How much content is too much content?

This is another one of those questions I get asked all the time – how much content is too much content to include in my workshop, presentation or course? The answer this time, is really quite simple.

In short?

Give enough:

  1. reasons to motivate your clients to WANT to learn it,
  2. theory to help them understand HOW to do it,
  3. examples that SHOW it done ‘properly’ right through to ‘poorly’, (so they can see for themselves all the different ways it can be done and learn how to avoid mistakes),
  4. activities that give them the opportunity to TRY it for themselves.

If you’re rattling on with theory that doesn’t help them achieve that end aim of TRYing it out for themselves, and you’ve given them clear examples of HOW to do it properly (and how NOT to do it poorly), then CUT THE RAMBLE and get to the chase.


If you miss any one of these steps, your clients are going to:

  1. Not be engaged or really caring whether they learn about it or not,
  2. Not really grasp the basic mechanics behind how to do it properly,
  3. Have no idea whether they’re doing it ‘right’ or not, and
  4. Not even bother giving it a go or knowing whether they’re capable of getting it right.

And THAT, is the epitome of a learning experience that leaves your clients frustrated, disappointed, and not impressed with the facilitator. Exactly the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve. Right?

Tell me I’m wrong.

Now. You see, I like to practice what I preach.

Do you see what I’ve done here?

Have a look at the article from the top, down to this point.

There was a question posed: How much content is too much content?

First up, I gave you: 

the THEORY (the basic mechanics behind the answer to the question), and then

the WHY (what happens when you don’t do it the right way).

What should I be giving you next?

An example. Hmmm Ok. Here we go.


Play a game with me.

Imagine you’re learning a foreign language.

Image from Flickr by theilr. Licensed under the Creative Commons.

If I put this thing in front of your face and told you the word for it was ZUZU, what would you say the English word for it is?

  • First answer – go on. Don’t think about it too hard.
  • Right. Say ZUZU 20 times while looking at it.
  • Got it? Understood? Right. Now I’m going to test you on it.
  • So what’s your answer then? What’s the English word for ZUZU?
  • If you said pen, YOU’RE WRONG.
  • How are you feeling? Hope you enjoyed your learning experience. Hope you come back for the next lesson and rave about my teaching skills.

Image from Flickr by theilr. Licensed under the Creative Commons.


Now unfortunately, this is what a lot of content delivery looks like online.

It’s just THEORY THEORY THEORY, with little explanation, demonstration, or chance to test your knowledge out.

By the by, how stupid did you feel saying it 20 times and not really knowing what it was? Then being told (more than likely) that you were WRONG when you more than likely were thinking of the most obvious answer – PEN? Bit stupid right? Sadly this is how a lot of clients or students feel when they don’t get enough demonstration or theory, then BAM are expected to test their knowledge or ability with the concept. Stupid, a bit vulnerable and quite frankly not enticed to come back for another round of humiliation.

Like I said. The epitome of a terrible learning experience.

Ready to see what a proper learning experience should look and feel like?

Play the game again with me, properly this time.


Imagine you’re learning a foreign language.

If I put this thing in front of your face and told you the word for it was ZUZU, what would you say the English word for it is?

  • First answer – go on. Don’t think about it too hard.
  • Did I hear you say pen? Well it is a pen, but it’s other things too. Can you think of other English words that would describe that pen?
  • You might be thinking….  #long #skinny #small #plastic #useful #convenient
  • Well, all those things are right, but what if I showed you these other pictures. What do they, and the pen all have in common? What’s the English word for ZUZU?
Image from Flickr by theilr. Licensed under the Creative Commons.

All images courtesy of Flicker and used with permission. Click on the image to see full attributions.

  • If you said RED, you’re right! Hoorah! ZUZU means RED in English!
  • Now. Can you find something immediately that’s ZUZU?
  • #inreallifeyou’reholdingaredthing

And immediately YOU the learner knows you’ve nailed it, and ME the facilitator knows it too.

How are you feeling after THAT little learning experience?

Better than the first round? I hope so! Everyone will interpret your ‘theory’ differently, depending on their perspective, experience and background.

It’s YOUR job as the facilitator to ensure that everyone gets a chance to interpret it the way you were intending them to – and you’ll only know that if you’ve followed the steps I’ve recommended.


So I’ve practiced what I preach.

I’ve given you:

  • the motivation (you want people to recommend you based on their success with your content)
  • the theory (step by step instructions on what to do, and what NOT to do)
  • examples (the ZUZU game, version 1 and 2, AND this whole article is a demonstration!)
  • and now a chance for you to try it out yourself.


Go find a piece of your content. Can you find those 4 steps in it? If not, you know where you problem lies! What you’ve seen in this article, is just a snippet of what’s in the full lesson below, on Scaffolding a learning experience.


Ready to learn how to layer the learning experience, so that your clients can immediately use their new knowledge and create real change in their own lives?

Awesome, because there’s a short, online tutorial and a worksheet that helps you plan out each of the workshops or presentations within your course, so that they’re layered in a way that your clients will not only understand the new concepts, but seem them in action and be ready to take action themselves. It goes through the specific language you should be using and how to layer it effectively, not only within the modules, but also within the whole course itself.

The lesson is available here. 

It’s located in the FOUNDATIONS Level of the Library, in the Curriculum Development course:

Lesson 2.2: Scaffolding

Click on the above link to be taken directly to the Lesson. If you’re already  a member of the Curriculum Development course, make sure you’re logged in! If you’re not, you’ll be redirected to the page where you can become a member.

Great content stuck in your head & hard drives?

So much to think about . . .

>> What to put in & leave out, in what order?

>> How to package it? Or deliver it? Online?

>> Will it just be a waste of time & money?

>> Will the content actually help people and help me build my reputation as the go-to-professional in my field?

My quiz can help!

Do this 3 minute quiz, and find out exactly which areas you need help with.

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