Articles Posted in Public Speaking

Everyone knows that the most people rank public speaking right up there with root canals or at least something to be avoided at all costs. Unfortunately, attorneys also know that being an effective speaker, whether it be in Court or in a Seminar, is a great benefit to their profession.

Public Speaking and Stage FrightAlthough there is not enough space here to go into details, I wanted to open up a conversation to explore why it is so scary and how attorneys can work towards feeling more comfortable in speaking.

  • Let’s first look at why this topic causes so much fear. Are you afraid you will make a mistake? You have no idea what to speak about? Do you think everyone will walk out when you start speaking? Do you feel it will open you up to criticism? The reasons go on and on. See if you can identify yours.

Please don’t think your marketing is over simply because you finally gave a speech.  There are several more tasks that need to be done after the big day is over.

1.  Collect as many names from the attendees as you can.  If the sponsor won’t give you names and email addresses, have a raffle and ask all participants to put in their business cards.  Starbucks gift cards are always great raffle gifts.  In this way, you can get a list of everyone who was there.

2. Put those names into your contacts in Outlook.  If you had a conversation with any of the people, note that.  Note what they do.

You are giving a bang up, value filled speech and Henry in the first row blurts out “Just where do you get these ideas? They sound groundless to me”.   What do you do after recovering from your nausea?   Again this comes down to being prepared for these instances whenever you are presenting.  The first key is to know as much about your audience as you can beforehand.

What kind of a background, in general, does your audience have?  Are they a homogenous group?  Can you relate and understand your audience and their needs?  You did this before when you were preparing your talk.  The most difficult audience is one that is filled with a lot of divergent people who needs are vastly different.  This is your classic politician’s struggle.  Everybody seems to want something different.

Spiral Staircase Also its important to understand your purpose.  Do you want to persuade? Do you want to inform? Do you want the audience to take a particular action?  Do you want the audience to become your client?  to refer you? Don’t be afraid to admit exactly why you are taking the time and trouble to give this speech.  In this way, you can be more focused on what you want to accomplish and hecklers are less able to get you off the track.

Some of these ideas may not seem useful to you because you don’t have a desire to give a speech any time soon.  However, I would suggest that you cut these hints out and keep them for the time when you do decide to add public speaking to your marketing tools.  Every solo should be giving talks as well as attorneys in large firms. Attorneys in Public Practice can also get ahead sooner by becoming a public speaker.  This is one of the ways of branding yourself as a expert or someone very knowledgeable in an area of the law. So if you are not doing this, think about adding public speaking to your “tool kit”.

iStock_000014119164_ExtraSmall OK, now you are ready to prepare that topic and get ready to PERFORM.  Make sure, before you begin, that you know the size of the audience and what kind of set up will there be for your talk.  Don’t arrive with a power point and no place to show it.  Also you need to know how many hand outs to prepare.  Identify the person who will be helping you set up and who will be introducing you. You will need to prepare a short biography of yourself for the person introducing you to read.  Also attach a lengthier one with contact information to the back of your hand outs.  Always have hand outs even if you have a power point.  People need to take home information about the talk and you.

Be sure you know how long your talk should be.  You don’t want people walking out part way through because you didn’t know the timing of your presentation.

I have been gone for a couple of weeks recovering from the lawyer’s curse, Bronchitis.   I could hardly speak and then I sounded like Lauren Bacall (remember her?).  Deep sexy voice.

So let’s turn to what you can speak about.  This is sometimes the landmine that stops people from ever getting up to speak.  If you are asked to speak on a particular subject, then you have it easy.  More difficult is putting together proposals and selling those to groups you want to speak to.  So let’s talk about that form of marketing yourself.

stock-photo-10510143-spiral-stairsFirst you have to go back to identifying your target audience.  What information do they need?  What are their problems and concerns?  Where do they group together?  Is it the Rotary? Is it the Bar? Is it in Associations?  Take for instance that you have decided that your possible “gatekeepers” as a business lawyer are CPAs in your community.

Ah, the most feared thing for humans!!!  and all attorneys need to face the reality that they will be called upon to do some of it throughout their career.  Even transactional attorneys may need to present a program or at least do a YOU TUBE to promote business.  Public Attorneys who are trial lawyers need to ace public speaking. Public attorneys who want to get ahead in their firm, need to present ideas and thoughts at meetings.

So why is this so scarey for most adults?  True, extroverts have a lot less fear than introverts, although they are prone to talking too much or being off point and boring.  But what are the reasons for the fear?  Obviously one is that the public speaker is exposed. He or she is standing there commanding the audience’s attention.  Fear of being judged badly is certainly a foremost fear for Speakers.

Will the audience think I’m stupid? boring? or awkward.  What overcomes this?  CONFIDENCE.  Confidence in public speaking comes from basically knowing that you have something of value to give to your audience.  This, of course, comes down preparing the material to be informative but even more so, to be logical and simple enough for the audience to follow.  Too many times the speaker aims the material to the top 20% of the audience that may understand his or her ideas quickly but forgets about the 80% that could be interested if the material were presented in a simpler fashion.