It took me a while to embrace public speaking and present clear actionable information to my clients. Nonetheless, I knew from the beginning that I needed to master a suite of communication skills to consistently deliver value to my audiences and my clients alike.
But it begs the question(s):
How is your attorney communicating with you? After a meeting or a call, do you walk away with clarity and confidence? Can they explain a tough concept to you in simple terms? If not, they may not have mastered the concept or the art of communication.
(Great) Communication Doesn’t Always Come Easy
I get it. I was a shy kid growing up. A nervous wreck when talking to girls and dreaded public speaking. So when I now speak to a room full of 20, 50, or 200 doctors, I occasionally have an out-of-body experience. Even when engaging with clients, I now feel like I’m consistently operating within my wheelhouse.
How the heck did I go from that shy kid to this guy?
Here’s what I’ve learned:
Crave the personal growth that comes with overcoming fear.
A lot of good things happen through discomfort. I wasn’t satisfied being a wallflower anymore. I knew that learning how to speak in public would help me professionally. And it was. Like most things worth pursuing, I had to want it more than fear it.
With clients, it wasn’t enough to just show up. I made sure I showed up for my clients with a plan. Fear comes with doubt and indecision, so I squashed this by being well-prepared and thoroughly versed in the details of the deal.
I learned not to be afraid of the pains of growth. As with building muscles, the soreness always passes and gets replaced by a new, stronger layer to form a new foundation.
Getting comfortable in my own skin.
There’s a correlation between how comfortable I am with myself and how comfortable I am with putting myself out there. I grew to accept myself for who I was and became a much better communicator as a result.
The relationships I’ve formed from public speaking engagements have been invaluable. With clients, I’ve earned a reputation for delivering info with equal parts zeal and precision. By being confident in my own skin, I’ve set myself up for success and can help more people than ever before.
Practice. And practice again.
It’s all about putting in the reps to become great at anything. For example, I practice casual conversations when I prepare for public speaking. I chat up a few people in the first row before I give any talk. It’s like a lay-up drill before tip-off. It’s a great way to warm up and calm the nerves.
Also, I start with a story, any story. My story. Telling a story helps me connect with the room. It makes me more human and relatable. I’ll talk about my family, my dog, the list goes on. People have an easier time listening to people they can relate to.
With clients, I review notes from prior conversations, put together agendas for my meetings, and practice main talking points by writing them down and speaking them aloud. Once again, practice is key. Practice manifests professionalism and confident delivery of information.
Spotting Spotty Communication
By sharing my journey, I hope to help you develop an eye for effective communication. When choosing an attorney, gauge how clear and simple they can explain difficult concepts to you.
If they can’t, perhaps they’re unclear themselves or don’t have enough experience or practice.
Alternatively, they may be an ineffective communicator. Worse yet, they may be trying to pull the wool over your eyes. Use this as a marker when hiring counsel.
Their ability to communicate effectively is as important as what they know. It’s a barometer of their ability to counsel you through a transaction, so you can easily digest options and make the best decisions for your deal. It’s also a marker of their ability to negotiate your positions with opposing counsel effectively.
Skilled communication is never overrated and should never be compromised.