How Speaking Engagements Support Law Firm Business Development
By Gina Rubel
Speak Up and Be Heard
A great way to develop business for your law firm is to speak at business forums, industry conferences, bar association meetings, seminars, universities, and continuing legal education programs. Ask yourself, “Do I enjoy speaking or presenting?” If the answer is yes, whom do you wish to address? Once you have answered these questions, go ahead and add speaking engagements to your law firm business development and public relations arsenal.
When you speak on a topic of interest, you are positioned as an expert
in your areas of practice and industries served. You can demonstrate rather than sell your knowledge.
What to Say
Often attorneys are just as stumped for a speaking topic as they are for an article subject. If that’s the case for you, read this article for ways to come up with topics.
- Use “the FAQ Response Method,” “the TOC Review Method,” or “the Personal Experience Method” to determine your topic. Descriptions of these methods can be found in my previous article: Public Relations for Lawyers: Effective Strategies and Tactics to Capitalize on Writing for Publication
- Peruse podcasts, industry trade publications and blogs for trends.
- Take articles or blogs that you’ve written and use those same topics to create something valuable to present. For every article you write, you can create a topic to speak about and vice versa.
Where to Say It
Another common concern among attorneys getting into the speaking arena is determining where to speak for effective law firm business development. When evaluating conferences, determine if thought leaders in the industries that you serve will be present. Keep in mind that:
- Seminars target prospective and current clients.
- Bar association speaking engagements and industry association conferences target referral sources (i.e., attorneys who practice in different areas than you do).
- The locations and formats for your speaking engagements are endless if you are creative.
How to Say It
Most attorneys believe they are great public speakers. Often, they are. However, more often than not, they went to law school to learn how to be a litigator.
Lawyers know how to argue a point, demonstrate a point to persuade the judge and jury and to negotiate. These are all great skills to possess, but they don’t always translate well when using speaking engagements as a tool for law firm business development.
Some of my favorite professors in law school were amazing litigators and possessed the ability to teach and listen. Listening and responding is as important in a speaking presentation as is your topic choice. If you fail to make a dynamic presentation, you will fail to impress your audiences. Remember those excruciatingly boring lectures you sat through in law school? Don’t be that person.
It’s also important to identify the attendee demographics. Ask yourself, “Who is in attendance and what do they need from me?” Then prepare your program so that it is tailored to the attendees and meets their needs.
Once you know who your audience is and what its members need, it’s important to determine the format and duration of your presentation. Personally, I don’t care if you use PowerPoint® or a podium, flip charts or a digital whiteboard. What I do care about is that you don’t rely on tools to deliver your presentation but rather use them to enhance it.
Be sure to prepare a hand out. It should have a shelf-life: a checklist, a case update, a list of resources, etc. In addition:
- Make sure the handout is branded.
- Don’t hand out your firm’s brochure and your business card with your materials.
- Include actionable takeaways for your audience.
- Provide a way for attendees to follow up after the program for more information.
- Include the event hashtag (if there is one) and your Twitter profile name. For example, every time I speak at the Legal Marketing Association’s National Conference, I include my Twitter profile @ginarubel and the conference hashtag #LMA18 (used for 2018) in the footer of the presentation. This way, people who are in attendance and on Twitter can share thought leadership and information with their audience and others following the hashtag.
How to Leverage What You’ve Said for Law Firm Business Development
Once your presentation is complete, be sure to stay afterward to answer questions and have additional conversations with the attendees.
Send select attendees a thank you letter and include additional information that may be helpful.
Take time to follow up with those who expressed interest in learning more about you or your law firm or those who expressed concern about a specific matter.
Be careful not to overtly solicit business, but rather, get to know how you can help those interested and let them know how to reach you if they have a need.
Copyright © 2018 by Gina Furia Rubel. All rights reserved.
First published in 2007 | Furia Rubel Communications, Inc.
Library of Congress Control Number: 2007941911
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