Want to give a good Presentation? Do Not Write out your Script!


– It never ceases to
amaze me just how many lawyers continue to give presentations where they have written
out every single word, and they bury their head in the paper, and just read their presentation, right from start to finish. My name’s Chris Hargreaves, I’m from tipsforlawyers.com and today I’m going to tell you why lawyers should not
write out their scripts when they’re giving presentations. And I’ve got three main reasons that we’re going to go through. The first and probably
most fundamental reason that you should not write out your script when you’re giving a presentation is because you’re giving the presentation. It’s a presentation. It’s not an academic paper, it’s not a play that you get to read from. It is a presentation. You are presenting, you are an individual, you are a human, you are trying to get some sort of personal connection. If you could do it just by emailing an academic paper to people, then why didn’t do that? Because you’re just wasting
your time by being there if all you’re going to
do is read from a script. You are the presenter so present, don’t read from the script. The second reason you shouldn’t be writing out your
script when you’re giving any sort of legal presentation is because you are going to get interrupted. Things are going to happen. People are going to ask questions, hopefully, if you’ve got engaging content. Things are going to occur
that are going to get in your way of your script. And if you have to look up from having buried your head in a piece of paper because someone asks a questions, and then you spend another
two or three minutes going “Oh, hang on, I don’t know where I up to. “I’ll just have to find my spot,” then you look like a fool. And rightly so because you we’re foolish to write your script out in its entirety for your presentation. Whereas if you know your presentation, if you know what you’re going to say, if you have outlined it, if you just have a few
notes that you can refer to, there is far less chance that
you are going to get lost in the middle of giving your presentation if someone interrupts you
or there’s a power outage or the air conditioning
goes off or someone spills a glass wine on the person
next to them, just funk. Whatever it is, there are
interruptions in presentations, and there should be. You should be getting an
engagement from your audience. And if you’re going to encourage
that kind of engagement, then you cannot be referring
constantly to your notes because you’re going to have to look up, look at people, get their
attention, keep them engaged, otherwise they are going to fall asleep. You won’t get the kinds of interruptions you’re hoping to get, and the opportunity to
demonstrate your expertise. And the third and final
reason why no lawyer should be writing out an entire script for their presentation: you’re supposed to be an expert. Now if I said to you that I was an expert in giving presentations, and then I came up and give a presentation that I simply read word for word, would you think I was an expert? Because how much expertise
does it really take to read something out? Do I even have the
knowledge at my disposal? Do I even know what I’m talking about? If I know what I’m talking about, why did I have to write it all down on a piece of paper beforehand, and then sit there reading it out to you in a script? Hmm, good question, right? If I’m an expert, surely
I have this information at my disposal, and all I need is some
form of way of guiding me through my presentation so I don’t ramble. That is very different
to writing out a script. If you can get the headlines,
if you can the headings, if you can get the subheadings, and you organize and orchestrate your talk so that your inner expertise
of the actual subject matter can come out, that is by far the better way. Because if you’ve written a script because you don’t know
what you’re talking about, then get off the stage. Because if you are trying to develop your perception as an expertise in the audience’s minds, nothing will destroy it more
than you actually not knowing anything about what you’re talking about. And you’ve just had to do some research and write it all down on paper and then actually just read it out. I mean, what does that
do for your audience perception of you? Would you think I was an expert if I was reading out this entire thing with a piece of paper in front of me? No. And so I’ve gone to the
effort to understand the subject matter, I’ve gone to the effort of knowing basically in advance what I want to say, and I’ve gone to the effort
of looking at the camera the entire time. I haven’t looked down at my notes, I haven’t looked down at a script that I’m reading out, I haven’t got a teleprompter up here somewhere above the
thing that I’m actually reading from, no. I know the subject matter, and as a result, I can be nimble. If you weren’t someone at
the other end of a camera, I could respond to your
questions on the spot, and I could dance with the audience and react to things
that people were saying, and react to questions, and move on from subjects
if I thought that they were boring people, and focus on things if
I thought people were really interested in them. That is how giving a
live presentation works. Your audience is there to help you give a better presentation, but they’re also there because you want to convince them you’re an expert. Doesn’t matter why you’re there, if they’re you’re colleagues, then you want them to refer work to you, and you want to give them the confidence that if they do refer work to you, then they’re doing so to someone who knows what they’re talking about. If it’s your clients, you want them to send you paying work. How many dollars an hour do you cost? If you’re 200, 300, 400,
500 dollars an hour, and you have to read a presentation on your practice area from paper, how much confidence does
that actually inspire in the people who you
want to send you work? Zero, nothing, nada. Do not write your scripts out. So just to recap, three compelling reasons why you should not be
writing a script out. The first: you are a
presenter, so present. If it’s something you could
simply write down and circulate, then do that. Do it as an article, but don’t waste people’s
time by pretending that it’s a presentation. The second: it’s going
to involve distractions. If you’re giving a live presentation, a swan falls on your head, someone punches the person next to them
in the face because they said something insulting, someone asks a questions, which is probably the more
likely out of the three, you’re going to get interrupted, and if you don’t have a script, you don’t have anything
to get interrupted from. You just know your subject
matter well enough. And that leads into number three and probably the most important which is: if you’re giving a presentation, it’s an opportunity for you
to demonstrate your expertise. And if you are reading it
out in full from a script, there is no expertise in that. If I’m a client, I’m not
going to send you work in that category, because you clearly don’t
know the subject well enough. If you knew the subject well enough, you’d be able to talk to it. That’s why you shouldn’t
be writing out a script. Now I know for some people this is going to involve some more work, and I’m not saying that
it doesn’t involve work to prepare a presentation and not have a script to read from, but it’s worth the effort. The impact of a presentation
without a script is significantly greater
than one with a script. So can I encourage you, if you’re giving your
next legal presentation, if you’re giving a legal seminar, take your script, if you have it, throw it in the bin, do something better. Become an expert in the subject matter. Be persuasive, order your presentation, don’t write out a script. That’s all had to talk about today. Until next time, happy lawyering.

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