Tag Archives: Public Speaking

Leveraging Your Reputation: Don’t pull a bait and switch

Tom Ciesielka is President of TC Public Relations (www.tcpr.net). Tom has over 25 years of marketing and public relations experience, working with individual lawyers and midsize law firms. He is also a former board member of the Legal Marketing Association in Chicago and has spoken at Chicago Bar Associations CLE programs. Reach him at tc@tcpr.net.

I recently attended a meeting at one of the professional associations I belong to, and I couldn’t believe what I saw: a speaker that pulled a bait-and-switch. I’m not talking about products at a retail store but about a speaker who says that he is going to talk about a certain topic but ends up using the speaking opportunity to sell his services. I was surprised that he ended up being the main speaker, since he was chosen out of about 100 people who submitted applications. What he did was devious, and hopefully no one walked out of there with any intention of hiring him.

That speaker reminded me, and perhaps others at the meeting, about what to avoid when we’re chosen or asked to speak. Not only do we have to think about what image we’re presenting to others, but we also have to pay attention to what we’re actually saying. To avoid being so blatantly self-serving, here are a few tips you should remember in case you’re tempted to use a public platform for your own gain:

1 – Deliver what you promise. If an organization or other professional group asks what you are going to speak about, then put it in writing and be willing to submit an outline if they ask for one. Then stick to the plan. It sounds obvious, but sometimes people will forfeit their integrity because they’re desperate to get more work. Don’t give into the temptation, and remain professional.

2 – Respect your audience. The speaker I saw probably assumed we were naïve or ignorant. He definitely underestimated us, so his presentation seemed condescending and even annoying, since we were there to get helpful information, not a sales pitch. Chances are that the audiences you speak to are going to be sophisticated, well-educated and experienced. Even if they end up not being as savvy as you think they are, you should walk in there being open to what they have to offer. Remember that even just one search on the internet can yield vast amounts of information, and in our information-saturated culture, the average person is well-informed.

3 – Be accountable. Talk to someone in your firm or another person you trust about your speech and show him or her your outline, or practice your speech in front of others so that you can get constructive feedback. You might not realize if some parts of your presentation make you sound like a salesman, so a second pair of eyes and ears will help you make any adjustments.

If you or your co-worker is tempted to turn a speaking event into a commercial to acquire more clients, stop and think about the long-term impact of such a decision. Even if it doesn’t affect your firm right away, there’s a good chance it will affect at least your own reputation.

Leveraging Your Reputation: Speak to boost your publicity

Tom Ciesielka is President of TC Public Relations (www.tcpr.net). Tom has over 25 years of marketing and public relations experience, working with individual lawyers and midsize law firms. He is also a former board member of the Legal Marketing Association in Chicago and has spoken at Chicago Bar Associations CLE programs. Reach him at tc@tcpr.net.

One of the best ways to help your reputation, exposure, and professional pursuits is through public speaking. You don’t have to speak to thousands of people at a time; you can start small, and maybe one day you will be requested for huge conferences. You never know who is in the audience and where it can lead.

Here are some tips to get you started:

Focus. Decide what area or topic you want to focus on and develop a niche. If you’re finding it hard to whittle down your expertise, then write down what you have proven success in and what extensive knowledge you have. See if you can organize that information into bullet points that you can share with others, and develop a plan to talk about it. You can also write it all out as an essay to see if you have enough to say that will help other people.

Look for opportunities. There are many places to speak, and you don’t have to travel far. If you’re part of an organization, ask them if you can speak at an upcoming meeting, or develop your own seminar and offer it for free to members. If you are attending a conference, approach the organizers and ask them if you can speak at the next one.

See what’s available in your community. Speak at your local Chamber of Commerce or other community organizations. If you have children, see if you can speak at their school on career day or as a part of a lesson plan that is connected to your area of expertise. Your local library often looks for programs to offer the community, so approach them to see if they would be interested.

Teach. If you’re rusty at speaking, or find it overwhelming to come up with a plan for a bunch of strangers, teach a course at a community college or other educational institution. This will help you understand what motivates and interests people, and how you should structure your delivery. If creating a class is too time consuming and labor intensive, you can be a guest speaker in someone else’s class.

Connect online. If you are on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or even have an active e-mail group, find out about events at which you can speak. You may end up doing a short presentation, but it could lead to more extensive opportunities.

Whomever you approach, be sure to have your basic plan and idea pitch ready, in addition to explaining why you are an expert in that area. And be prepared for people’s questions, even after the presentation. Make yourself available to others by offering them your email address or other contact information at your website or social media outlet so that you can keep those connections going.

Leveraging your Reputation: Get involved

Tom Ciesielka is President of TC Public Relations (www.tcpr.net). Tom has over 25 years of marketing and public relations experience, working with individual lawyers and midsize law firms. He is also a former board member of the Legal Marketing Association in Chicago and has spoken at Chicago Bar Associations CLE programs. Reach him at tc@tcpr.net.

Some people tend to think of work as separate from their hobbies and interests, but you can actually help your reputation through the activities that you get involved in outside of work. If you know what you love to do and are active in organizations and groups, then you can benefit from participating in your community. It won’t seem like you’re working because you’re enjoying what you’re doing, but you could see some positive results in your own professional life.

Here are a few ways to follow your passion and help your reputation:

1 – Speak. If you’re part of an organization in your community, or are involved in your kids’ schools and extra-curricular activities, offer to give a speech or an informal talk that will help people improve their own lives. By offering to speak to a group, you’ll become a kind of community expert ready with helpful tips. And you never know who you’ll meet: a potential client or even someone from the media. There are a number of freelance writers who are looking for experts and sources for their stories, and they could be one of the parents at the next soccer game that you go to.

2 – Join. If you know what you’re interested in, whether it’s a sport, language, cultural topic, handicraft, music, or whatever, there’s a group or class out there that you can join. It gets you away from the stress of work and other responsibilities, but it’s also a great way to meet other people while you’re pursuing what you’re interested in. You never know who you’ll meet, and who they know.

3 – Tell others. When you get involved in a fundraising walk or a project that helps disadvantaged people, tell others about it in your blog, on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or wherever you communicate with people online. It’s not about boasting, but about letting people know that you’re excited about helping others. Such volunteer activities let your clients and colleagues know that you’re multi-dimensional, that you’re not just about work. So helping others is not just good for the community, but for your reputation as well.

What’s important to remember is to not be pushy or try to aggressively market yourself to others who you meet outside of work. Just enjoy yourself and be open to meeting others, and you’ll make new contacts naturally. And remember to have your business cards handy, just in case.

Leveraging Your Reputation: Get active

Tom Ciesielka is President of TC Public Relations (www.tcpr.net). Tom has over 25 years of marketing and public relations experience, working with individual lawyers and midsize law firms. He is also a former board member of the Legal Marketing Association in Chicago and has spoken at Chicago Bar Associations CLE programs. Reach him at tc@tcpr.net.

Even though you’re busy, you should take advantage of opportunities where you can actively find new clients, instead of waiting passively for someone to request your services.

The following are three ways to proudly represent your firm:

Make a Speech

Speaking engagements are multifold in terms of the benefits you receive from them. First, when you are a speaker at an event or conference, you are revered as the expert. People will look to you as the most knowledgeable on the topic about which you are speaking. You will also have the opportunity to directly interact with potential clients. Being friendly and responsive to questions and comments will demonstrate that you care, which never fails to resonate with people.

Participate in the Community

Nowadays, the world wants to know how you are helping others and contributing to worthy causes. By connecting with members of the community, you give your firm a great reputation. Some firms create a team that participates in charity walks, which is great exposure for a firm’s name. It also is a good way to improve internal public relations, which helps establish external public relations as well.

Put Your Face (and Voice) on the Web

Offer options to your website visitors; they may respond more favorably to video or audio rather than just text. If you decide to include video or audio on your website, do not have it play as soon the page is opened. Rather, give visitors the option of clicking on it to hear your message.

When you think about who your firm is and what it does, you need to think about what you know, offer, understand, supply, or do better than anyone else. So actively seek out clients and opportunities, and more meaningful connections will be made.

Watch your mouth

Tom Ciesielka is President of TC Public Relations (www.tcpr.net). Tom has over 25 years of marketing and public relations experience, working with individual lawyers and mid-sized law firms. He is also a former board member of the Legal Marketing Association in Chicago and has spoken at Chicago Bar Associations CLE programs.  Reach him at tc@tcpr.net.

Every lawyer knows words are a powerful tool. Words have the power to persuade, dissuade, convince and influence. However, sometimes words can have a negative effect and make waves in a firm’s or attorney’s public relations pool. Consider the following to help keep the pool water smooth as glass.

Cut the fat

Using too many words can sometimes be detrimental to your message and to your audience’s attention span. The trick to being remembered is to make it short, relevant and clear, which is difficult yet necessary when explaining complicated legal cases to the media. Throw out the excess wordy garbage and stick to a basic explanation that everyone will understand. It sometimes helps to think “headlines.” Headlines are attention grabbers, so think of a one-liner that accurately conveys your message and keep it simple.

Just say no to “no comment”

“No comment” is a dangerous phrase. It gives the media and the public room to make what can be negative assumptions about why you have no comment. You don’t want the public to speculate more than they already do, so always be prepared with a short comment at the very least, even if it’s just acknowledging recent developments or events. This enables you to comment without actually commenting at all. Think of it this way: you wouldn’t say “no comment” to a judge or jury, so don’t say it to the media.

Talk the talk

Public speaking truly is a skill. Some lawyers are born with a natural ability and others must work hard to hone this skill. However, whether you’re a smooth operator or still trip over your words sometimes, always look for opportunities to practice preaching. Speaking at events and seminars or participating in panel discussions will establish you as an expert and improve your ability to use words effectively. Speaking in public is no exception to the phrase “practice makes perfect.”

Working toward your wish list

Tom Ciesielka is President of TC Public Relations (www.tcpr.net). Tom has over 25 years of marketing and public relations experience, working with individual lawyers and mid-sized law firms. He is also a former board member of the Legal Marketing Association in Chicago and has spoken at Chicago Bar Associations CLE programs.  Reach him at tc@tcpr.net.

At our agency, we like to give people what they want. When we first meet with a new client, we ask them what their “wish list” is because we want to know which specific media outlets they want to see themselves in. “Oprah” is usually a given. And as much as we would love to give “Oprah” to our clients, with a big, red bow on her head, we always have other outlets in mind that can help us work our way toward those “wish list” media outlets. As they say, shoot for the moon; even if you don’t make it, you’ll still land among the stars.

Morning Radio? If you’re dying to be on a morning radio show, we suggest that you get some practice. Radio producers and hosts want to interview people who know how to be interviewed, so the more you’ve done, the better. BlogTalkRadio is a site that serves as a platform for various talk radio programs covering a wide variety of categories; books, law and culture to name a few. Being interviewed on one of these programs and the subsequent podcasts is great because 1) it gives you practice that can be added to your interview resume, 2) it is great online exposure and 3) the interview can be downloaded and circulated to other media. Think of it as the bait to catch the big fish.

Law Publications? If you’re just aching to be featured in a prominent legal publication, try saturating the legal blog world first. Not many people realize this, but reporters and editors read blogs to get ideas for their articles and stories. You can saturate in two ways: 1) Start your own legal blog. Find your niche and stick with it, offering quality advice and unique commentary. 2) Connect with other legal blogs and ask if they’d be interested in featuring your take on legal best practices or doing a Q&A or even a guest blog post. Being featured in a prominent legal blog gives legal publications a reason to come looking for you.

Television? Do you dream of a slot on primetime television? This may be a sign that you need to be more active on YouTube. We’ve all heard the stories: YouTube sensations, videos hitting the million-views mark in one day, going viral, viral, viral. But you don’t need to have a million views for your YouTube video to be a successful tool. Perhaps it is a legal tip of the week. Or footage of your most recent speaking engagement. Or maybe you stage a mock interview a couple employees. Get creative, get in front of a camera and prepare for primetime.