NLP trick for course creators

~ 2 min read | Category: Newsletters

You’ve heard of NLP, right? It seems like most people have these days.

Well back in 2001, when “neuro-linguistic programming” wasn’t nearly as mainstream as it is now, I attended a training weekend in central London to become a certified practitioner.

(I had no plans to become a full-time NLPer. I just thought it would be a cool thing to learn!)

Looking back, I got really lucky with the trainers. There was Paul McKenna, a household name in the UK as a hypnotist and best-selling self-help author; Michael Breen, a super-smart NLP-trained business coach; and Richard Bandler, the larger-than-life co-creator of NLP itself.

And it was fascinating. I was exposed to a ton of mind-blowing concepts like mirroring, eye access cues and future pacing.

The “big finale” was a fast phobia cure featuring a fellow attendee and a live tarantula. It was like watching a real-life Jedi mind trick. (Adopts Alex Guinness voice) “These are not the arachnids you’re afraid of…”

One of the concepts I still remember is “meta-programs”, which are mental shortcuts that filter our experiences and guide our behaviour.

For example, the “toward / away from” meta-program says that most people are motivated either by moving toward pleasure or away from pain.

And it’s a really useful concept to keep in mind as a course creator.

Sometimes your audience wants something specific (e.g., a new career) and your job as a course creator is to help them get it (or help them get considerably closer). That’s moving toward.

Other times there’s something specific they absolutely don’t want (e.g., a career they hate) and your job is to help them replace it with something better. That’s moving away from.

And while it might seem like two sides of the same coin, whether they’re moving toward or away from will have a big impact on how you design and market your course.

If you’re not sure which of these is your audience’s biggest motivator, ask yourself:

What’s more vivid in their minds right now? The thing they want, or the thing they don’t want?

  • If it’s the first, your course needs to deliver an outcome that’s as close to what they want as humanly possible.
  • If it’s the second, the outcome needs to be a clear and vivid reversal of whatever they’re trying to escape.

Either way, the more effectively you can paint a picture of the bright future your course enables, the easier it’ll be to sell.

See you soon,



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