Most non-lawyers think that all lawyers are natural born speakers and/or trained in the art of public speaking in law school. This is simply not true. Regardless of whether you’re a litigator, all lawyers should learn the art of public speaking. Public speaking is an excellent way to be seen as a thought leader or subject matter expert and obtain new clients.
Here are 5 Steps you can take to reduce your fear of public speaking:
1) Conduct Research
Visit or call key participants to ask them what they expect from your presentation. That is, what do they want to learn from it? What do they already know about this topic? How will your presentation help them? Such conversations enlist these people as your allies during your presentation. It also helps you learn what people expect, so that you can deliver it. This is like collecting the answers to an exam before taking it.
Write an outline, and if possible write a script for key parts of it (such as the opening and close). Make sure to speak in a manner that is relatable to your audience (for example, if your audience consists of nonlawyers, avoid legalese). Practice giving your presentation without reading the script until you know it so well that you can deliver it conversationally. Don’t memorize your script — that makes things too difficult. Practice your speech anywhere and at any time. For example, you can talk through parts of it while jogging, working on chores, or taking a shower.
This is absolutely key! Begin by practicing on your own: it helps to videotape yourself or practice in front of a mirror so you can see how your expressions and body language looks. Then, practice your talk in in front of a group of friends, coworkers, and/or your boss. Ask for their comments on how to improve your talk. When possible, try to practice in the actual room where you will speak so you can become familiar with the room and any equipment, such as a projector.
4) Be the Host
The day of the speech, arrive early so that you can meet and greet the attendees before your presentation. Shake their hands and thank them for coming. Introduce yourself to them and engage them in small talk. (e.g., “How are you?”) Act as if they were guests coming to your party. This converts them from strangers into friends.
5) Expect Success
Visualize doing a wonderful job. If you let nightmares run through your mind, you will scare yourself. Give yourself confidence by expecting to do well. Know that everyone wants you to do an excellent job. The key to success is being prepared. It helps you do a better job and fills you with confidence.
If you want more help in the public speaking realm, we’re here for you! Email us at info@EsquireCoaching.com to set up a session where we’ll guide you to be more confident when presenting publicly.
What strategies have worked for you when giving speeches? Do you have any stories you’d like to share about your experience becoming a more confident speaker?
Best wishes along your journey to become a confident, empowered, and influential public speaker!