Now is the time to enhance a priority skill

You need to have strong writing and research skills for your law practice. You also need to feel confident about your abilities to speak up. So while you take CLE’s in best practices for writing and research, consider this: What are you doing to boost your public speaking skills?

If you want to make the biggest difference in your law practice, you will strengthen your public speaking skills. Just to be clear, the benefits you gain not only come in handy when you give speeches or lead trainings, they also boost your relationship communication and your ability to overcome the negative voice in your head.

Benefits to enhancing your public speaking

  1. You find your unique voice. What does it mean to find your voice? It means learning your value. For starters, you are a thinker, motivated by your experiences and/or key individuals to enter the legal profession so you can make a difference. But being a thinker doesn’t make a difference in the world. What does is your willingness to share your unique thoughts, your motivations, your story about why you do what you do. A speaking coach is compelled to help speakers find their voice because novel thinking is what gets an audience’s attention. And unless you know your unique voice, you won’t believe you have anything novel to share.
  2. You will be motivated to use your voice. Many attorneys fall into step with their careers by letting someone else take the lead. Content to be told what to do and how to do it, they fail to exercise active behavior. Meaning, they hold their tongues. Attorneys who find their voice gain motivation while learning to be active – speaking up and sharing their views, whether popular or not. A practice full of willingness to speak up is a practice designed to make a difference.
  3. You become a trusted professional. What powerful presenters know is the better they are at building relationship, the more engaging and trusting they are as a speaker. Speaking is a relationship activity commonly misunderstood as the spotlighters’ selfish activity. Presenters with the best reputations (similar to attorneys with the best reputations) are professionals driven by needs of those around them, not by their own needs.
  4. You learn to make self-discipline one of your routines. Speakers must shift away from anxiety and toward enthusiasm. If they don’t, they let jitters get the best of them, they are defeated by audience members who respond with questions, they get overwhelmed by their negative thoughts and scarcely enjoy being with their audience. When we discipline ourselves to plan, prepare and practice good speaking techniques, we also learn to apply self-management in other areas of our professional and personal life.

Do you want this to be the year for your best efforts? Routinely enhance your public speaking skills. I don’t mean just pick up a book on the subject. I mean actively test out your skills.

Consider the following tips:

  • Ask for others’ perspective. Before you take on the important or risky speech, try out your message in front of a friendly, constructive listener or two.
  • Find a way to regularly speak. Join a strong contact networking group (BNI, AmSpirit, Goldstar, etc.) that allows you to not only share a prepared message but also have networking conversations. Join a Toastmasters group local to your area. They allow members to weekly practice speaking and/or observe others in action. Regularly speak up in meetings and/or volunteer to give talks for your practice group or firm.
  • Any talk/presentation worth preparing is worth taking the time to plan, prepare and practice. Hone your message focus, relate to the audience, and structure your message in a 3-part way. For example, introduce the main idea, give examples of the importance of it and conclude with steps your audience can take. Remind yourself why sharing this is important to you, even if it means you will get nervous. Focus on the motivation, and when you get nervous you will know what to think about. Practice your talk aloud, on your feet. Even if it’s only in front of a mirror, get on your feet and rehearse outloud to understand how this message affects your body. Avoid holding yourself back. Get your energy going so you bring your audience to attention, keep them there and inspire them to take the action you want them to take. Practicing this level of energy cannot happen when you’re seated, if indeed you are meant to be on your feet when sharing your message.
  • Record yourself. Audio recordings will inform you of any verbal patterns, pitch ranges and pace patterns. Do you sound conversational? Make it a goal to. Video recordings will inform you of your naturalness, your energy level and your willingness to connect with your audience.

Most professionals will continue to do what they’ve always done and continue to get what they’ve always got in their career. Is this what you want? Or are you ready to take charge of your law career?

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