You have an opportunity to speak to a group of attorneys. You know what you want to say, but are not sure how you want to begin. As you consider this, boy do you understand the fear of public speaking!
You suspect there is a better way to begin than to say, “Thank you so much for having me here today. I want to thank John for his introduction and giving me a chance to speak to you.”
Instead, Start Strong
In planning your opening, recognize you have a small window of opportunity to get people’s attention. The more dramatically you begin your talk, the more people you’ll get onboard.
Begin with one or two compelling opening lines. You could:
- Make a startling statement.
- Tell a powerful story.
- Recite a relevant quote or statistic.
- Ask a question. “Jane Martin’s death shook the medical staff. Do you want to know how I realized that?”
To strengthen your opening, have the first few sentences memorized. Otherwise, you’ll be tempted to read them, which means you’ll lose that all-important chance to make initial direct eye contact with your audience.
As much as possible, convey that you are relaxed. No one in the audience needs to hear that you are nervous. They are rooting for you.
I recommend writing out your talk so you know what you want to say, and then reading it several times so that it flows when you are delivering it. The more prepared you are prior to your public speaking, the better you know your text, the easier is to remember larger chunks. You can also practice by reading it aloud several times. Pretend you’re speaking to the audience. Get comfortable with your material.
Speak Clearly During Public Speaking
Since how you say something has more impact than what you say, clarity of speech is essential. For example:
- “She wasn’t the nurse who entered the medication order incorrectly.” Maybe someone was.
- “She wasn’t the nurse who entered the medication order incorrectly.” Might the error have occurred In another way?
When people read prepared remarks, they don’t always pay attention to where they put the emphasis on words. This gives a speech a confusing and sometimes lifeless quality. The speaker loses the qualities of communication and connection. The audience loses interest.
Other verbal factors play a role in connection. Project your voice so the audience can easily hear you. Don’t count on the sound system to do this for you during public speaking.
You need good inflection, a pleasing quality of pitch and intonation. Think about how you tune out when someone speaks in a monotone. It can almost be physically painful.
- Vary how you speak.
- Use heightened emphasis when you’re making an important point.
- Pace yourself. Some people talk so quickly that it’s clear they just want to get it over and get off the stage.
- Slow down, and speak in a more measured manner. Give the members of the audience the chance to digest what you’re saying and then continue. Pause.
Think of pacing, pauses, and emphasis as verbal punctuation. Look over your speech. See where you have commas, colons, em-dashes, and periods. Pause for transitions from one paragraph to the following one.
This, again, makes the case for reading your speech aloud. If you can, recruit an audience, even of one. Ask that person to tell you when you’re going too fast or not using enough emphasis. Ask if the points you’re making are clear.
This kind of practice will also make you feel more confident about delivering your presentation—and confidence is everything.
Want to discover how to ace any presentation to an attorney? How to Grow Your LNC Business has 4 chapters purely devoted to successfully sharing your knowledge with attorneys. In this book you’ll discover
1 How to Tackle Your Fear of Presenting
2 How to Create Powerful Professional Presentations
3 What You Can Learn about Presenting from Actors
4 Seven Biggest Presentation Mistakes