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What If We Put As Much Effort into Writing Blog Posts as Public Speaking?

In just under 2 weeks I’ll be standing on this stage at the beautiful Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in Portland, giving a keynote at World Domination Summit in front of just under 3000 people.

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It is an incredible honour to be invited to speak at this event and I’m very grateful to Chris for the invitation – but honestly – the thought of standing in front of 3000 to give a 45 minute talk make me a little nervous!

As a result, you can imagine that over the last few months I’ve been putting considerable time into preparation!

I have:

  • Filled many pages in notebooks with ideas and notes
  • Mind-mapped the talk many times, on whiteboards in my office
  • Spent hours fine tuning my keynote/powerpoint presentation
  • Talked with family and friends many times about the points I’m sharing
  • Read many articles, books and watched many videos on the topic I’m talking about
  • Started practicing the talk and honing how it flows. This is something I’ll do a lot more of.

I’ve already put 50+ hours into preparing for this 45 minute keynote and I’ll put more in over the next couple of weeks.

Yesterday, as I was working on the talk I found myself comparing the preparation of this talk for 3000 people to the process I go through when writing a blog post. There are some definite similarities (and I’ll cover them in a future post) but there is one difference that hit me like a tonne of bricks.

I spend considerably less time on blog posts, despite the fact that they have the potential to reach a lot more people.

Here on ProBlogger this blog receives around 20,000 visitors a day.

While a single blog post doesn’t get read by all of them… over its lifetime it has the potential to be read by many, many more.

However, I’ve never ever spent 50+ hours on a blog post!

A blog post certainly is different to a keynote. For starters, there is a lot less content. I have written some long posts in my time but none would take 45 minutes to read! Even so, I can’t help but wonder what would happen if we put as much effort into crafting each blog post as preparing for a public presentation.

What do you think?

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Geoffrey says:

    If we put as much effort into blog writing as public speaking, we would not be able to publish nearly as many blog posts as most bloggers do and we would lose reader interest. I doubt most readers expect long, drawn out and extravagant posts like they would expect from a key note or similar speech. Blogs are typically shorter as well, meaning there is less of a need for as much prep work. It’s a good concept to consider, and it shows where our priorities are, but they are different things entirely in my opinion (with the tie being that they both reach thousands of people – depending on the size of the blog/event).

    • Great point Geoffrey, the expectations are different between a consumer of a blog post verses a great public speech. I wont spend 45 minutes reading a blog post.

      • Geoffrey says:

        Me neither. I can listen to a 45 minute speech (though may get bored in the middle), but there’s no way I’ll read one blog post for nearly that long. 15 minutes is my max most of the time.

        • Eric says:

          Same here. I have no problem listening to a 45 minutes speech but the maximum I will spend reading a blog post is about 15 minutes (even informal ones that are funny). Also, I don’t spend much time preparing for public speaking since this is one of my greatest fears. I’d rather write short blog posts all day than do one speech. If anyone has any tips on how to overcome this fear it would be much appreciated.

    • yazeed says:

      Thank you for a wonderful article

  2. Jake Bauer says:

    Interesting discussion point, but if we really spent that much time on each post, we’d never post anything! Good luck on your presentation.

  3. Darren, as one of the 3,000 people that will see you speak in-person at WDS… thank you for all the work you’re putting into your talk! Sure, you’re spending much more time on the presentation than you did on this blog post, but think about the impact potential.

    You’ve verbally spoken to many people at many events before, so you know the intimacy and intensity that the verbal word carries. That doesn’t even factor in the YouTube/Vimeo replays a good presentation will get, which could be larger (and more impactful) than any written content.

    Plus, having 20,000 people (potentially) read your words on one day (while heavily skimming) can’t match having 3,000 people (intently) watching you and hearing your words for 45 minutes. I for one can’t wait to see and hear what you have in store for us.

    P.S. I spent 50+ hours preparing for my recent five minutes Ignite Minneapolis talk in front of 400 people and I know that every second was time well spent. I’d love to get the chance to speak to 3,000 people for 45 minutes and prepare my butt off for it. You’re going to rock this!

  4. If, as content creators we all put this into practice wherever we left a fingerprint on the web imagine how quickly we could reshape the landscape of the internet. What if we used this as a way to hold ourselves and each other accountable? We could be honest with our fellow writers and ask, “Did you use Darren’s 50+ rule on that article”? You should create a blog badge – that gives blogs the ability to join, commit to spending the time necessary to write quality posts, and then we could put that badge on our site. I think it would raise the awareness for us all.

    Great post, Darren.

    God Bless,

    Matt Sullivan

  5. I think if you look at the time you spend crafting blog posts that would take 45 minutes to read, you spend a significant amount of time in preparation. I think all of our content would be better though if we consistently scheduled a specific amount of time each week dedicated only to blogging. I try to write something every day even though I don’t post every day but it is a challenge. Practice leads to better content.

  6. Prajwal says:

    Well, best wishes for your speech! I guess that will go well and yes you’ve really devoted a lot of your time for the 45 min speech.But, its always good to over prepare. :)

  7. Gaspare says:

    I agree with you. In my field, modern history, when I am invited to give a lecture of 45-50 minutes, I have to spend at least 10-15 hours to prepare, and, at most, listening to me at 100-150 people, while if I write an article about a certain theme about modern history, this is read on the first day at least the same number of people, and then I just post in the archives of the site, besides the fact that I can have the opportunity, through the blog, to sell my books.
    Thanks.
    Gaspare

    P.s.: sorry for my english!

  8. Darren, I write between 6 to 15 blog posts/articles daily for this exact reason.

    How much did Lebron James practice on his jumpshot to expand his game and become, by far, the best basketball player in the world? Over 10,000 hours, he estimates.

    I spend 3, 4 or 5 hours daily, writing, because where my attention and energy goes, grows.

    People who think this is “too much writing” fail to realize that the top pros in any niche worked on improving their skills more than any other folks in their niche.

    Super question buddy, thanks for sharing!

    Ryan

  9. Andrew Grant says:

    My question is, by how much has your 45 minute talk improved, due to your 50 hour investment, over what it would have been had you stopped at 25 hours? Or 10? Or less? When does the long tail of diminishing return start to kick in?
    A week ago, I spent many, many hours crafting a blog post which will be published right here (I’m delighted and grateful to say) and getting it right was so important to me that I ended up looping back on myself with rewrites. If I had stopped at half the time, I would have had almost the exact same post, that I did in the end.
    However, although I don’t think the post is any better, I do know more about the subject and I’m sure that’s true for you too, Darren – you’ll definitely be ready for any questions they throw at you.

  10. This is an intriguing question for me, because I rarely, if ever put that kind of work into my blog posts. Of course that’s likely why I receive 5 visitors a day and not 20,000. I think I *could* put that kind of work into blog posts if I had more to say. I need to be more content driven rather than just using my blog as a dumping ground.

  11. Catherine says:

    Good luck with your talk. From what you have outlined, you are certainly well prepared. As with many things in life the anticipation of the event is much worse that the event itself.

    I appreciate your tips and advice on blogging, Darren. As a Virtual Assistant I can draft a blog for my clients (whom I have worked with for some time) fairly quickly, but when it comes to my own I just don’t seem to be able to do it very well.

  12. Hi Darren wishing you all the best in your speech,in my own point of view writing a post for a blog and creating a podcast of a post is done under less tension but giving a public speech?ah all eyes on me.

  13. Travis says:

    I’ll be in the crowd cheering you on. See you there!

  14. Karl Staib says:

    I agree! I’ve actually been writing less frequently and trying to create more epic posts that people remember. This philosophy has really helped me work hard on posts that are much more valuable and spreadable.

    I think the key is to stay true to our audience and hearts. That’s why I’m a big fan of Seth Godin. I know he puts a lot of hard work into his posts even though a lot of them are short. The thing is with him is that his short ones are very powerful. He stays true to himself creates epic content that changes how people think.

    I’m very much looking forward to your talk. You’ll do great.

  15. Its very hard to write than to speak anything when it comes on practical way as already you are putting “50+ hours into preparing for this 45 minute keynote”. This means that one should have the zeal from inside to do blogging, then only one could become successful

    Regards
    Siddhartha Sinha

  16. Great point, I do notice that those posts where I have put the time into really research them and re-write and compose well get the most hits so it is a good reminder to really put your blog where your mouth is so to say.

    Good luck with the speech!

  17. I think the big difference between blogging and public speaking is that with blogging your audience has the option of clicking away after 10 seconds if your post sucks. In a presentation, your audience is stuck with you for 45 minutes of their precious time, so you better make it good!

    Looking forward to seeing you speak at WDS!

  18. Louis says:

    Maybe because an article doesn’t reveal a person as much as public speaking does. It will in time, but public speaking has more of its own challenges.

    In an article, people can’t see that you’re nervous, you can always edit even after you write and you don’t need to look at intimidating faces :)

    What would happen if we put as much effort into each blog post as preparing for a public presentation? I think we need to be careful for not falling into thinking the unnecessary details too much.

  19. I tend to try to write my blog like I would address an audience in a public speaking event. Now, I am in a rural area and have pick up rural country slang but I try more and more each day to use better wording. I have nothing against rural slang or country speak but I would rather have a more professional choice of words. Great blog!

  20. Duran Drake says:

    I think though it take time for creating a content and posting the content but it get the surety of the blog to attract the quality readers and quality traffic in terms of Blog traffic so I guess it can be a great idea to publish such a blog which is undoubtedly to be get sucess.

  21. eric says:

    Yeah right, it is public speaking or writing presentation, the main goal in to ensure the audience/reader about the topic that we presented

  22. eric says:

    It inspire me to maintain my blog to get more visitors, thanks Darren

  23. Edson Hale says:

    Blog post is like a recorded drama and public presentation means a theatre performance where you get the feedback on the spot as:
    Thunderous applause if they like your presentation
    Sparkling looks if your presentation is interesting
    Big yawning if your work is boring
    Silent bunking if you fail to make it
    For blog post the only reaction of good post is commenting or like while for a boring post you get your bounce rate higher by the passage of time

    • Joseph Klem says:

      I agree w/Edson. Stakes are higher since you’re facing your audience live and feedback is immediate. Also interesting that many people use ghost-writers to blog for them, but you can’t hire out the delivery of a big speech.

  24. Gjivan says:

    Well, If we put the intensity and potential to prepare a blog post as like preparing public speaking, it would certainly be a full blown content rich of well researched and high-quality information. But, i think in-spite of such preparation, the speed and momentum of publishing content will definitely slow down.

  25. Cat fyson says:

    I think the danger of spending too long on a blog post is over-thinking it and turning it in to content so long and detailed that no one will want to read it.

    As Michelle says, people have the option of clicking away if they don’t like your post – although you would of course prefer people not to do that, in a way it is certainly better than someone walking out of your talk!

  26. Bella says:

    Just keep your article simple yet conversational language, it will create your article feel more
    sociable and your readers will take self passion in your article because they feel you are talking directly to them.

  27. Mike Martel says:

    Great point. All too often we forget of the audience behind the screen(s) on the other end. Being in person makes us afraid of looking foolish and having to face it live in person. This fear motivates the preparation.

    I really wish people would take more care not just on blog posts, but all their comments on social media. I really think most wouldn’t say what they say on social media in public.

  28. Darren, I think that we have to put the same effort, quality and heart in every blog post or pubic speech that we do can make a difference. By making the best of every information presented to our audience, we can leave a positive or negative impact. Let’s give to the readers something that will feed their minds, heart, and souls. Great Article!

  29. jerrylewis says:

    Blog posting and giving a 45 minute speech are two different undertakings. If a blogger spends 50 or more hours in a 1000 word article, this means few blog posts will be published.

  30. Rosa De Cyan says:

    Firts, congratulations.

    I’ve never talked to 3,000 people, and we probably will, so I have no idea what you feel when you are not used or is the first time, but I think it has to be as prepared as possible about what treated. Knowing the subject well, come on.

    As for the blogs and its dissemination (I have three: one on creative writing, photography another explaining a topic, and also another photo of concept), I argue that we need to watch much content not to bore the personal constant long explanations or entries not to assimilate or the previous day. Eye! Not to bomb with too much information.

    I think it’s important to label but each post and, very very important: blogs visit and comment on others. If other people feel valued in their work, it is easier for me they value me.

    A greeting

    http://fragmentsde-i-realitat.blogspot.com.es/
    http://imatgesiemocions.blogspot.com.es/

    Rosa De Cyan

  31. I think this approach can be successful. I see a lot of 50 hour posts being those ultimate how to guides, or ultimate resource guides and I think they have a lot of potential. Publishing what is effectively an ebook as a free post is a good way to differentiate yourself from everyone else.

  32. Jean Gogolin says:

    What do I think? I think you should ditch the PowerPoint. It’s a crutch. I speak as someone who spent 20 years as an executive speechwriter at IBM and elsewhere.

    • Darren Rowse says:

      Jean – actually my powerpoints are very much about visual stimulation and not as much on summarizing content. I use a great image and usually a word or two (at most a short sentence) on each slide. The words on each slide become my notes and triggers for my next section. The longest part for me is finding the best images to use.

  33. Putting so much time into a blog post wouldn’t be efficient. As others said, wouldn’t be able to have as much content or keep reader interest. However, there should be a good amount of effort put into it, so it doesn’t look like filler.

    Content with specific purpose, like guides should have significant time invested in them though.

  34. Some time a ago I was a scientist, and as some will realize, scientific writing is “dry” or “matter of fact”. One day a senior scientist and a member of the Royal Society gave me some advice on writing that has been extremely valuable to me – both in relation to public speaking and writing. He said, “…whenever you are writing, whether scientific papers or popular articles, remember that you are telling your reader a story. If you write with this frame of mind your written work will be more widely accepted”.

    I have held to this “telling a story” approach and it has really helped me communicate more effectively with those who read my stuff. I have also spoken in public and found that using the “telling a story” mentality, the presentation seems to go more fluently and the relationship with the audience more “connected”.

    Depending on the material, I may take quite a long time in preparing it whether a blog or a speech, maybe too long. This is because I have respect for those who will read it, and so want to make the experience for them as pleasant and informative as possible.

    You see, with the “telling a story” approach, your focus is on those you are writing for or those that are listening to you; it’s not about you.

    All the best, Mary.

  35. I think you’d have a lot less posts :) I’ve seen you on video you’ll do great. And I’m sure they will love what you have to share.

  36. Given your time and effort, I think I’d love to be there and hear what you have to say.