Converting the spoken word to the written word

By Ian Darke, Latin America regional trainer

Many Christian leaders, pastors and teachers share excellent spoken messages worth hearing throughout nations and across borders. Unfortunately, these key communicators often either lack the time to write or the gift of writing. One solution is recording a talk or sermon, and converting the spoken word into written form.

David Porter was an acknowledged expert of the craft, a respected freelance editor from the U.K. He was responsible for the publication of the Keswick Bible readings, an outgrowth of the annual Keswick Convention
While David was still alive, he shared these tips with me on overcoming the challenges of editing recorded talks.
1. Cut about 30 percent of the text. Apart from verbal "tics," spoken communication requires repetition that is not appropriate in a written text. Remove some of the greetings, references to the immediate context and some anecdotes.
2. Create an "on page" flavor that is faithful to the speaker’s style and approach. This can be a challenge. You have to include the content of the message, preserve its structure and make it plain. In doing so, you need to keep his or her "voice."
3. Find a written alternative to the speaker’s gesticulation or tone of voice for emphasizing the main points. The art is to maintain the flavor of the spoken communication, while making the sentence structure as simple as possible.
4. Leave in words like "this morning over breakfast" to give flavor if editing a conference talk. At times, indicate when things happen, like the conference tent falling down! Whatever you do, the message must be clear and interesting.
5. Look at the by-play between talks and the dovetailing between them when editing a series of talks, such as from a single conference. In the written text, include cross references and links. An introduction to the series or group of talks may be helpful.
6. Some biblical quotes should be included, but not all. Readers can look up quoted verses.
7. In a series of talks or conferences, it’s helpful to ask speakers to waive the right to approve your written version, although you may want them to check it at times. Speakers have to recognize that these are edited transcripts, not a book they would have written themselves. However, it’s good practice for a conference leader to check all the texts, just in case the editor has misunderstood something.

*The photo above has no relationship to the actual text of this article.