How to Accompany Your Book with a Video Study: Five Differences between a Video and a Book
For the most popular Christian authors, accompanying their books with a video study is almost mandatory. But the average author may never have considered creating videos to go with their books.
Videos can bring your content to a wider market. Books and videos go hand in hand, each promoting the other. Author’s accomplished at video may find themselves with more speaking engagements.
In this three-part blog series, “How to Accompany Your Book with a Video Study,” I want to share my experience of creating both books and video studies which contain similar theme and content. By the end of this series, I hope you’ll be motivated to explore adding video studies to your books and find that you are equipped with more information to do so.
I’ll cover topics such as
- How video writing and production differ from book writing and publishing.
- Similarities and differences of content organization in the two formats.
- Whether to write the book or the video first (or develop both together).
- The feasibility for the average author to create videos.
- The potential market for videos.
This blog will highlight the differences between books and videos in style and content. But first, let me clarify that this series is not about promotional videos on social media platforms. Instead, the discussion in this series involves video studies which are typically targeted toward small groups. Such video studies align with the book, presenting a subset of content that can be viewed and discussed.
Let me sidetrack a moment to say that the video concept may work better for nonfiction authors. I’m not sure how you would handle a fiction video in a small group study. I could see offering a deeper dive into the characters or the plot in order to set up discussions about the book.
While aligned with the book, the video must differ from your book in five essential ways:
- Visual aspect
- Accounting for how the mind absorbs vital information
- Time imperative
- Goals for the video
- Writing style
Videos are, of course, visual in nature. Not only does the eye desire something interesting during a video but also the entire populace has been trained by advertising and social media to expect more in a video. That doesn’t mean you have to place flashy colors or constant motion in your video. But you do need to decide how to mix it up and make it interesting. Viewers will be more enticed by a blend of visual techniques rather than watching you stand in front of a camera the whole time.
In your visual presentation, consider:
- Including background imagery.
- Trying a variety of camera zoom in/out and angles (if possible).
- Using of graphics, scrolls, and other techniques to call attention to source material.
- Switching to a screen where the viewer can read along, either from a chart or a Bible excerpt.
- Using pictures and video clips to highlight your topic. (Be sure to check copyright status and to give credit where due. I recommend seeking free sources that give you licensing control, such as Pixabay, Pexels, and Unsplash).
While the mind seeks stimulation during a video, it also cannot be overloaded with information. This is the “fire hose” effect. Too much information can overwhelm the viewer, as they have little way to review and reinforce what has been said as they could in a book.
This means you must reduce your key points so the viewer’s mind can absorb the information. It is better to be slightly (but not overly) repetitive in a video, saying the same thing in different ways, giving examples, and previewing and summarizing the key points. You must be selective in your key points, and only include a point that you can develop. The temptation is to squeeze in an extra point for 30 seconds somewhere, but extra points can actually be more confusing, because you have opened a topic but never closed it.
Hence, your video does not completely copy from your book. There is simply not enough time, which brings us to the time imperative. In developing this video for a small group study, you must consider that a group allocates time for fellowship, group business, prayer, and discussion. Assuming the average group meets for about an hour, that means your video time is likely restricted to 20 minutes. You may find that 12-15 minutes is even better, depending on the expected length and intensity of discussion.
One technique I’ve used is to split the video into two segments of roughly 10 minutes each, with a brief interlude on the video between each. This gives options to the group on how to handle discussion. Some may let the video continue playing and then conduct one discussion to cover the entire video, but others may want two segments to discuss while topics are fresh on their minds.
I assume, and encourage, that a primary goal for the video is to foster discussion. The video should stimulate worthwhile discussion that makes group members curious enough to dive deeper and purchase your book. This is not just a marketing ploy: videos tend to evaporate in people’s minds, while a book will help them reference and retain information. Viewers benefit by purchasing your book so they can better use the material in their lives.
However, you could have other goals for your video. You may simply want to entertain without much discussion. You may want the video to primarily introduce yourself. You may want to use the time to extend points from your book, assuming that viewers have read it in advance. In my view, however, the best policy is to promote discussion and engagement with the material.
You’ll find that your writing style may need to change to match your speaking style. Some beautiful prose can sound stilted or unnatural when read aloud. Consider using simpler language and more basic sentence constructs for the video. Read your copy aloud to find whether you’re truly matching your speaking style. And remember, you only have so much time, so editing is vital. Time your spoken words to calculate how long each video will actually take.
There is more to say about how to organize your content and what key points to extract from your book. I’ll cover these points next time in my second post, “Which Came First? The Book or the Video?”
Cecil Taylor is the founder of Cecil Taylor Ministries, teaching Christians how to live a 7-day practical faith. Both of his books have won writing awards at Christian writers’ conferences. Both “The Next Thing: A Christian Model for Dealing with Crisis in Personal Life” and “Live Like You’re Loved: Steps to Living in the Freedom and Immediacy of God’s Love” have been delivered as books, five-week small group video studies, participant guides, and leader guides. Cecil’s website is CecilTaylorMinistries.com.