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People tell me I’m a good public speaker, which is good to hear because as a trial attorney, I spend a lot of time up in front of a judge and jury, advocating aloud for my clients. I’ve found that public speaking outside of the courtroom is something I enjoy as well, and it’s an activity I’m spending more time doing lately. While it can be a very good way to communicate information, it’s not without its challenges. Believe it or not, I wasn’t always comfortable speaking in public — I was a quiet and shy kid — and I still get nervous before I step onstage, get behind a podium, or deliver an argument in court. The secret is simple: Lots and lots of preparation. I start with whatever the topic is. I look at the experience I have and start doing research and brainstorming. A dry-erase board is very helpful. From there, I come up with a list of things I want to be sure to mention, and I’ll write all those ideas down and then explain them in writing. Now I have a roadmap, and I know what I’ll be discussing. I also have those in-depth explanations, which are very important. Even if I don’t end up talking about all those topics in a great level of detail, it pays to be an expert, and it makes me more confident during the rest of the talk. I’ll practice talking those points out, writing them down again and again, and I’ll narrow it down a bit each time I do. For example, imagine I wanted to say, “Don’t cash any checks the insurance company sends you, especially unsolicited checks. That’s a trick they can use to end your claim before it starts.” I’d begin by writing the whole sentence out, and then I’d practice until I could see the words “unsolicited checks” and know exactly what those trigger points meant. This might take 30 or 40 tries, but my final notes would be minimal. That’s okay — by then I don’t need anything more than those trigger points. When the nerves hit, I try to do what feels natural. I learned recently that I tend to walk when I talk. If I try to stay still behind a podium, it’s harder for me to focus on what I’m saying. If you have a few habits that will make you more comfortable while speaking in public, go ahead and do them. Stack the deck in your favor, right? Russell’s Guide to Public Speaking BEAT STAGE FRIGHT!
“THE SECRET IS SIMPLE: LOTS AND LOTS OF PREPARATION.”
The reward for all this work is immense. I can share what I know and help a lot of people learn
something that I might have learned the hard way. By explaining my own successes (and my own failures), I hope to save others the time and get them more acquainted with the subject at hand. In court, I want to communicate the reality of my client’s case in a way that others can easily understand and empathize with. I’ve found that people also appreciate the fact I’m not some flamboyant big-shot attorney with no time for them. I’m just an average Joe who can help them understand something that I didn’t always understand myself.
And that’s what really matters.
Russell Button 214-888-2216
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