Speaking publically is something many people don’t enjoy doing. Public speaking can open a flood gate of anxiety due to possible embarrassment, making a mistake, and the fear of being judged. However, lawyers are expected to be extremely well spoken in front of a crowd and able to convey their message eloquently and clearly. Each time you speak in front of a courtroom or to a group of partners in a meeting, your professional future is being analyzed and critiqued. Being able to speak well publicly is very beneficial for all attorneys and a must for advancing in their careers. Here are tips to help you become a better public speaker:
Firstly, don’t think of your audience as your judges. Instead, think of yourself as a holder of valuable information that you must deliver to those listening to you. When you focus less on people judging your every word, and think of yourself as a teacher, pressures lessen and you will be able to speak more naturally and relaxed.
It’s also important for you to know who your audience. Are you presenting in front of your law firm’s partners or summer interns? Does your case involve civilians or corporate business people? You need to know whom you are speaking in front of to help you be able to communicate effectively. Knowing your demographics can help you determine your speech pattern, vocabulary, how long you should talk, and much more.
Another word of advice is to not prepare too much. If you have to deliver a closing statement or present information to the firm’s partners, be prepared of what you have to say. However, don’t memorize word for word what you need to say. This can add extra stress you do not need. Instead, memorize bullet points you need to talk about, and speak about the subject in your own manner. The words will flow out less robotically. Learn about what you will be speaking about publically prior; you should eventually be comfortable with the amount of knowledge you have whether it is about a case or business plan. By the time you speak publically, you should already know the subject well enough to speak about it as if you were telling your friends or spouse.
Finally, practice makes perfect. The easiest way to be more comfortable talking in front of an audience is to speak and speak often. There are many bar associations that offer educational programs and seminars for other attorneys and law students that you can speak at, or take notes on how others speak publicly. There are lots of opportunities out there for you to talk in front of an audience. Take the time to find them, and start talking!
Whether its overcoming your stage fright or becoming a stronger speaker, learning how to become an efficient public speaker can be beneficial to your legal career. People listen and take strong speakers seriously, which can then help you to win a case or settle a business merger. The key is to find out what techniques work for you, and practicing them until you have reached the level of proficiency you want.