You’re a lawyer who’s accepted an invitation to speak and the speech is ready to go. It’s now show time. Are you are ready to reap the benefits?

The primary benefit of any speaking engagement is not the speech itself. Rather, it is the opportunity to interact in person with members of a select audience of clients, potential clients and referral sources.

A lawyer/speaker who arrives at the venue at the last minute, reads through a speech without pausing for audience involvement, and then rushes from the room to the next appointment is making a huge mistake. Speaking engagements offer valuable opportunities for personal interaction before, during and after the actual speech.

A few days before your speech, try to obtain a list of attendees. Review this list and target individuals you would especially like to meet or greet. Do some research on them.

Before the speech

Don’t spend your time reviewing your notes for the umpteenth time. Instead, stand near the entrance and introduce yourself to those entering the room. Alternatively, circulate through the room thanking audience members for coming and asking them to tell you a little bit about their work.

After a minute or two, excuse yourself and greet someone else. Act like the host at your own party. This tactic falls within almost anyone’s comfort zone.

During your speech

Invite questions from the audience. Questions break up the monotony and change the pace of even the best prepared speeches. Your answers to questions demonstrate the breadth of your knowledge and expertise beyond your prepared notes and slides. Very specific questions allow you to invite the questioner to chat with you about their problem during a break or after the presentation.

After your speech

Stay in the room or the hallway outside the room to hand out cards, answer additional questions and even make appointments with prospects. Leaving the venue right after a speech — even to pick up your child from day care — is an egregious act of marketing malpractice. Schedule your day accordingly.

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