Thoughts and news from the LMA-MN – Midwest Region – Minnesota Local Group

From Legalese to Marketese: 8 Tips for Presenting to Lawyers

As marketers, we are bombarded with information on how to craft messages for our audiences. We attend seminars and read books on effective marketing communication. Many of us have mastered the art of written collateral — press releases seem to write themselves sometimes, and we can edit attorney bios in our sleep. But when it comes to presenting, especially to attorneys, many of us aren’t as polished. Unfortunately, a bad delivery can negate the best message.

Use these eight tips to present with ease, no matter how tough the audience, and to ensure that your lawyers see and utilize your value.

1) Don’t apologize
The first time I spoke at a practice group meeting, I opened with “I’ll try not to take too much time.” I wanted to show the attorneys I understood them, and I thought my self-awareness would earn me credibility. In effect, though, it gave them a pass to check out for my three-minute “PR 101” talk.

Remind attorneys of the value you provide them and the firm, and speak with a tone that says “You’re welcome” rather than “I’m sorry.”

2) Slow down
Confidence is key when presenting and persuading. One of the easiest ways to appear confident is to breathe deeply and speak calmly.

Think of the best speakers you’ve observed at your firm. Do they rush through their points like auctioneers, or do they breathe and make thoughtful pauses? If you aren’t confident in yourself (or don’t appear confident), why should your lawyers be confident in you?

3) Imagine them in their underwear  without their JDs
Lawyers are smart and deeply knowledgeable in their fields. So are you.

When it comes to marketing and business development, remember that you are the expert. When it’s your turn at the podium, get rid of jargon and fancy words meant to impress, and keep it simple.

What seems like common sense to full-time marketers could be brand new information to some attorneys. Speak to the least-experienced marketer in the room. Direct your message to the newest associate – not the most intimidating partner.

4) Use examples
Lawyers are more skeptical than 90 percent of the population, according to Mark Beese, president and business development consultant at Leadership for Lawyers. Skeptics need to see to believe.

When presenting to lawyers, show examples of recent, quantitative successes. Upgrade sentences like, “We helped the corporate practice get great PR for that deal,” to, “We secured stories about the transaction mentioning the firm in three national media outlets and two trade publications, with combined readerships of 1.5 million.” Beese also says that attorneys love stories. Share an anecdote about how the recent success resulted in additional opportunities for an individual or group.

5) Plant advocates
Use people in the room as your example whenever possible. I learned this tip at a practice group meeting where I presented about the benefits of PR. When I asked for questions, I got crickets until a member of the group shared how my group helped him land an interview with the Wall Street Journal. This immediately boosted my credibility and inspired others to chime in with their marketing thoughts and questions.

Again, attorneys are a skeptical group. Peer endorsements are one the most powerful persuasive tools at your disposal. Don’t hesitate to ask a marketing “believer” to advocate for you in your next presentation.

6) Speak to the individual
Which sentence better grabs your attention: “I’m here to help this group,” or “I’m here to help you?”

Lawyers are more autonomous than 89 percent of the population, according to Beese. Frame your language and presentation so that it would make sense if given to just one person in the room. This won’t devalue teamwork. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, so empowering individuals strengthens the whole.

7) Say “I get it”
To communicate effectively, start on common ground. It’s possible to empathize with lawyers for their workloads without discounting your value or apologizing for taking their time.

Use this phrase in every meeting to get heard: “I know you’re busy. I’m here to make (business development/marketing/PR) as easy as possible for you.”

8) Speak up
Be the breath of fresh air in the middle of the practice group’s drone fest. Project your voice, speak with expression, smile, and move!

Post written by Meg McCormick, PR Coordinator, Faegre Baker Daniels.

Have other presentation tips you want to share? Leave a comment below, or tweet me @McMeg612 with #LMAMN. 

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