In order for your public scholarship platform to be both impactful and sustainable, you need a detailed plan, or a syllabus, that guides the kind of content that you create and curate. In the last few blog posts, we have been discussing each of the steps we take at Public Platform with our clients.
Let’s review what our syllabus looks like so far. It should have the following elements:
A description of your target audience: This can include age groups, professions, interests, belief systems, etc. common to audience members that you think would benefit most from your content. You should also describe what needs and desires they might have.
A discussion of the challenges that your audience faces: Your audience will share some external (surface-level), internal (deeper, emotional), and philosophical (relating to beliefs and ideas) challenges. In order to be their guide, you should seek to understand what your audience struggles with.
An explanation of how you will empower your audience: You should think about what your platform will do for your audience in these five categories: personal growth, emotional support, career success, social status, and fulfillment. In this section, you should address the items you listed in the challenges section.
A list of places where your target audience gathers: Look for events, publications, organizations, etc. that your audience gravitates towards. You can use this list to collaborate with or contribute content to these channels and grow your audience.
The very last step in your syllabus is to plan out the themes and topics you want to cover over the course of 12 months.
Structuring your Platform Course
You will want to create a lesson plan that goes into more detail later on, but for this stage, you should think big picture: what knowledge, skills, perspectives, and practices do you want your audience to gain at the end of 12 months? What do they need to experience in each one-month period in order to get there?
At Public Platform, we design syllabi to cover one year’s worth of content, with one theme per month containing 4 or 5 main points, one point per week. While you want to stay flexible, structuring your course like this ahead of time makes it easier not only to execute your plan as you inevitably get busier over the year, but also to turn the syllabus into a proposal for a 12-chapter book that expands on the content that you are sharing over the course of the year.
Use your audience descriptions. You are an expert; you have a lot of knowledge to share. But that doesn’t mean that all of what you know needs to find a place in in this particular course. If you are in doubt about what to focus on, what your scope and sequence should look like, always go back to the descriptions of your target audience that you have already worked on.
Your public work will have the power to create a passionate audience with the potential to become a community and a movement when it helps them solve their external, internal, and philosophical problems, avoid failure, and find success.
Don’t cram in too much. It’s important to remember that, unlike in a college course, your audience base will fluctuate (and generally increase) over time. Even loyal audience members won’t always have read/listened to/watched the last piece of content that you created or shared before seeing the next one. This means that repetition and review will be very important in order for your audience to find your content useful and meaningful.
Leave some breathing room in your plan so that you can go back and review key concepts needed to understand the topic at hand.