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Repurposing Material for a Book

2014-0909-112156302A book is different from a seminar, and your seminar materials might make a good book, but not in the form that you use for your seminar.

In writing your book you may discover that what worked in other contexts – a seminar, for example – might not apply in book form.

Some people who have had successful careers as speakers, doing coaching or leading people through processes that create better results in the workplace or in life, need to look over their material to see how it might be reshaped for the different needs of a reading public.

What works before a crowd of people, where your physical presence and visual aids help you communicate, doesn’t work in a book. If you have visuals, you need to think how they might work in a book. If you rely on PowerPoint or video clips, you’ve got to think how your shorthand visual information can be rethought for book form.

At the same time, your voice in public – urging people along, creating an energy-filled atmosphere – can fall flat or seem hollow on the page.

A lot of coaches and seminar leaders find that their material doesn’t have the same power, or the same effect, if it’s simply transcribed onto paper. Oral presentations are quite different from an argument laid out in book form.

So if you’re reorganizing your material from a seminar into what you hope to be a book, here a few things to keep in mind:

• Your speaking style is different from a written one. What sounds jocular and enthusiastic in person can ring hollow or phonily upbeat on the page. Tone it down. You can still be enthusiastic, but you’re not speaking to a crowd but a single reader at a time.

• You cannot rely on visuals to make your point. You have to describe your process carefully so that a reader can picture it – you can’t assume the reader knows what you have in mind or that the reader can simply look at a screen to visualize what you are trying to demonstrate.

• Keep the sales pitch reasonable. Your seminars might upsell people into taking a course, and people are used to that in a life presentation. But in a book, too much sales language is off-putting – people have already paid for the book and expect to be given something substantial without having to spend more, at least immediately.

You might have great material, but it needs to be shaped for the particular medium. Think of the reader, rather than the attendee, and write, rather than speak, to that reader.

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