Speak Up: Tips for lawyers on how to give an impactful public speech
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If you want to give a good speech that will resonate with people, you should not use notes or an outline, says Gerard Gregoire, vice president of litigation services for the West region at Allstate.
Instead, he says, know what you want to say forward and backward—much like you would a case file before trial—and practice on your own, so that you know the information so well you don’t have to rely on notes as a reminder.
And in your practice, think about when you want to pause, make eye contact and consider the speed at which you’re speaking. If you tend to be someone who talks fast, he says, tell the audience, noting that you have so much passion about the topic, you are speaking fast to make sure they find out what they have to know.
Gregoire says when he switched from trying cases to serving as in-house lawyer with Allstate, he found that speaking to a business audience is different than being in front of judges and juries.
That being said, he says lawyers who want more public speaking opportunities don’t have to wait for court time, which can be hard to get. But there are many opportunities to speak in front of an audience, and it helps if it’s with a group you really care about, so that your speaking is genuine.
Being genuine, he says, is key to being a good speaker because it gets you connected with your audience, and they won’t listen to what you have to say unless you come across as being authentic.
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Gerard Gregoire, vice president of litigation services for the West region at Allstate, has worked for the company for 19 years. He began his career as a prosecutor in Dallas County in 1998. Gregoire is a member of the Texas Bar Association, the Washington State Bar Association, the Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel, the Torts Insurance Practice Section of the American Bar Association, and the Washington Defense Trial Lawyers Association. He received his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Houston and his JD from the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University.