Presentation skills are a must-have for lawyers. There are a wide variety of techniques that lawyers can use to improve their presentations, whether to a group in an interview or at work. The audio can be converted into written documents using an online transcription service, which is essential to ensure that the content or message is preserved correctly. While most legal professionals are good at public speaking, experts say that there’s a big difference between just speaking and really communicating.
Today, lawyers are presenting in virtual courtrooms and new skills are required to succeed in this medium. A JD Supra article discussed practical tips on how lawyers can improve their virtual presentation skills which were shared by communications and trial presentation consultants in a conference on virtual trials held by the National Institute for Trial Advocacy. These views and others are summarized below:
- Look Directly into the Camera: When giving in-person presentations, speakers are advised to look directly at the audience. However, a points out that using this technique can make an online presenter look “furtive and distracted”. To avoid this, look directly into your computer’s camera and not the screen or at the audience. This will make people think you are looking at them. Ensure that the camera is at eye level. You can turn off self-view so that you are not distracted by the video of yourself, while allowing other participants to see you. The technique of looking into the computer’s camera lens can be perfected with practice.
- Position Yourself Correctly: When presenting online, practice your positioning and distance from the camera. See how much of yourself is visible and what the background looks like. If your hands are visible, pay attention to what you do with them. Whether you rely on natural lighting, side lighting or overhead lights make sure your face is well lit. Knowing how you look on camera and improving on it can build confidence when you’re new to the technique.
- Be Mindful of Body Language: Hand gestures can be a powerful tool for lawyers in the courtroom when used correctly. However, physical gestures may look awkward and fail to have the desired impact in a virtual presentation. Pay attention to body language and physical gestures when presenting online. Attorneys should make visible gestures on-screen only when they want to make a point, notes Carol Sowers, a communications consultant and former broadcaster from New York (www.jdsupra.com). Sowers says that effective gestures are those that are purposeful, match the speaker’s words and connect with the audience. Best practice is to keep gestures below the screen and out-of-sight.
- Build Skills with Practice: Presenting online can be really challenging if you haven’t done it before. The goal should be to appear trustworthy and credible, and the key to success is practice. Lawyers need to familiarize themselves with making presentations to a camera and test themselves. Prepare your presentation in advance so that you have time to rehearse it. Record the session, watch it, and repeat till you perfect your presentation skills. It’s important to practice with the same technology and materials that will be used in the virtual courtroom. Make sure you master the technology that will be used during the trial.
- Be Transparent about your Actions: If you want to look at your notes or read out from a prepared text, Sowers recommends telling your audience about it. If you are not transparent about your actions, viewers may get the wrong impression.
- Know how to use PowerPoint Presentations and other Visual Aids: Experts recommend judicious use of PowerPoint presentations in virtual trials and hearings. Prepare visual material with a clear goal in mind and make every slide count. Lawyers need to ensure that the visual images or slides do not take attention away from what they are saying, especially when they are making an opening or closing argument. It’s not necessary to rely on slides when speaking to an online audience.
- When it comes to faster Internet speed, a direct, wired connection to the network router is a better option than a Wi-Fi connection.
- Make sure that the trial exhibits can be viewed properly online by jurors.
- Have backup technology ready so that there is no interruption to the presentation if the main device fails.
- Dress appropriately and stand up. Just as in an in-person presentation, decorum and appearances matter when making a virtual presentation. Dress appropriately and stand up to create a good impression.
Whether they are presenting virtually or otherwise, lawyers should hone their presentation skills to convey their message effectively. Transcription outsourcing companies that specialize in presentations transcription for lawyers can ensure that the proceedings are properly documented for review and reference.