Speak Up with Confidence

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Public speaking. It is enough to bring fear to the hearts of most people.

Dogs, clowns, thunder, flying — those are all common fears. But the fear that consistently tops lists of phobias is the fear of public speaking.

Lawyers should be concerned because public speaking is an integral part of their jobs that can affect their success.

Public speaking: effect on success

If you don't believe that public speaking can be a factor in your success, just look at the current presidential election scene.

In a recent presidential debate on Sept. 26, neither candidate was seen as a superior speaker. However, Donald Trump consistently received the most condemnation for his comments and garnered the poorest ratings. His sniffling during the debate even led to a compilation of those sniffles in a YouTube video.

Hillary Clinton was not a model speaker, either. She was viewed by many as less than genuine.

It is not just this presidential election in which public speaking has played a part. John F. Kennedy's speaking abilities on national television propelled him to the presidency. Similarly, Barack Obama's oratorical skills are said to be one of the reasons for his being in the White House.

Great speakers have had lasting effects on the American conscience. Many of the great speeches were given by presidents.

Of course, great speeches are important in virtually every job, and this is true in the field of law.

Public speaking: integral part of a lawyer's job

You may never be on TV, and you may never speak in front of a large group of people, but as a lawyer, you will certainly need public speaking skills.

Of course, if you are a trial lawyer, your skills will be necessary in the courtroom. But even if you are not in a courtroom, you will need speaking skills to confer with other lawyers inside and outside your firm, with vendors, bankers and landlords.

Think about speaking to clients. Although you won't be on stage when you speak one-on-one with a client, you will still need excellent speaking skills to convince potential clients to sign with you and existing clients to remain with your firm.

You will need the same skills to convince clients to take a certain course of action and may even need speaking skills to persuade some clients to pay their bills.

You might also speak to a community group as part of your networking efforts, or you might find yourself speaking in front of your bar association.

You also may be speaking on the internet via your website or blog, when many elements of public speaking — such as how to organize a persuasive argument — will matter.


Will the public speaking abilities of Clinton and Trump be the deciding factor in the November election? Probably not, but it will undoubtedly be one of the factors because public speaking is the way in which we get to know the candidates.

For better or worse, public speaking is the way to at least some voters' — and some clients' — hearts.

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