My Udemy Experience – maximise learning by creating

If learning is created by or can be accelerated by creating, then Udemy should be a part of your development plan.

Around 2 years ago I stumbled upon Udemy. Wasn’t looking for an online learning environment and can’t remember my path to the site, but there I was. I was immediately attracted to the wide array of courses and the “practitioner” level instruction. I was an instant customer and have been ever since. My experience with the courses was mixed. A number were outstanding and a small number missed the mark.

My real learnings have happened since I made the decision to create a Sales Prospecting course and publish it on Udemy.


The learnings happened on a number of levels, starting with the determination of what I knew enough about, that warranted publishing.

That aside, I signed up to Udemy’s Facebook forum that is specifically designed for course creators (not Udemy employees) to provide advice, tips and support. This forum is informed and responsive – I was gaining so much knowledge simply by reading the threads.

In constructing my course, I needed to gain a level of understanding and proficiency in audio and video production. On the surface, I figured this was no more than getting the right gear and starting. Turns out I was a little wrong. Equipment matters but there is a whole lot more to it as I soon realized. In summary, it is all to do with preparation and technique. Seems a bit obvious as I write the statement.

I know have a published course, but most significant to me is I now have a level of understanding and skill such that I have produced and published an online course and a number of podcasts.

If you have the inclination, I can only suggest you set a publishing outcome to drive your focus. That decision made, I encourage you to get onto Udemy and build out a course.

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My case for mindmaps being at the centre of your writing workflow

Working in small teams and often in isolation creates a dependence on yourself and also opens up the possibilities in using productivity tools and your personalized techniques.

I have been in a selling role for some time and largely dependent on my own activities to develop opportunities for my sales pipeline. This involves a lot of face-to-face as you would expect but I also create targeted communications to attract prospects’ attention on the path to gaining executive access.

In broadening my capabilities I have added a few tools which I will reference in this article:

1. ThinkPad X1 Carbon – Lenovo laptop.

2. Evernote – note-taking and collaboration software.

3. ATR2100-USB – a microphone that is external to the PC and USB connected.

4. Dragon – voice-to-text software.

5. MindManager – mindmapping software.

6. PowerPoint.

7. Camtasia – video editor software.

8. PrompSmart – teleprompter app.

9. Vimeo – video storage and sharing subscription.

I will explain my workflow from brainstorming to outline to content development through to text and video production.


Have you ever been in a team session with a flurry of ideas and a whiteboard and post-it notes and a facilitator and you don’t have a way to recreate this environment on your own – well there is an option.

I didn’t buy MindManager, Dragon or the ATR2100 for personal brainstorming sessions but it is a great combination. I was brought to this solution out of my frustration with the broken flow of thought, stop and write or key into software and start again…then to recover from the pause.

The way that I tackle this task now is to:

  1. Open a MindManager document.

2. Attach the mic to the PC.

3. Start the Dragon software.

4. Double-click in an open space on the mindmap and start brainstorming into the “bubble” on the screen.

5. I press “enter” and “enter” again which closes the first thought and opens the next “bubble” and I say the next thought and watch it converted to text.

6. Which means – at a level of pace – it goes:

  • Talk.
  • Enter.
  • Enter.
  • Talk.
  • Repeat until you are finished.

You now have a screen of thoughts which you assemble into logical groupings as branches of the mindmap. From there you can prioritize.

The beauty of this personal brainstorming approach is that it is equally effective in a group if you have the mic and repeat the words from the team member and watch the screen fill up in front of the room. There is an immediate productivity gain when you and the team move seamlessly into the topic grouping and prioritisation.

With this step complete, I know to move to content creation.


I won’t go through the mechanics of creating the content but MindManager offers efficiency when moving from the brainstorming to outlining to publish.

Before going to this step I would like to share an element of the software that can play a role on a personal level, when managing team input and when communicating your plan with managers or collaborators. That is to create a timeline.

MindManager is able to treat each element of the mindmap, from the subject through every branch level if you want that level of granularity, as a task that can have project attributes associated at any and all levels.

To go seamlessly from ideation, to outline to content creation with project attributes is powerful and the mindmap can now be published in a variety of formats:

1. As a project plan in a Gantt chart that can be exported to an actual project planning application.

2. PDF for general status viewing.

3. To a Word document with each of the branches as a sub-point.

When I reach the actual writing, I mostly use Evernote to capture my first draft content (actually doing that right now) which gives me access across multiple devices and I take the content and paste it into the mindmap notes field associated with the relevant mindmap branch as in the screenshot below.

By repeating this process I have an automatic backup of content via Evernote and a composite document as created inside MindManager.

This method also lends itself to external content creators – you paste their input into your single mindmap outline document that is now becoming more than the outline of each additional piece of content.

In addition, you are able to update the progress of each element/task in the project plan.


Whilst this is my approach to the creation when it comes to publishing, I take one of the following approaches.

Publish to Text

Barely warrants a heading? Probably, though there can be an efficiency based on the mindmapping software. I rely on MindManager for most of my mindmapping and the structure as detailed above can be achieved with other applications I expect, but I will explain the MindManager steps from creation to publishing.

You go to the “File” menu then to “Share” then to “Word”. From there you can choose from a few output subtleties – export – you now have all of your mindmap content down to the text under each heading in a single Word document.

Publish to Video

As a writer, you may want to approach a certain audience using video. If so, you will first need some extra tools. At a minimum, you will need software. I use Camtasia but have used Screencast-O-Matic which is an excellent application at a different price point and will meet a large number of use-cases.

Camtasia screen

At a base level, I take screen grabs of mindmap branches and paste onto a PowerPoint screen and repeat. I then use the text at a detail level and use this for my narration script associated with the relevant slides. I have recently taken an approach where I use a teleprompter app on my iPhone or iPad to lay the narration down and then associate the PowerPoint slides to deliver a smooth and professional representation. Well worth a try – I actually recommend it as an effective method.

My next step is to publish via Vimeo. I am able to make the access private and as such create personalized messaging through the narration for prospects and clients.

Templated Productivity

Ultimately I have a process with simple and repeatable steps that support my own work requirements and is easily scaled to include team activities.

I am sure there are many varied workflows and I would be keen to hear how other people assemble their favorite tools into a content creation process.

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Better writing from better audio tips – thanks

Writing is communication. This is clear. Better writing can come from many paths, many of which are shared and discussed right here at The Writing Cooperative and more broadly across Medium.

Where might not be so obvious is a site that is dedicated to communication through audio – Transom, A Showcase and Workshop for New Public Radio.

Transom looks at audio storytelling from every conceivable angle. From structure, voice, structure, delivery plus so much more. It is no different to what we set out to do right here in text and yet it is so unfamiliar you could miss the incredible learning opportunities without trying.

As you can see, there are topics that have relevance to the written storytelling.

One aspect I have found most useful is the discipline of chunking and re-assembling the story to create the emotion. No extra content but construct for connection.

As the focus of Transom is on the conversation, there is an implicit reminder to reinvent our listening skills. Too easy to dive in without opening up for input.

Also, Transom run workshops of various lengths and in different locations. Well worth a look.

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