Practice is the path to expertise. It is the only way to improve skill in any discipline, including public speaking.
The more complex the skill, the more practice is required. Whether you want to be a better golfer, pianist, or advocate, solitary and mindful practice is absolutely essential. You cannot acquire and improve any skill just by thinking, reading, or writing about it. Yet a surprising number of attorneys don’t practice—alone and aloud—the skills of advocacy.
Lawyers used to have more opportunities to develop the know-how of trial advocacy than they do today. In the past, when small cases more often went to trial, advocates could learn the skills of advocacy through experience in the courtroom. For many attorneys in the twenty-first century, opportunities for on-the-job training no longer exist. Unless you are a prosecutor or a public defender, it is difficult to develop basic trial skills through actual work in real courtrooms. Given the risks of taking a case to trial today, cases are often too important to be entrusted to beginners. If you lack frequent opportunities to refine and polish your trial skills in trials, you have all the more reason to practice those skills, so that you’ll be ready when the opportunity to take a case to trial comes along.
Need some more inspiration? Here are some resources to get you started:
>> Read an excerpt from our book The Articulate Advocate about practicing.
>> Watch a video of Marsha Hunter talking about why practicing alone and aloud is so important.
>> Read Brian Johnson’s post When You Must Read Aloud: Practice!
Practice is the only way to improve any skill. Conquer any resistance you may feel about practicing and learn to do it alone, aloud, and a lot. Remember, you are not prepping yourself to be perfect; you are practicing to get better. Be patient and methodical. It doesn’t have to take hours every day. Short sessions may be more productive.
Practice really does work, producing tangible results in a surprisingly short time. Ask any professional athlete or musician.