Wednesday, February 26th, 2020
By Gideon Grunfeld
Those in the legal profession tend to believe that lawyers shouldn’t need help when it comes to making public speeches. After all, most lawyers know a thing or two about being persuasive, and trial lawyers address juries for a living. Many seem to be master communicators, but there’s a major difference between a jury and a conference or webinar audience: one is forced to be there under threat of arrest.
Because some attorneys assume they’re already accomplished public speakers, a discomfort arises around suggesting one could benefit from additional help. Although an increasing number of law firms are quick to provide support with respect to time management, hourly billing, and the drafting of marketing materials, there is an added level of sensitivity regarding a lawyer’s possible need for speech coaching. There shouldn’t be.
Even lawyers who are skilled at communication and agile on their feet often don’t fully appreciate the business purpose of a speech. Too many view speeches from a professorial perspective. They approach a presentation as if the goal is to make sure that a vast majority of the audience can pass a non-existent substantive test about the subject matter covered. This overly educational approach is reflected in how much time lawyers spend putting together PowerPoint slide decks chock-full of bullet points.
But if the business purpose of a speech is to create new leads, there are more important pieces to prepare. How the speaker will be introduced and what will be said by the event organizer at the conclusion are key to this goal. And while the presenter has an audience of potential clients and referral sources, it’s crucial to obtain contact information, a set of email addresses at the least.
Most lawyers don’t recognize the significance of the speaker’s introduction or an evaluation form to the business success of a presentation. And if this is news to you, you’re in very good company. Just as lawyers shouldn’t feel embarrassed when they call on the IT department for assistance, they should embrace the notion that experts can help them become better speakers and more effective marketers.