphabetically.

The organization underlying your product can vary. Your interests, the purpose of the product, the needs of your clients will dictate which form you choose. The important thing to remember is that your client needs to be able to follow the connection from the toe bone to the foot bone all the way to the head bone. If you jump around a lot your client will get confused. As my business coach has said on many occasions – the confused mind doesn’t buy – it walks (or runs) in the other direction.

Have fun with your connections, and do be sure you include them. If this part of the process is confusing to you,  schedule a complimentary Extraordinary Products, Extraordinary Results Exploratory  Session to discuss ways to assure that your next information product has clear connections.

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