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Here’s the Pitch: Speaking


Janet Falk, Ph.D.

Falk Communications and Research

This article is part III in a series about the FIVE essential marketing activities to grow your practice.

After networking, public speaking is the most powerful way to introduce yourself to prospective clients and keep in touch with referral sources.

Speaking takes different forms, depending on your audience and the venue. You may be the sole presenter, a panelist or a moderator. Perhaps you will team up with a client or colleague to present overlapping perspectives. Video and podcasting are popular platforms to promote your practice and your insights.

Let’s look more closely at these multiple speaking opportunities. Here’s the pitch; get ready to take your swing.

Practice first. If you’re a novice speaker, start by talking to a friendly audience. Many networking groups grant members a 10-minute slot to describe their services. Use this opportunity to present a summary of two or three areas of your practice. Review an example or two of a successful engagement with a client to illustrate how you advise individuals on certain issues and solve problems for business owners.

Practice your talking points to perfect your delivery and ensure you do not exceed the time limit. It’s helpful to record your presentation, so you can adjust the tempo and critique the presentation.

Bar association events. Attorneys who often receive referrals from other lawyers should plan to speak at bar association events. Introduce yourself to the appropriate committee chair and propose a session on a timely issue, either for the practice area section or the membership at large. You may attract greater interest and attendance if you partner with someone from a different practice area. You might even extend your reach beyond the local bar organization to one in a nearby jurisdiction where your co-presenter is a member. Affiliated groups, for example, the County Women’s Bar Association or the Asian-American Bar Association, are other potential hosts. If you are not a member, invite a colleague who is involved with the organization to propose the program and co-present with you.

Panels. Similarly, recruit others for your speaking activity by organizing a panel presentation and serving as moderator. You will be front and center with the attendees, cultivate relationships with the individual panelists and support the status of the speakers in the association.

Industry and professional groups. Consider the industry groups and professional associations where your clients are active members. Suggest to a client that you jointly develop a case study of your recent successful engagement. Speaking to the group will enhance your client’s stature in their competitors’ eyes, and attendees will recognize that you understand their industry and the complex issues they are facing. Working closely together on the talk will strengthen your relationship with your client. This presentation has multiple wins for you both.

Use your referral sources. In addition, you can partner with a referral source and speak to that contact’s professional membership group. Whether a health care or insurance professional, a financial advisor or an accountant, their colleagues will be interested in your perspective on the legal and business implications of the latest regulatory change. It’s always wise to know more than one referral source in an industry sector and cultivate mutually beneficial relationships.

Take a leaf from your colleagues in the real estate sector. They often speak to residential real estate brokers, mortgage bankers and insurance professionals at employer-sponsored lunch and learn sessions. Identify companies that might host you as a speaker for their team members and suggest current topics for a presentation.

Start-ups. Many cities and universities have established incubators and centers for start-ups. As these businesses grow, their founders will need legal services beyond the incorporation and intellectual property issues they typically encounter in their early stages. Approach the executive directors of these organizations and offer to speak to their group on, say, advertising or employment law as it relates to small companies.

Law schools. How has the law in your area of practice changed since you passed the bar exam? Consider a Then and Now theme for a presentation to your law school or the prelaw organization at your undergraduate college. Plant a seed for future contact with these students: someday they will be in-house counsel and prospective clients, potential referral sources or even associates at your firm.

Webinars and Facebook Live. Of course, you are free to organize your own presentation, whether a webinar or a Facebook Live gathering. At an Ask Me Anything session, your contacts can get answers to frequently asked questions and gain insight into hot topics.

Podcasts. Podcasts are another venue for speaking. Consider the programs that your referral sources and potential clients might listen to and review some recent broadcasts. Identify a topic that has not been addressed or requires an update. Introduce yourself to the podcast host or producer and underscore the value of your insights to the audience.

Some podcast hosts follow a set format and may supply you with a list of questions. Others may invite you to pose questions in advance. Either way, you will have ample airtime to develop your thoughts before the program.

Videos. Video clips, like podcasts, are a popular mode of speaking virtually to many people. You might record short segments where you explain certain concepts in your area of practice. Review a recent win for a client, the lesson learned and why it is important to others in that industry or in a similar situation.

You could create best practices and how-to videos and assemble them on your website or a separate YouTube channel. Be sure to use descriptive labels, so they can be found in an online search by a viewer who has not met you. For example, a family law video is best titled Child Interviews in Custody Cases rather than Custody Issues: Part Two.

With an online recording website such as Loom.com, you can share what is displayed on your computer screen. Use this approach to highlight essential sentences in a document as you explicate them in more detail. This technique enlivens the presentation of a checklist. You could also delve more deeply into a technical document, like a health care proxy, and explore alternative choices.

Social media and your website. Consider that a recorded event, whether a webinar, video or podcast, may be dissected into shorter segments. Focus on essential ideas or topics and share them as social media posts and on your website. Indicate how long the video or audio clip is (usually three to six minutes), so the viewer or listener sees the time commitment in advance.

Handouts. Clearly, each of these opportunities to address specific audiences caters to that group’s preferred format of events or recorded content. Plan to make a flyer of background material available whenever possible. A checklist of best practices or things NOT to do that bears your name, email, phone number and website URL is invaluable.

Such a handout is readily distributed or accessible to your audience: attendees at an event, a follow-up email to viewers of a webinar, or a link in the podcast program’s show notes. Plus, audience members may easily share these materials with contacts in their own circles.

As you step up to the plate for your speaking opportunities, remember that you can create content with video and events; suggest topics and panels for bar associations, client industry groups and incubators; plus participate in webinars and podcasts. Be sure to share your recorded sessions and clips of particularly insightful thoughts on your website and social media accounts.

Here’s the pitch; now swing for the fences and the crowd will cheer.

Janet Falk is the head of Falk Communications and Research in New York City. She provides media relations and marketing communications services to law firms and consultants. Janet presented Tips to Improve Your Remote Networking Success and How to Ethically Introduce Yourself to Reporters and Speak about Your Practice, Cases and Other Matters, available from PLI Programs On Demand.

Also available from PLI Programs On Demand:


Disclaimer: The viewpoints expressed by the authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, viewpoints and official policies of Practising Law Institute.

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