In a recent post on multi-module coaching programs, I mentioned using worksheets and other handouts as a way of increasing the perceived value of your teleseminars.
In reality, all online events, no matter how big or small, should incorporate some kind of handout that the audience needs to download and preferably print out.
Having a physical piece of paper in front of your audience helps to focus attention and keeps people from wandering onto Facebook or other distractions. Handouts also serve as physical reminders of your calls after they end, selling for you every time they are seen on desks or in notebooks.
Even a simple agenda or a list of key takeaways is better than no handout at all.
Worksheets vs Handouts
Worksheets are more involved handouts that do exactly what they say: they require a certain amount of WORK for your call’s participants. The more work you can get your participants to do with you on your call, the more committed they become to the buying process.
That’s because selling is a process of conditioning buyers to take steps with you. An easy first step, of course, is simply, “Come to my call on this date.” Once you get them to the call, a great next step is, “Download this worksheet, and print it out,” followed by, “Let’s go through this exercise together.”
The more you can get people to be active participants instead of passive listeners, the more likely it is that you’ll get them to take more involved and committed steps that come later. And that increases the chances that they’ll buy when they’re looking at your order form, credit card in hand, thinking to themselves, “Should I do this?”
Advanced marketers can even get the audience to download and print out call materials before the call begins, e.g., “To get ready for this call, download the attached worksheet and think through the questions. We’ll cover them in more detail on the call.” When successful, this kind of pre-call “homework” builds deeper commitment right out of the gate.
Of course, there is some risk when you ask for active participation if you ask for too much. When people are buying, they don’t want to work too much—yet. So for certain sales events and preview calls, you need to find the right kinds of handouts and worksheets to include. The purpose is to focus attention and build commitment without overwhelming people.
The simplest and easiest kind of worksheet is a fill-in-the-blank worksheet. In this kind of worksheet, you list the key learnings or takeaways for your call, leaving certain phrases or words empty that the audience needs to fill in.
More complex worksheets are designed to get your clients and prospects generating their own ideas in boxes or steps, while you lead them through a creative thinking process. Longer-form problems should be broken down into multiple steps across several sheets, following a designed thinking process. When done well, it’s almost magical how a well-designed worksheet can lead to creative breakthroughs.
Here are a few worksheet examples from a recent course I taught on building multi-module coaching programs:
Why Worksheets Work
Why do worksheets create breakthroughs? One reason is the size of the sheet of paper itself. As a society, we didn’t settle on the 8.5 x 11 (or A4) paper size by accident. We settled on this general size of paper because it’s ideal for grasping the fullness of a complex idea at a single glance. That’s because the idea is constrained to the sheet of paper. By capturing the totality of an idea on a single sheet of paper, we’re forced to think before committing anything to it, bringing rigor and structure to our thinking.
Creative people tend to hate the idea of being constrained in anything, but creativity doesn’t just thrive with constraints, it requires them. Constraints force BREVITY, CLARITY, and FOCUS. There are “right sizes” for lots of things in life. The most successful songs of all time are roughly 3-minutes long, 200-pages is the right length for books, 20-minutes is about right for TV sitcoms, two hours is the right constraint for movies, and the ideal constraint for learning a complex idea is a single sheet of paper. By limiting the total size of the medium, the most interesting and novel concepts rise to the surface.
The other reason worksheets work is that they require people to write on them longhand. When forced to write something out longhand (versus using a computer keyboard) the mind slows down. When our minds slow, the actual neurons in our brains behave differently than they do when we use electronic media. And that allows for new connections and creativity to break through to the surface of consciousness, increasing the chances of getting those “ah-ha” moments.
Compile Worksheets and Other Materials into a Workbook
For longer multi-module programs, you can encourage the audience to store their course materials in a 3-ring binder—a workbook. For those of you who are more advanced or selling higher-end courses, you might want to actually mail a branded binder out to your course participants, with or without the printed materials, depending on the cost of the course.
Let’s face it: what you teach is valuable, and it deserves its own binder in an accessible place on your clients’ desks or in their workspaces. As they go through your materials, they’ll want to underline and highlight things, doggy-ear important pages, take notes in the margins, and more. It’s a workbook, so encourage people to work in it.
But it all begins with habits formed when people first begin attending your calls, by keeping them focused and paying attention using creatively-designed handouts and worksheets.