Kevin Patrick Law - August 2021


Legally Brief With Kevin Patrick Automobile accidents | Daycare injuries | wrongful death


When I was in eighth grade, I went to St. Joseph’s, a little parochia school in Marietta, Georgia. It was a fairly standard school, but there was one thing that made St. Joseph’s unique: the speech competition. Every year, all of the seventh- and eighth-graders had to compete to take home the title for the best 3–5-minute speech. There were two rounds. First, you had to give the speech to your entire class. Then, if you were one of the best, you had to stand up and share it in front of the whole school, including kids from kindergarten through eighth grade. I’ll never forget my eighth-grade experience

the way I was raised plays a role in my outlook, but I also think there are a few things everyone can do to make public speaking easier. 1. Pick a topic you’re passionate about. In eighth grade, I got to choose the Georgia state tree as my topic. I’m proud to live in Georgia, so I enjoyed the subject and was happy to speak about it. I think choosing a topic with value and meaning helps the words flow. 2. Embrace the challenge. Public speaking is definitely a challenge. Rather than pretending that it’s easy, I’d suggest

pausing to appreciate the difficulty, then choosing to embrace it anyway. Remember, you have the capacity to tackle hard things. 3. Say ‘no’ to gimmicks. I don’t actually think it helps to picture the audience in silly costumes! 4. Be true to yourself. Whether you’re making a statement in court or speaking to a class at school, your best bet is to be honest, straightforward, and candid in who you are and what you say. As Mark Twain once put it, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” 5. Smile. You’ll be happier, and so will your audience! This year, I’m taking my eighth-grade speech prowess up a notch. Just in time for Professional Speakers Day (Aug. 7), I’ve helped the State Bar of Georgia’s Commission on Professionalism create an offshoot called the Writers’ and Speakers’ Bureau. This fall, I’ll be part of the inaugural team at the bureau to mentor younger lawyers and help them polish their writing and speaking skills. I’m looking forward to the challenge!

in the speech contest. We were allowed to choose our own topics, and I decided to give my speech on the state tree of Georgia. Every night before the contest, I practiced well into the evening, and my mom, who was a school teacher, stood in as my audience and judging panel. I can still remember the speech’s opening lines to this day: “The state tree of Georgia is a live oak tree. Oak trees symbolize strength and sturdiness …” When the time came to give the speech, I sailed through the first round and on to the second! The finals took place in the school’s old gymnasium, and I vividly recall the stares of my classmates and the imposing presence of the panel of judges at the back of the gym. Luckily, parents could watch. It grounded me knowing my mom and dad were cheering me on. I stood up proudly, gave my speech, and took second place! Looking back, my success in that speech contest may have indicated I would make a good lawyer. According to the National Social Anxiety Center, about 73% of people suffer from “glossophobia,” or anxiety around public speaking. I’m fortunate not to be one of them. I get a bit nervous before speeches, including my statements in court today, but it's not crippling. In fact, I think it keeps me from getting complacent! It’s possible

This publication is for informational purposes only, and no legal advice is intended.

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