A little bit of Practical Inspiration on… Maximizing Engagement and Learning for Your Readers!
A guest post by Frederique Murphy
I started writing my book during the first lockdown, and as a keynote speaker, the pandemic meant that all my events had either been postponed or cancelled, and I missed being in Flow. You know when you are ‘in the zone’? That state of peak performance, fully immersed and focused? Flow is a psychological concept of Positive Psychology. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is most influential in the field and his research and breakthroughs with Flow are well known.
There is a strong connection between a writer in Flow and a reader in Flow. The same way that as a speaker, this connection is intense for me and my audiences. So no wonder that in my writing, I searched for Flow too: I wanted to achieve that state both for me and my readers. I actually credit being in Flow the fact that I wrote my book, from 0 to 50,000 words, in 12 weeks.
So, let’s maximize engagement and learning for your readers by paying attention to Flow, and here is how you can make this happen: by raising awareness throughout your writing and reading. To engage with your readers, you want to not only be in Flow yourself, but also focus on the flow of your book. Yes, the actual flow (no surprise it is the same word!).
Engage your readers by focusing on your book structure and its balance or lack of balance, when done purposefully. Your book is a journey your reader embarks on with you. Ask yourself the following 3 questions:
- What are my journey stops? A start, middle and end?
- Am I happy with a series of chapters or would I like to also have parts, which gives me the ability to group some of my chapters together?
- How balanced are my chapters and parts? And if not, is there a reason for the unbalance and the bias this will therefore create in your readers’ minds?
Your answers to these will help the flow of your book, which in turn means your reader will be in Flow. In my recently published Lead Beyond The Edge book, structure, alignment and balance are key.
It all started with its structure as I mapped it out, sticky note by sticky note: I identified 5 parts, and each part, has 3, 6, 6, 6, 3 chapters, respectively. Due to the nature of the book providing my readers with a framework, I made sure everything was aligned and balanced as I did not want to create any biases with my readers.
So, my book has 5 parts; the central 3 are the main body ones, and therefore twice as long as the first and last parts. From a chapter point of view, no chapter is more important than another one. Each of my central 12 chapters gives 12 strategies, and these are the same length as all my strategies are equally important.
This also brings me to mention one more thing you want to pay attention to: the use of graphics, if any, in your book. My graphics needed to be sized the same way throughout the book as to not create any imbalance, which would have created an unconscious bias for my readers as they read, discover and experience my book. This is something I particularly focused on during the typesetting process.
When you are in Flow, your audiences — as a writer, your readers, get the best out of you, which means they get the best out of your book. Flow helps you maximize engagement and learning for your readers. And an engaged brain learns better, retains better and performs better. Happy flowing!
Frederique Murphy is a leadership mindset strategist who inspires and equips leaders to move through extraordinary change. With her Mountain Moving Mindset platform, as a multi award-winning keynote speaker and consultant, she helps global organizations — including Fortune 500 companies — tap into the power of their leaders’ minds to rewire their brains for success to drive powerful transformations. She brings together 17 years’ experience in corporate change and scientific expertise in positive psychology, neuroscience and behaviour change with strategic vision and business acumen. She’s also the author of Lead Beyond The Edge: The Bold Path to Extraordinary Results.