Mason Hayes Solicitors

June 2014

The topic of my blog this month is public speaking.  Strong communication skills are a must for a solicitor and public speaking is becoming increasingly important.  Whilst it is true that there is a distinction between solicitors and barristers, solicitors do have rights of audience in the lower Courts and can also obtain higher rights of audience in High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court.

A client may well prefer a solicitor to represent them at Court as you would be more familiar with the case than a barrister who in all likelihood would be instructed shortly before the hearing.  It may also be more cost effective.

As part of my training contract I will of course be required to undertake advocacy.  In preparing for that and in developing my public speaking, I have been given the opportunity to give lectures and seminars at the University of Sussex and for our clients.  This has provided me with the opportunity to practice public speaking and has given me greater confidence.

Before giving my first lecture I was convinced that I needed detailed notes to follow, and the thought of speaking without them was quite frankly frightening.  However, mid-way through the first lecture I realised that I was actually speaking without reference to those detailed notes that I thought I could not do without.  I realised that in fact it was easier to speak around the topic headings on the Powerpoint slides – a thought that had previously terrified me.  It also stopped me from saying “ermm” every other word as I was speaking naturally rather than attempting to say word for word what was in my notes.

Since my first time speaking in public, I do not prepare detailed notes but simply outline the key points.  Of course every time I prepare thoroughly in terms of the content of my lecture or speech and therefore the key points are simply to ensure that I do not forget anything.  If you are well prepared then strictly speaking you probably do not require any notes.  This, I admit, I have yet to try!

Knowing the content of your presentation enables you when presenting to focus on the delivery.  You can focus on engaging with your audience by making eye contact with people and involving them in your presentation.   It enables you to move freely around the room, be more animated and less rigid than if you were stood still clinging to your notes for dear life.  The manner then in which you speak, your expressions, gestures and movements appear confident, natural and relaxed.  The delivery of the speech will also be clearer and more conversational.   It is then easier for your audience to follow your presentation and remain engaged.

So here are my 6 top tips for public speaking:

  1. Know your material
  2. Practice, Practice Practice
  3. Relax!
  4. Engage with the audience and try to encourage interaction
  5. Know your audience
  6. Look the part

Finally, a joke or funny story won’t hurt.  That is of course presuming it is funny, relevant and appropriate in the circumstances!

Until my next blog


Twitter Facebook

Mason Hayes Limited is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority under registration number 537318. The professional rules relating to our services can be accessed on the Solicitors Regulation Authority website at Mason Hayes Solicitors and Mason Hayes are trading styles of Mason Hayes Limited which is a company registered in England and Wales under company number: 3401175. Our registered office is Siviter House, No 1 The Grange, Altrincham Road, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5ND. Our VAT number is 803 032 486. All rights reserved. Terms & Conditions. Privacy Policy
Mason Hayes