As public speakers, it helps to think about crafting our spoken word in similar terms to when we are writing. Take as much care when you speak as when you write. Instead of reading over what you wrote, listen as you speak. Here’s what to listen for:
We always encourage the lawyers we coach to practice alone, aloud, and a lot. We also suggest that they make video of themselves so they can watch their presentation. This suggestion, of course, is often met with grunts, groans, and general reluctance. Most people don’t like watching themselves on video. We regularly work with attorneys who have never seen themselves speak professionally on video. Goofing around on vacation, yes, giving a serious presentation, no. Why can we tolerate watching ourselves act casual but not serious?
“Excuse me. I’d like to hear what you have to say when I’m finished.”
I had the pleasure of leading a program at NALP’s Professional Development Institute last December with Paula Monopoli, Professor at the University of Maryland School of Law. Our interactive session was called What to Say and How to Say It: Gender Issues in Professional Speech.
Have you seen it? The TED Talk with 30 million views? You know, the Wonder Woman power pose? If you have, you have a general idea of what I’m writing about. If not, read on, and then click to the talk after you have read this post.
I was a skeptic at first, resisting anything that popular. Amy Cuddy, a beautiful, warm, appealing and articulate spokesperson for building confidence by striking a Wonder Woman pose, was too good to be true.
Our upcoming June Articulate Advocate NITA program is sold out, but if you are looking for something unique, there is a new program in Boulder that promises to be outstanding. We have watched A Witness Examination Boot Camp evolve over the last several years at the NITA National program. Now it is a stand-alone program of drills that will solidify your examination technique so you are always in control. We only wish we could be there to watch it unfold!
Studying others as they speak in public is an important step in developing your own personal style. Whether they are top-notch presenters or inexperienced speakers, you can learn from them.
Find good role models and steal their ideas. Adapt or adopt some of the elements of their style and make them your own. When you hear truly excellent speakers, look and listen closely to understand why they make such a strong impression.
In preparing your witness for court, one simple, yet crucial, instruction can make a significant difference in their testimony: “Sit up straight.”
Sitting up straight will help the witness breathe more easily and efficiently. Slouching collapses the upper body against the diaphragm and makes it harder to speak, think, and feel confident. Slow, deep breaths help calm the witness in the stressful situation of testifying and will control the effects of adrenaline. Deep breaths also bring more oxygen to the brain to help your witness think more clearly.
A colleague shared a helpful public speaking infographic.
It contains a lot of interesting information about the fear of public speaking and “hacks” to overcome those anxieties. We recommend you check it out for a good overview on some of the challenges we help attorneys face in their presentations.
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