Summer is over, and that means a rash of conferences will be taking place between now and the week before Thanksgiving. Calls for speakers and sponsors are starting to go out for 2019. And my budget and calendar are busted.

Needless to say, I have attended, participated, and planned numerous conferences over the course of my career, and there’s just no excuse for crap programming.

I’m spending time (days out of the office, away from my family, plus travel), money (usually my firm’s, but for my service provider colleagues, it’s their money). And for my clients (the attorneys in my firm for me, but the paying clients for my firm’s attorneys), they are losing access to their trusted adviser/service provider/attorney for those hours or days.

It’s 2018 and there’s just no excuse for bad programming. So why are you still not taking speaking or moderating at a conference seriously? You said yes for a reason.  Continue Reading An Open Letter to Conference Organizers, Panel Moderators, and Speakers

Last week I was in Texas for the Legal Marketing Association‘s annual conference.

Like any conference, there were some knock-it-out-of-the-ballpark wins (keynote speaker James Kane) and there were some strike-outs.

In talking about one of the sessions that did not go as well as Jim’s, a colleague, who is a consultant to lawyers and law firms, shared:

It’s not okay to suck. Suck less.

That really resonated with me.

But, like most truths, it was followed up by a slap upside my head to make certain that I got the point:

If you, as an in-house person suck, whatever. But if I suck, my kids don’t eat.

It got me thinking. How many times have I, or one of my attorneys, rushed to get that presentation done? How many times have I waited to the last minute to do X or Y?

I’m an in-house marketing director. When I speak at a conference or event to attorneys, or fellow legal marketers, I am not there showing off my wares, balancing offering helpful information and hoping to land some work. I’m there for fun and for free. I’m there to lend a hand.

But that is not fair to the audience or the conference organizers. And it is doing NOTHING for my personal reputation.

I believe the reason that I am still fixated on Jim Kane’s presentation is that I can SEE the time and effort he put into it, and I am so impressed and appreciative of that effort.

Yeah, there were canned parts, which he delivered quite well, but at the end he 100% tailored the presentation to the audience. Not just legal marketers as a whole, but individuals in the audience including Laura Gutierrez, Mark Beese and others.

Jim got a hold of the attendee list and started Googling us. He included us in his closing slides. When he met and shook hands with us he remembered little factoids about who were were, whether or not we were in his closing slides.

Notice I keep saying “we.” Although Jim did not personally reference me, or my stellar job of selling Girl Scout cookies (thanks to everyone who bought some), I felt included because he included people I knew.

He took the time to get it right. And, as an extra “WOW,” please download the loyalty workbook he created for us.

So what to do WE do with this new truth?

Next time you are asked to speak, or meet with a potential new client, or are headed off to the beauty contest, don’t wait until the last minute.  Don’t just update your last presentation and materials. Don’t read the dossier in cab. Don’t wing it.

Do you research. Understand your audience. Take the time and effort that the people in the audience or in the meeting deserve.

Don’t just go through the motions.

Get it right. Knock it out of the ballpark. And, please, don’t suck.

Thank you to guest blogger  Gail Lamarche for recapping Lexblog’s webinar, Find Your Voice – Speak With a Purpose , featuring Faith Pincus.

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Faith Pincus
Faith Pincus delivered part two in a series of public speaking webinars on behalf of Lexblog. You can read the highlights of the first webinar, Find Your Voice, Speak with a Purpose, here. In today’s webinar, Faith shared the best and easiest ways to organize your presentation, how to write catchy introductions and how to make your conclusions memorable. She began with several quotes which exemplify the power of language, including the famous quote from Martin Luther King “I have a dream.” That’s what a successful speech can do — statements made by speakers 50 years ago still have an impact today. In developing your speech, think of the “AMI” methodology = Audience (your speech is about them, not you); Message (develop the purpose of your speech and write it down); and, Image (it’s not just about how you look, but how you deliver). Five Steps to Organize Your Presentation

  1. Define the Purpose or Thesis. Write down what you are trying to accomplish and then say it out loud. If you need to take a breath while saying, it’s too long.
  2. Gather Supporting Materials. Use a variety of supporting materials that will help you explain the concept you are trying to teach or discuss. As you go through the materials, think about different ways you can illustrate your point. Why use supporting materials? It will help you connect with audience and will “humanize” your topic in a way your audience can absorb. Use facts, quotes, cases, statistics, interviews, articles, deposition testimony, even role playing. Stories are huge – humans relate to stories and are very helpful in communicating complex ideas.
  3. Determine Top Three Points. After you gather the supporting materials and have determined your purpose, look at it all and find the top three points only.  Why just three?  Research shows that people remember and absorb odd numbers.  All the information you gathered can be broken-down into those three points.
  4. Determine the Organizational Pattern. You can deliver your speech in several different ways, including chronological or sequential order, it depends on the topic. Lawyers often use a “problems/solutions” order or even a “compare/contrast” order taking one idea and comparing to the other.
  5. Create An Outline. Do NOT write your presentation out as a speech. Most people are not capable of reading a presentation word for word and then delivering it in conversation style with enough finesse to have impact. You are not the President of the United States with a teleprompter. Best practice is to create it in outline format, maybe even in full sentence format and practice out loud to see what works and what doesn’t. When you write it down, it may sound brilliant but when you start saying it out loud, you trip over it or some sentences or it may not make sense. As you practice and become more familiar with the presentation, reduce the full sentence outline to a key word outline.  The key word outline is meant as a prompt to remind you what you want to talk about. Ask if the outline accomplishes your purpose (Step 1).

Create Catchy Introductions The purpose of an introduction is to grab your audience’s attention, peak their curiosity and interest and connect with them. The introduction should clarify your purpose and preview your main points. Connect with the audience the entire time with good eye contact; it will boost your credibility. You only have a few moments to make a first impression and establish you are credible. Don’t fumble papers and NEVER read your introduction, in fact memorize it. Make sure it’s short – in fact five minutes or less is good. No one wants to listen to a 20-minute introduction.  It shouldn’t take that long to introduce your presentation and grab your audience’s attention. What goes in an introduction? Faith uses great quotes. You can also use statistics, anecdotes, stories, humor, rhetorical questions, “raise your hand if” questions.” Faith cautions that if you are going to use humor, make sure it’s funny, non-offensive and somehow related to your topic. Test the humor by running it by someone that doesn’t have to laugh at your jokes.  What doesn’t go into an introduction?  Statement like “thank you so much for having me speak today” and “what a great audience.” Develop Memorable Conclusions Conclusions should reinforce your image and message and include a call to action. People remember the first and last thing they hear so reinforce your message in your conclusion and leave on a strong note. What goes in a conclusion? Conclusions should not be any longer than your introduction. Summarize your three main points, take something from your introduction and make reference in your conclusion to bring your speech full circle. Never end with “okay, that’s it, we’re done” or ask “any questions?” Faith has a good suggestion to say “I have time for a couple questions and then I’m going to wrap it up.” That way you end with your note and message. Side note, make sure you do wrap it up in a timely manner and not continue on for another 20 minutes. How do you deliver a conclusion? The same way you do an introduction. Memorize it and deliver it with confidence and good eye-contact.

Audience Questions

Q. Is it best to take questions during your presentation or at the end? A. Faith said to do what works best for you there are no hard fast rules. If audience is big, you may want to wait until the end. Can you do so with getting sidetracked? You don’t want to answer so many questions that you ran out of time to finish your presentation. She suggested handing out 4 x 6 cards, have someone collect them and state that you will take time to answer questions throughout the day. Q. What can you do when a member of the audience is monopolizing your time with questions? A. Take back in control. The second the person takes a breath, interrupt and say that’s really interesting and you have a lot of great ideas. Validate what they are saying but ask them to write down their questions and see you on break. Then seek them out to answer them so as not to lose credibility. Q. What are some tips to overcoming fear and nerves? A. Faith suggested some great books:  Speaking Scared and Sounding Good by Peter Desberg and Overcoming Your Fear of Public Speaking – A Proven Method by Dr. Motley. Faith also suggested to be well prepared and practice a lot! Take your nervousness and harness the energy. Don’t let mental conversation in your head take control.

Thank you to guest blogger  Gail Lamarche for recapping Lexblog’s webinar, Find Your Voice – Speak With a Purpose , featuring Faith Pincus.

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Once again Kevin O’Keefe offered LexBlog’s clients a great webinar on March 16 with Faith Pincus, a licensed attorney who trains lawyers (and others) nationally on how to enhance their speaking ability. Faith blogs at Speech Advice. Faith began her presentation by quoting Thomas Edison,

Opportunities are missed because they are dressed in overalls and look like work.

Speaking engagements are work, but they are also excellent opportunities which allow you to shine as an expert in your field.  So how can you get speaking engagements? Think of Your Audience To whom do you want to speak? Typically, for lawyers, the audience can be broken down to three categories:

  1. attorneys that can refer clients to you;
  2. attorneys that can hire you directly; and,
  3. attorneys that can bring you on as a consultant;

Then, reach out to groups or associations that can refer business to you. Perhaps it’s a Realtor or builders association. Also check your local chamber of commerce websites for clubs, don’t forget the public can hire you directly too! Faith gave an example of trust and estate attorney she worked with, he found great success speaking to local church groups. Think outside the box! Who To Approach Once you determine your audience, do your research. Find out who handles the guest speakers for that organization and research the person who you will be “pitching”. Check social media avenues to see if you’re connected to them in some degree on LinkedIn. If you have a connection in common, reach out for a referral. Having a personal connection by someone who can attest recommend you is better than a cold call. After all, it’s all about relationships. How To Ask – Back to Basics If you can’t go that route through a connection, e-mail (or make a good ole fashioned phone call) and offer to speak for their group…nicely! Faith cautioned not to be arrogant by saying “you are the king or queen” of “x.” Offer to speak in a friendly, causal, but professional manner. There is nothing wrong with asking people for speaking engagements. The answer is always no if you don’t ask. If there’s a specific venue or program, ask to speak – especially if you are speaking for free. If you want to speak for a fee, that’s a whole different ball game. Be sure to include your background and qualifications, let them know why you are an expert in your niche. Also mention any honors or recognitions you earned (top 100 lawyers, 40 under 40, etc.). If you have an audio clip, presentation outline, newsletter or blog post, offer it to the conference organizer. Make Speaking Engagements Worthwhile If you are going to make the effort to speak, do a good job by meeting the needs of your audience. Faith recommends to show up at least a half hour early to meet your audience.  Ask them why they are there and what they wanted to learn. That way you can tailor your presentation on the fly and, as a bonus, you have that one-on-one connection. Faith also shared the “don’t” list:

  • Don’t show up 15 minutes before and just stare at your notes. Use this opportunity as much as you can to network. You already known as the expert. And have a better chance of getting referrals.
  • Don’t wait until the night before to prepare. Practice, practice, practice.
  • Don’ read, work from an outline. Get a DVD on public speaking, go to Toastmasters and check out Six Minutes blog, do everything you can to improve.
  • Don’t put up a whole bunch of text on slides and just read off them. PowerPoint is meant as a visual aid. Prepare an outline, review it and mark where will slides enhance what your message. Then find images, perhaps even create custom cartoons. Need inspiration? Prepare a leave-behind with the information.

Marketing

  • Use your blog pre and post event. Check out Class Action Countermeasurers. It lists topics on blogs with links to the presentations, speakers and organizations. Include your speaking engagements on your firm bio.
  • Repurpose your presentation. Use it as a blog topic or article in a newsletter. Plan ahead and ask if you can get an audio copy of the event. If you can’t, there are recording devices that can attach to a lavaliere. Hire a professional audio editor (at anywhere from $40-$100/hour) to get nuggets to post on your blog and website. The audio editor can make a nice introduction and cut out the “um’s and ah’s.” When you have a good video opportunity, use it.
  • If you get evaluations from where you speak, hang on to them for next time you want to speak. Get testimonials and get audio sample to pitch to other organizations.
  • Use social media. Post your presentation on Slideshare, an excellent resource for research and a plug-in application on LinkedIn. Speaking of LinkedIn, do you lawyers know that LinkedIn has surpassed Martindale Hubbell in lawyer profiles?
  • There’s also TripIt which allows your connections to see where you are going and when you are speaking.
  • Write a blog post before the event: hey I’m going, hope to see you there; here’s my email, reach out to me. A perfect example, is our Legal Marketing friend, Nancy Myrland. While there, do a short blog post on what you have seen, observed and learned. When you return from the conference, highlight hot discussions and share with your audience.

Recommended Reading:

  1. Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive
  2. Slide:Ology

Q&A Kevin shared the following audience questions:

  • Q:  How do lawyers let people know what they do when they are speaking in front of a large audience? A:  Faith, Present in a thoughtful manner. Include short war stories and mention in the course of your presentation how you help your clients. Also prepare a leave-behind and include a checklist that is valuable, something your audience needs to refer to over and over again. Get that top of mind awareness.
  • Q:  Toastmasters, yay or nay? A:  Faith, Yay. Toastmasters is an excellent organization for people to get over the fear of public speaking and nervousness. The program is designed to allow you to practice over and over again in a non-pressured environment. The audience is just like – not trained public speakers that need help. Of course, you can also hire speaking coaches, like Faith.
  • Q:  What can you do with all those videos from previous presentations? A:   Faith, Hire professional video editors (typical hourly rate $60-$70/hour). Split up the video in two minute segments with great sound bites and post on YouTube, your website and blog. The video editor should be able to do a nice phase in and phase out and don’t forget to add a byline.
  • Q:  What can I do if I don’t have any video presentations? A:   Faith:  Go to an A/V recording studio and do a 5 or 10 minute presentation. A:  Kevin:  Bloggers have power to get speaking engagements. In fact, Kevin’s speaking engagements grew tremendously after he started blogging. He recommends: 
    • following blogs and publications distributed by organizations that invite people to speak via RSS feeds (or your Google Reader);
    • follow them on Twitter
    • reach out and connect with then on LinkedIn
    • get to know conference coordinators, become their confidant and someone they can trust
    • use your blog tools; share word of events on your blog; set up a speaking engagements or presentations topic that’s easy to find

    Two main take-aways:  do your research to get a speaking engagement and once you do, don’t waste the opportunity.