You’ve decided to offer to present a medical topic to a group of attorneys at their law firm. These are some techniques of how to engage an attorney.
You can stimulate engagement in a number of different ways. It is easiest to understand them if you envision yourself standing in front of a room of attorneys. Perhaps you are giving a continuing legal education program to the attorneys during the lunch hour.
How to engage attorneys – ask questions
Attorneys are used to being lectured. It’s unusual for the person at the podium to engage the audience. Since I was aware of this, I planned something different when I did a presentation for attorneys.
As part of a panel of legal nurse consultants presenting at an attorney conference, I asked 5 questions. I had a helper, who was an attorney who liked to be playful. I asked a question, and then my helper threw a soft foam ball to the attorney who raised his hand if he thought he knew the answer to the question. The attorney caught the ball, and then had a chance to answer the question. The energy in the room rose. People laughed and got engaged in the topic. My helper was disappointed when my time was up; he wanted to throw more balls.
The legal nurse consultant who followed me mumbled and read her talk. I watched the attorneys slump down, lower their eyes and tune out.
Ask powerful questions
Ask really powerful questions that will result in engaging the attorneys’ attention. They don’t have to necessarily answer your questions; you can ask a rhetorical question.
Make the attorney think. If you are asking fact-based questions, praise the person who makes an attempt at the answer. If it not correct, I frequently say, “That’s one answer. Does anyone have another?” or “Who can expand on that?”
Asking rhetorical questions is completely legitimate. Pause for just a moment. Give them a moment to process the question and formulate a response. Many uncomfortable speakers rush into the silence instead of allowing people time to think of the answer.
How to engage attorneys: change their physical position
Another to get a response is to get people to vote with a change in position. For example, you can describe a case. Have everyone stand up. Ask them to sit down if they think the plaintiff won, and to remain standing if they think the defense won. Getting people to stand up gives them a few seconds of break from sitting, and raises the energy level in the room. This will engage attorneys.
Answer by raising their hands
You might even say “I’m going to ask you a question and I really want to hear from you all so please raise your hand for me, because this is important.”
If you’re looking for an oral response, count to 10. Smile, keep your eye contact with them and count to 10 and usually at the end of that somebody will answer. However, no one will respond if you ask for their participation either by raising their hand or ask for an oral response and you drop your eyes and you don’t look at them.
It’s very important that you keep eye contact whenever you are expecting a response from people. Just look at them and smile and look expectant. That’s when you have the greatest chance of gaining that engagement. If you do not get any response, it probably means your question is too difficult or not well phrased.
The critical thing about asking powerful questions, especially if you’re looking for oral responses, is that you have to let people participate at the level they are comfortable with. You never want anybody to feel uncomfortable, embarrassed, or lose face in any way.
Get your audience of attorneys engaged. They will enjoy themselves and learn more.
This material was abstracted from Legal Nurse Consulting Marketing by Pat Iyer. Pat has made many presentations to attorneys. She has been an LNC since 1987.