Sunday, October 31, 2010

Public Speaking Tips: Presenting Awards

In the last several months I've seen numerous lawyers present awards at various events. Simply put, we can all improve. For some people, improvement starts with these basic do's and don'ts.

How to Present an Award:
  1. Do prepare by researching the award and the recipient. If possible, talk with the recipient ahead of time, even if it's only a few minutes before the presentation. The audience can tell from your remarks and body language whether you've met the recipient. Isn't it nicer when you can tell that the presenter has personally met the recipient and knows more than how to pronounce the person's name? Don't admit that you just met the person for the first time a minute beforehand.
  2. Do state the significance of the award, even if it's an award that you think is obvious such as the Pro Bono Spirit Award. Also, if the person after whom the award is named is present, acknowledge his or her presence. I saw a lawyer forget to do this earlier this year - - at least one good reason to have a written outline no matter how familiar you are with the award and the winner.
  3. Do state the criteria for the award.
  4. Do describe how the recipient met the criteria and how he or she was chosen.
  5. Do say you are [fill in the blank] to present the [XYZ] Award to [recipient's name] as you gesture warmly toward the recipient to welcome him or her up to receive the award.
  6. Do know where the award is and have it ready. Don't hunt for it on the table behind you. It's not an afterthought.
  7. Do handle the award as if it is valuable.
  8. Do smile and make eye contact with the recipient as you hand him or her the award.
  9. Don't read verbatim from the recipient's list of accomplishments. Choose highlights relevant to the award, tell a story or be conversational in other ways.
  10. Don't call the recipient to the podium before you make your remarks. We've all sympathized with award winners standing awkwardly at the front of a room while they are praised. Don't impose that on anyone!

Last, if you are nervous, stay focused on the award and the deserving recipient instead of yourself. Put your energy into honoring him or her!

If you would like coaching to start being a better public speaker, please contact me.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Elevator Speeches & Lawyers

What is an elevator speech and why do you need one as a lawyer? Never mind why it's called an elevator speech, just remember two things:
  • It is a short, memorable description of what you do and who you do it for.
  • It is a marketing tool.

You need to have it ready for any time you meet someone new and they ask what you do. You also use it when you introduce yourself in front of a group.

Focus on the benefits you provide. To preclude snap judgments about lawyers and generate interest, focus on the benefits or results you provide and for whom. For example, when asked what you do, you could say "I am a tax lawyer". A more meaningful answer might be "I help small businesses reduce their taxes and be more profitable. I am a tax lawyer."

Connect with your audience. To be more memorable, take your listeners into account and, if applicable, adapt your description to them. For example, "I help small businesses like yours reduce their taxes and be more profitable." An estate planning lawyer could say to a new parent "I help new parents get at least a little more sleep by getting plans in place and having peace of mind. I am an estate planning lawyer."

Have energy. If you are bored with your own introduction, your audience will be too. If you don't believe in what you do, your audience won't either. Find the words that work for you, practice them with other people, and then try them. It's natural to keep revising your introduction until you are really comfortable. To keep from trailing off and keep your energy up, keep it short.

Hint: to find your energy and the words that work best for you, consider what you like most about what you do for your clients.

The keys are keeping it short, simple and descriptive - the benefits of what you do and for whom.

Contact me for a single coaching call to develop and practice your self-introduction. or 734-663-7905.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Marketing 101 For Lawyers Without a Marketing Plan

Here are marketing basics I discussed with a group of 12 mediators-in-training today. The group was a mix of lawyers, educators, accountants, business people and others, all of whom had loosely formed ideas about how they want to use their mediator skills. Our time was limited to one hour. As we talked they filled out their worksheet with information that made sense to them personally.

If you keep meaning to put together a marketing plan, but never get around to it, limit yourself to 15 minutes right now and use this outline. The bullet points are just ideas to get you thinking.

Even if you are way beyond Marketing 101, take a fresh look at who you want as clients and ask yourself how you can sharpen your focus. Take a fresh look at your tactics and your tools and ask yourself how you can be more effective.

I. Your Target Market - Who Do You Want To Reach?
  • Who needs your services?
  • What kinds of people or situations do you like to service?
  • Where do you already have opportunities, a lot of connections, a knowledge base, or a reputation? (i.e. Based on your work history, education, extra curricular activities, family, etc.)

II. Your Marketing Tactics - How Will You Reach Your Market?

  • Networking through personal contacts, associations, etc. related to your target market?
  • Referral sources (list them by name and/or by occupation)?
  • Online technology (website, blog, email, e-newsletters, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.)?
  • Writing and/or public speaking?
  • Advertising?
  • Low tech, low cost placement of marketing material (community bulletin boards, etc.)?

III. Your Marketing Tools - What Will You Use?

  • Register your name as a domain name. Even if you don't use it, no one else can.
  • Create a Google profile for yourself.
  • Business cards.
  • LinkedIn - a simple, no cost way to start a professional presence on the web.
  • Prepare a 30 second elevator speech.
  • Website
  • Blog
  • Brochures
  • Twitter

Choose marketing tactics and marketing tools that fit you. Put your plan in writing. It's not a plan unless it's in writing. Go with your strengths, stay focused on your target market, and get started by taking one small action step and then another and another . . . . The key is to stay focused on your target market.

If you would like coaching to develop a marketing plan that works for you, please contact me.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

October is Pro Bono Month

October has been designated Pro Bono Month by the ABA, the State Bar of Michigan and many other states to highlight the need for and importance of pro bono legal assistance.

As a result of a pledge by the Board members of the Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association, I've signed up for training at the end of the month in order to take on a pro bono domestic violence case. I'm looking forward to dusting off my litigation skills but I expect that a d.v. case will be very challenging in many ways. It's a way to stretch my comfort zone, learn something new and hopefully do something important legally and personally for someone else. I'll report back as this goes along.

If you want help finding or taking on a pro bono case, contact the State Bar, the Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association, or your state bar, local legal aid office or local bar association. Many law schools have students available to work on a matter with you through their pro bono programs.