5 Tips on Training the Trainer for Public Speaking Success

Why should the attorneys at your firm beef up their presentation skills? According to a recent survey by B2B marketing agency Hinge, speaking engagements are far and away the top source for generating new business leads.

Thirty-five percent ranked speaking engagements as the number-one source for lead generation, beating out referrals, which received 18 percent. Blattel Communications President Traci Stuart cited the study to kick off LMA West-Bay Area’s first program of the year, “Training the Trainers for Public Speaking Success.”

Stuart moderated the Feb. 14 program featuring three public speaking experts who regularly work with lawyers, CEOs and other professionals. Here are some of the tips they provided to help marketing professionals perfect those all-important presentations.


Training the trainer.jpg

From left, moderator Traci Stuart and panelists Doris Pickering, David Adams and Marianne Fleischer.

1. Lead With Your Goals 

According to David Adams, founder of RevenueWise, spend some time up front discussing the goals of the presentation. Acknowledge that there are two sets of goals. For the attorney, it’s about business development and building their brand. But the audience wants to learn something new, apply what they learn and enjoy themselves.

Adams recommends attorneys develop a “signature talk” on a topic that will be of interest to potential clients and won’t become outdated quickly.


2. Understand the Art of the Anecdote

Using storytelling to illustrate your point will help keep the audience engaged, said panelist Marianne Fleischer, head of Fleischer Communications, a former broadcast journalist.

To help a presenter develop a story, she encourages them to think in terms of a “hero on a quest.” The story contains a clear plot and a sudden twist or problem. In the end, the presenter reveals how the problem was resolved and what lessons were learned.

Ask the presenter questions to help draw out information that will be of interest to the audience. The goal should be to make them care, make them believe or make them do something, she said.


3. Let the Slides Be Your Guide

We’ve all seen a presenter make the common mistake of using PowerPoint slides filled with hard-to-read text. In the case of an attorney-presenter, the text may consist of legal codes that the lawyer updated from the last iteration of the presentation.

To avoid this approach, Doris Pickering of Silicon Valley Speaks said she asks the presenter to explain what’s on the slide to her in language that a layperson can understand.

“Make the slide presentation match what you’re saying,” Pickering said.

Adams likes to remind presenters that a PowerPoint is not the same thing as a report, a teleprompter or a handout. Don’t read from the slides. Sections of code and other long documents can be provided to the audience after the presentation. During the presentation, you want the audience to focus on what you are saying – not trying to read what’s on the screen.

“The speaker should always be the show,” Fleischer said.


4. Practice, Practice, Practice

Encourage your presenters to make time in their busy schedules to rehearse their speeches. Most people form a judgment about someone in just one-tenth of a second, Pickering said.

Pickering advises presenters to video themselves doing the presentation. Watching this will tip them off to any nervous habits or tics they might be unaware of, such as talking too fast, talking with their hands or using filler words like “um.”

To correct such problems, the panelists recommended techniques such as pulling on your finger or pausing briefly to harness that nervous energy.

If you have a presenter with the opposite problem – their delivery is monotone and boring, Pickering suggests asking them to tell you a silly story to get the creative side of the brain working. Fleischer said she recommends taking improv comedy classes.

Fleischer also suggested that presenters be ready for the unexpected.


Great idea! Have 2 presentations ready—1 short and 1 long—for those situations when you’re told you have 40 minutes and then suddenly they say you’ve only got 5 minutes. #LMAmkt pic.twitter.com/N5jWWoc9nh

— Marcia Delgadillo (@marcydel) February 14, 2019


If there’s a troublemaker in the room, Fleischer coaches presenters to bring the person in line by standing inappropriately close.

Remind the lawyers that practicing a presentation is part of their job and can be done during a commute, for example.


4. Give Gentle Feedback

Whether during the rehearsal phase or after the presentation is over, it can be tough to give critical feedback. No one likes finding out they did something wrong. Adams recommends asking in advance for permission to help the attorney refine the presentation. Offer the feedback in a way that will be easier to hear. For example, use phrases such as, "I'd like to see less of this and more of that,” he said.

If audience members are asked to rate the presentation after, collect the forms yourself and schedule time later to go over the results. You will be able to deliver the “bad news” in a softer way.


5. Don’t Forget the Follow-up

Since the attorney’s goal in making a presentation is to generate leads, don’t forget to coach them on how to seize the moment after they’ve made a good impression with their audience.


[BAY] David Adams: “always always always follow up with anyone who provides you a business card. Send them something or thank them for attending.” @tstuart: “and don’t bolt for the door! Stick around to answer questions and get business cards.” #LMAMKT

— LMA West Region (@LMAwest) February 14, 2019

To make sure they follow through, help the attorneys craft their follow-up emails, Adams said.

And, finally, presenters should always remember to thank the audience for taking the time to listen to what you have to say.

Fleischer calls it the “Mother Teresa mindset: Give them some love.”

Next Month's Program - Account Based Marketing

Join us on March 14th for the next LMA Bay Area program, titled, “Account Based Marketing (ABM) - How to Leverage Data and Technology to Identify, Engage and Grow Key Client Relationships”. Learn more about the speakers and register today!


Register Now




Laura Ernde is a San Francisco-based communications consultant. A former legal affairs journalist and State Bar of California communications director, she helps law firms and legal marketing agencies with content strategy and content creation. Connect with her via LinkedIn and Twitter. Email: laura.ernde@gmail.com


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