Rainmaking Recommendation #249: A Deeper Dive Into Rainmaking Tactics (Part 3 – Public Speaking)

The two most incredible ways to showcase your knowledge are public speaking and writing.  And if you are not doing one or the other, or even both, you are doing yourself a disservice as a potential Rainmaker. 

The internet has become a fixture in our lives and a necessity because of the pandemic of 2020. We can do almost anything on the internet, from buying food to finding love.  But one of my favorite things about the internet, particularly for me, who is an information junkie, is the education and knowledge one can gain.  Most of my friends and colleagues will tell you that I am a wealth of useless knowledge, but then again, is any knowledge genuinely useless?    

In addition, the internet can be a fantastic place to hone your public speaking skills.  The number of seminars, webinars, online courses, and videos available on the internet is mind-blowing.  And the various places in which you can promote and post your videos are endless.  And you can learn anything from them.  So, are you contributing to the education of your clients and potential clients?

Advantages of Public Speaking:

  • Online and offline presentations can help position you as an expert:* When you speak with authority, you will be perceived as an authority. 
  • Education-Based Marketing: We use a term in the marketing industry entitled Education-Based Marketing or EBM.  EBM provides your clients and referral sources with the free information they need to make informed decisions. 
  • You showcase your personality:  Utilizing speaking opportunities allows your potential clients and referral sources to see your face and hear your voice.  They will have a chance to know your personality in a small way.  They will get to like you.  They will get to trust that you have the knowledge they need. And (say it with me), people do business with people they know, like, and trust.

Unfortunately, for many lawyers (and many people in general), public speaking is one of their biggest fears. According to an article on the National Social Anxiety Center website:

The fear of public speaking is the most common phobia ahead of death, spiders, or heights. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that public speaking anxiety, or glossophobia, affects about 73% of the population. The underlying fear is judgment or negative evaluation by others. Public speaking anxiety is considered a social anxiety disorder.

As a quick aside, this is also one of the main reasons many people hate to network – the fear that they will be judged or evaluated negatively by others. 

How to Get Over the Fear of Public Speaking:

First, let me say this.  I love having an audience.  Whether it is an audience of one or one thousand, I love to perform and present.  But, if you think that I do not get nervous and that the butterflies in my stomach aren’t turning to pterodactyls, you are mistaken.  Immediately before “going on stage” – whether that stage is a virtual or live presentation – I am incredibly nervous.  But, my nervousness ends immediately after I say my first sentence. 

Now, I believe that nervousness is necessary.  It means you care enough to do the best presentation you can at that time.  If you go on “stage” with cockiness or smugness that you are the best, the audience will be able to feel that, and your arrogance will turn them off. 

But if that nervousness is truly anxiety, you need to find ways to alleviate that feeling before going on stage.

  • Write out your presentation:   When giving a presentation, I write the entire presentation out like one long monologue of a script. First, I think of exactly what to say and how I want to say it. Then, I read it a few times to get the ideas into my head.
  • Turn the presentation into bullet points:  I then take the script I have written and boil it down to pertinent bullet points. 
  • Practice:  Then I practice. I practice. I practice.  Each time you practice, you are making sure that the information on what you are speaking is embedded into your brain and comfortable being a bit impromptu.  The more prepared you are, the less fear you will feel (again, some anxiety is customary and reasonable). 

One of the techniques you can use is to practice in front of a video camera.  And, without being too judgmental on how you did, evaluate the things that need to be done better.  For example, many of us use “verbal ticks” or filler words when speaking.  These are words or phrases we constantly use without even knowing it.  For me, one of my verbal ticks is the phrase: “That being said.” For others, it may be “ums,” or “like,” or even whole phrases like mine. 

When you are watching yourself after recording the video, be kind to yourself.  Just notice what you would like to change and then try again with those changes.  The more often you do so, the easier the changes become to incorporate and the less uneasy you will feel.

For those who have Microsoft 365, an excellent program can be used along with the PowerPoint you create called “Presenter Coach.”

Presenter Coach helps you prepare in private to give more effective presentations.

Presenter Coach evaluates your pacing, pitch, your use of filler words, informal speech, euphemisms, and culturally sensitive terms, and it detects when you’re being overly wordy or are simply reading the text on a slide.

After each rehearsal, you get a report that includes statistics and suggestions for improvements.

And for those who have friends or colleagues who can give excellent feedback without being judgmental or hurtful, ask them to listen to your presentation.

Every time you practice, you will take much of the fear out of presenting until all you feel, before stepping on stage, is a little bit of nervousness (which again is good) that should go away after the first 30 seconds minute of your talk.

Several coaches (myself included) can help you with your presentations and performing style.  And there is an organization that has been around nearly 100 years, since 1924, that explicitly assists people with their communications and presentations, Toastmasters International

Public Speaking is one of the best ways to showcase your knowledge.  And, if done correctly can lead to so many opportunities – not only opportunities to speak more, but referrals and new clients.  Just one presentation I did for ALI-CLE has netted me many new clients during the past year.  It can happen for you, too. 

In the following Rainmaking Recommendation, you will learn about where to speak, including webinars, seminars, podcasts, and live events. 

*The words expert and expertise, specialist, and specialize may be unethical according to your state’s Rules of Professional Conduct.

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