You are one of the amazing ones who did it, you wrote a book! Now you need to know how to take your great work and distill it into a 40-minute speech. A speech that serves your audience well, creates value and naturally increases your sales. So, how do you do that? Authors, speakers, and entrepreneurs Kathi Lipp and Michelle Cushatt share their top three tips and give some bonus do’s and don’ts for authors-turned-speakers or speakers-turned-authors.


In today’s episode, you will know:

  • How to decide your #1 takeaway
  • Creating universal applications for every audience
  • Creating the right amount of tension
  • How to balance serving and selling
  • Bonus: Do’s and Don’ts for every author-turned-speaker


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Find Michele’s new book here.


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Transcript of this Episode

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Communicator Academy Podcast # 161


How to Turn Your Book into a Speaking Topic


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<<intro music>>


Kathi – Well, hey friends! Welcome to Communicator Academy, where our heart is to equip and encourage men and women to become the communicators that God has created them to be. With me today is my, I’m just going to say it, kick-ass co-host, Michele Cushatt.


Michele – Is that allowed? 


Kathi – You know what? It’s our podcast.  That word appears in the Bible, and I know that some parent is going to contact me and say, “I was listening to this with my kids in the car.” So, I do apologize in advance, but you know, can we just say, today we’re both a little fired up? We’re both in the midst of book launches. If you need your faith tested, do a book launch. 


Michele – I know! I’m sitting here, thinking, people are going to going to think you’re going to talk about some kind of physical suffering, but no, “If you need your faith tested, launch a book.” That’s all I’m saying. It’s not all ponies and rainbows and unicorns.


Kathi – It will show you how inadequate you are. How inadequate other people think you are. I know there are some people listening right now who are saying, “Well, at least you have a book to launch.” Yes! That is absolutely true. I know that so much of that book, even though we’ve gone with traditional publishers, so much of it is up to us. That’s what I want to talk about today. Part of the way we get the right to write books, that we get to write second books, is by promoting the books we have. One of the things we do is speak.


Michele – We’re not going to make a living as a writer, so we have to find other ways to earn a little income here and there. Plus, it’s our ministry. Our way to get resources in hands. Really, that’s the heart of it. 


Kathi – It’s very interesting, because I know that a lot of people think, “Well, as soon as you write a book, everybody is going to ask you to speak.” That is not true. You have to earn the right to speak. I also want to talk about, how do you turn that book into a speaking topic? If you’re like me, I started, not with books. I started with speaking. I would go in, and say, “What does this audience need to hear?” and I’d build a talk around that. When you’re speaking from a book, it’s a very different animal, don’t you think Michele?


Michele – Absolutely. My most recent book, which is about to come out, is three years of writing.


Kathi – Relentless!


Michele – Yes, Relentless. And she’s not talking about me. It is three years of work going into a book. Now, obviously, when you get forty minutes on a platform at a speaking event, you can’t deliver three years of words.


Kathi – I’ve seen people try.


Michele – I have, too, and it’s a painful experience for all involved.  Don’t do that.


Kathi – I want to talk about how do we take a book, whether you’re in the midst of writing it, or you are done writing it, and how do you turn that into a speaking topic? Now, sometimes you can turn it into multiple speaking topics. I’ve done that with retreats with topics like Overwhelmed. I’ve done it with Clutter Free for workshops. I know you’ve done it as well.


Michele – Yeah, absolutely. Sometimes it’s nice. Especially when you’re doing a retreat where you’re speaking three or four times, you can create four presentations out of one book that kind of fits the whole brand and theme of that book. Many times, we just get one shot. We have forty minutes to deliver a message that has to do with our book. But how do we turn two hundred and forty pages, or whatever our book is, into a forty minute message. 


Kathi – And you’re trying to accomplish a lot in that forty minutes, because not only are you trying to help your audience, you’re trying to match-make with a certain segment of that audience. Now, not everybody in that audience is going to buy your book at the end. I just not going to be for everybody, but for the people it is for, the people it’ll actually give help to, we need to connect. So, let’s talk about three ways to turn your book into a speaking topic. The first thing you talk about, Michele, is that you think there needs to be One Powerful Take-Away. Now, you’ve got this entire book. How do you figure that out?


Michele – Well, I try to think of one particular topic that I have seen resonate the most with people. This is after the books comes out. Or people have at least read pre-manuscripts of it. What is one particular angle, or topic, or chapter? Sometimes it’s just one chapter that resonates with people. What is that? Then, focus on that for the presentation.


Kathi – Can you give us an example from one of your books?


Michele – Okay, so I’ll talk about the book I’m doing right now, ’cause I’m actually in the process of developing a speaking presentation for my current book that’s about to release. This is timely. The book I’m getting ready to launch has fourteen chapters. I can’t deliver all fourteen bullet points, but there’s one chapter, in particular, that people tell me really resonates with them, and it’s all about the incarnation. I can do a whole presentation on how the incarnation, the story of Jesus coming to Earth as a baby, in the flesh, was an expression of God’s never ending presence with us. Just that one tiny aspect. It could be a holiday message, an advent message, but it’s all about the incarnation. It’s only a tiny sliver of the whole entire book, but if I focus on that, it could really be a good, thematic presentation at that time of year.


Kathi – I love that. I think that, so often, as authors, we want to prove all the good stuff that is in our book. So, we do a scattershot. We’re taking little bits of every chapter to say, “Well, if you don’t like this, you’ll probably like this. You might like this, or we could do this.” What we are saying is, “No, no. We are going to focus on one things, because then you’re able to go deeply, and you’re actually able to help your audience. 


Michele – Totally. Absolutely.


Kathi – Okay, so we’re talking about narrowing it to one, powerful take-away, but, now we’re going to sound like we’re contradicting ourselves, but we’re not. Number Two: What we need is Universal Application. 


Michele – Agreed. Our speaking audience isn’t always going to be exactly the same as our book audience. Let’s say we’re writing a book, specifically for parents of toddlers. Let’s say that’s what we’re doing. But we get invited to speak to a moms’ group. There are going to many women in that audience that don’t have toddlers. Maybe they have grown children. Maybe it’s just a women’s group, and they have no children at all. So then, we need to make a broader, more universal application. So, you have one powerful take-away, but you need to make sure it has somewhat of a universal application, so that, regardless of the audience you’re in front of, it can be tweaked and applied to them, specifically.


Kathi – Yeah, I think that with something as prescriptive as what I do, when I’m speaking on clutter, not everybody sitting in the audience has a clutter issue. But, everybody loves somebody with a clutter issue. Or is irritated by somebody with a clutter issue.


Michele – Or wants them to move out of their house, right?


Kathi – Exactly. So, that’s how we have to figure out, “How do we make this apply to for everybody in the audience?” That doesn’t mean we give them 87 things. It means we come up with one truth that can be broadly applied.


Michele – Exactly. So, from my example, that whole chapter on the incarnation of God becoming flesh and entering in with us, and becoming that that presence with us, it would be a great Advent message, but I might be invited to do it on a Sunday morning with a mixed crowd of men, women and children, everything else. Everything else? What am I talking about? Donkeys and animals? You know what I mean. Men, women, children. Old and young. So, I can do it in that environment, or maybe a women’s Christmas tea. I’ve done those before. But it needs to be a message that is somewhat universally applicable.


Kathi – Here’s the beautiful thing. When it’s done well, it’s not selling. When it’s done well, it’s serving. When you’re speaking, you can serve everyone in that audience, whether they purchase your book, or not. But, for the people who need to go deeper, you have that resource for them. Number Three: You talk about Creating Tension and Unanswered Questions. What do you mean by that? Don’t you want to wrap it up in your talk?


Michele – You want to wrap up one solid take-away, so that way they have something to take home and put in their pocket. That’s always important. When we do presentations, the audience is always asking, “What’s in it for me?” and we need to answer that question. We want to wrap it up enough so they have something to put in their pocket and take home with them. At the same time, we want to leave some unanswered questions. In other words, as a business woman, I want them to buy my book. I don’t want them to get everything that’s in the book, at the presentation, I want them to be satisfied enough with what they received in my presentation, but also, leaves them wanting just that little bit more, so they actually go and buy the book. 


Kathi – There’s a couple of things I want to say about that. The line between serving and selling.


Michele – I know. Let’s talk about that.


Kathi – “If you want to find out the answer, go buy my book.” is not okay. 


Michele – No, it’s not. That’s teasing. That’s disrespectful. What you end up doing is making enemies, not loyal fans and friends.


Kathi – I think there are sometimes when there are selling techniques that serve your audience. One of the things that I know you do and I do, if there is an especially well-crafted part of my book, that answers that question, I’ll read directly from my book. Now, I have got feedback, “I thought you wrote your book. You’d think you’d know it well enough.” Thank you, Zig Ziglar. I have one thing that I read, that I call Crawling Through the Desert, when I was going through an especially tough time. I was writing in my journal. So, I read a passage from my journal, because I want to get it right. People comment, and they’re like, “I have been in that exact desert place.” So, what’s a passage you sometimes read from? I know I’ve heard it at our church. 


Michele – Yes, there are certain ones I do all the time, because I can’t recreate it by memory. There’s a section from Undone that I read pretty frequently, that talks about the disciples in the boat, when the storms comes up and they’re terrified. They look at Jesus and they say, “Don’t you care if we drowned?” Then this passage goes on to say, “How many times have I cried the same thing in my prayers?” And it seems like Jesus is sleeping in my boat? It’s not fair and I want to say, “Don’t you care if I drowned?” I read this section, and close it, and simply say, “Sometimes my own words come back to kick me in the butt. Sometimes my own words are the ones that convict me.” Then, I’m able to move on from there. This is hard. We still have days where we wake up in a boat, and the storm is raging around us and it feels like Jesus is sleeping. 


Kathi – Yes. Yes. Yes. So, a couple of things I wanted to go over. We can read from our book when it’s appropriate. Do not read most of your talk from your book. I’ve seen that, too. I think you can do that a tops of two, maybe three times. But then, it gets to start to feel sales-y, and we don’t want that. Another thing you can do: is there a resource in your book that you feel would be particularly helpful? You can mention that. 


Michele – By the way, if you don’t include some kind of resource in your book, you might want to. Or create something that goes along with it. Like, it the back of my book, I have a reading list for people who are dealing with faith and suffering issues. It’s an entire reading list. So, if they get the book, they can have the whole entire reading list.


Kathi – Things like that are so important, because it says, “We are providing real value.” None of us are writing books to get rich. We are writing books to serve an audience. I know that I have felt the pressure to get the sales numbers. When you ship a hundred books someplace, you don’t want to go home with a hundred books. 


Michele – I’ve done that before, let me tell you. The same number of books came home that I shipped out, or at least the same number of boxes.


Kathi – Same number of boxes. Somebody’s going to take pity on you. They really will.


Michele – There’s usually one woman in the audience that’s all, “Awe, bless your heart.” pats me on the head and buys my book.


Kathi – I also think, book sales are an indication of whether your message landed or not. Not always, but…


Michele – Not always, but yes. If you have connected with a true felt need in your audience, it’s almost automatic that they’re going to want to come and get additional resources to support that.


Kathi – Now, I have been the last speaker at MOMCon, where I was done speaking at 4:30 and the MOMProm was at 5:30. I think I sold six books. It was not a good day. Let’s just say that.


Michele – I was at an event one time, where I was the last speaker and the speaker before me went an hour over, so, it was 11 pm. No one hangs around 11 pm.


Kathi – Nobody does. You’re speaking to an empty room.


Michele – Especially from an author, after another author over-spoke, they’re like, “Yeah, we’re not supporting this.” 


Kathi – Yeah, “We’re all done!”  That’s the slap on the hand. Absolutely. Okay, I just want to go over these one more time. When you’re turning your book into a speaking topic, ONE: Make Sure You Have One Powerful Take-Away. Not twelve. You need one. Something that is going to land with your audience and be memorable, that they can talk about ten minutes after you talk.


Michele – That really meets their need. Exactly where they are.


Kathi – Number Two: Universal Application. Your book may be very specific, but you need to have that universal application. So, if I’m writing a book on step-moms, but I can’t speak just to step-moms. If it’s a group of parents, or a Sunday congregation, I have to talk about messy relationships and my book is a resource for that. Number Three: Create Some Tension with Unanswered Questions, but you have to give them enough, so they know they can leave that auditorium, that church, that sanctuary, that school room, with something different to think about. Give them the opportunity to purchase your book, for those who want to go deeper. This has been great, Michele.


Michele – I kind of think of it in terms of when I serve my family dinner. I always make sure there’s enough for seconds. So, I serve them enough on their first plate, but I want to leave them, if they’re hungry, with enough for seconds, for them to go back for more.


Kathi – I love that idea. 


Michele – Thank you friends, for listening to us. We always enjoy sharing this time together. You’ve been listening to Communicator Academy. My name is Michele Cushatt.


Kathi – And I’m Kathi Lipp.


Michele – You’ve been given the best message in the world. Now go live it. 




*see show notes in podcast post above for any mentioned items

Enter transcript here

Meet Your Hosts

Kathi Lipp

Kathi Lipp

Author, Speaker, Communicator Academy Creator and CEO

Communicator Academy founder, Leverage: The Speaker Conference creator and master instructor Kathi Lipp, is a national speaker and author of 17 books including “Clutter Free,” “Overwhelmed,” and “The Husband Project.”

She is a frequent guest on radio and TV, and has been named Focus on the Family radio’s “Best of Broadcast.”

She is the host of the popular podcast “Clutter Free Academy with Kathi Lipp.”

Over the past 10 years, Kathi has helped hundreds of people increase their platform through teaching and coaching. She is a frequent teacher at writer’ s conferences and has helped countless authors and speakers find their audiences.

Kathi’s desire to help fellow speakers and authors avoid the mistakes she made, increase their confidence and be the person God made them to be, inspired her creation of Communicator Academy. Her newest adventure, is The Red House where she offers writer’s retreats and Writers in Residence events. Learn more about the Red House at

Michele Cushatt

Michele Cushatt

Author, Speaker, Mastermind Coach

As an experiened keynote speaker and emcee, Michele Cushatt’s speaking experience includes Women of Faith, Compassion International, and various retreats, conferences and events held across the country. She has also led radio, video and audio recording projects.

She co-hosted with Michael Hyatt on the popular This Is Your Life podcast. In addition, Michele serves as part of the Dynamic Communicators International leadership team, led by best-selling author and sought-after speaker Ken Davis.

Michele coaches multiple large-platform speakers in how to craft and deliver powerful presentations.
Michele authored Undone: A Story of Making Peace with an Unexpected Life with Zondervan Publishers and I Am: A 60-Day Journey to Knowing Who You Are Because of Who He Is. Her third book will be launched in Fall of 2019. She launched her first Mastermind group in January 2017 and is currently taking applications for her 2020 Mastermind.

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