Presentation Skills 101

What are the things that you have to work on in order to get to a place where you are magnetic on stage, where you draw people in, and where you’re able to cultivate either referral relationships or new clients from being in front of people? I have three major strategies for you…

In this episode, we discuss:

  • How amazing your life can be when you learn the skill of being decisive.
  • Creating what you desire when you have a thought that continues to come to your mind.
  • Allowing yourself to feel and think what you desire without judging. 
  • Give yourself permission to speak out loud.
  • Making decisions no matter if they are good or bad those will take you to learn a lesson.
  • Writing it down is a process that solidifies in your mind that you are creating something.
  • Getting the right people could show you what you need to materialize your desires.
  • Trusting your instincts and your inner voice.


Allison Williams: [00:00:05] Hi, everybody. It’s Allison Williams here, your host of The Crushing Chaos with Law Firm Mentor podcast. Law Firm Mentor is a business coaching service for solo and small law firm attorneys. We help you to grow your revenues, crush chaos in business, and make more money.


Allison Williams: [00:00:28] Now, this actually is a topic that came to me from one of our clients here at Law Firm Mentor. We just finished up an amazing weekend at one of our signature retreat programs called Marketing for the Masters. And there one of our clients came up to me and referenced my presentation skills. And she had talked to me about the fact that she was considering investing in a video blogging club and ultimately said, you know, I’m really, I’m really interested in how to use clubs around presentations, whether it’s something like Toastmasters or if it’s in video. It could be something like video socials. How do I use it in order to get better? Because I can tell from having watched an old video of yours earlier on when you had just started Law Firm Mentor to today. How much better you are on video. You were good before. You’re great now. And I said to her that everything in presentation is about practice, right? There’s never going to be a time that no matter how exceptional a public speaker you are, that you cannot and will not get better if you’re doing something hundreds of times, if not thousands of times, over a relatively compressed period.


Allison Williams: [00:01:49] So we talked about that as kind of a general way of improving. But then, of course, she asked the substantive question, which is what do I need to improve upon? What are the things that I have to work on in order to get to a place where I am magnetic on stage, where I am drawing people in, where I’m able to cultivate either referral relationships or new clients from being in front of people. So I wanted to share with you at least three of the strategies I shared with her. We actually went very deep into the weeds, but I wanted to at least give you some, some basic starting points, some of the things that I think are the most critical when it comes time, time to present on stage so that you, too, can start to improve your presentation and get a better outcome when you are on stage. Okay. So the very first thing that you have to do always universally when you are on stage and by the way, stage includes a live stage or a virtual stage, right? So you can be on stage in a Zoom meeting or you can be physically on stage at an in-person event is that you have to make sure to work the room. So what do I mean by that?


Allison Williams: [00:03:02] Well, the first thing is and this is kind of common sense, but, you know, as we all know, common sense, it’s not that common, especially if you’re not somebody who does this on a regular basis, is that you have to gaze around the room and you have to meet people’s eyes. Now there are strategies and little tips and tricks that people can teach you how to, how to appear to be doing this if you’re not somebody that’s comfortable making eye contact. But the reality is eye contact is what draws people in, right? We perceive most of the world our strongest sense is our sense of sight. So it’s really important that people be seeing you and that they be seeing you seeing them. Ok? That is what gets people into the mode of not just feeling like you are paying attention to them, but actually feeling like you are speaking directly to them. Right. The other thing that you want to keep in mind is that you want to be very intentional about responding to facial expressions. So if you see people in the room that are reacting with their expressions as to what you’re saying, whether they are looking confused, or they’re really excited, or they’re pensive, you want to, you want to reference that in what you’re saying, like, oh, I can see that some of you are really, really making thoughtful gestures right now, that you’re really taking some time to absorb the information. Or I can really see there’s a lot of excitement around this topic. Do you guys want to hear more of that? 


Allison Williams: [00:04:31] When people feel that you are not just responding to what they say, if they are at a place where they’re asking a question or maybe commenting on something, you said that they’re actually, that you’re actually interacting with the whole of the person. Right. How they are looking back at you, how they are engaging. What tends to happen is that they feel that they are a part of your presentation, right? So there’s more of an inclination in that scenario to be paying attention and not be playing on one’s phone or surfing social media. But there’s also more of an inclination to actually engage with you, which we’re going to talk about in just a moment.


Allison Williams: [00:05:11] Now, the other thing that you want to do as you’re working the room is you want to call people out, but in a good way. So what I mean by that is when you see that someone appears to have an issue with whatever it is that you are saying, whether they look skeptical. Right. Or maybe they just have a quizzical look. They’re, They’re trying to process what you’re saying. You want to note that like, hi, you know, a gentleman on the third row center in the gray jacket, it seems that you might have some questions about what I’m saying. Am I, am I right in that? Right. Because, again, what you’re teaching people by virtue of calling them out is that you’re engaging them in the presentation. Right. You’re getting them to lean in. Now, by the way, these practical skills that I’m giving you right now are applicable across any type of presentation that you’re going to give, whether you are a lawyer speaking to a roomful of lawyers, or you are the owner of a law firm speaking to a room full of potential referral sources, or you’re a representative of an entity that is speaking to potential clients, right? These are ways that humans transfer information. And transferring information is not just the data, but it’s also the experience. Right? It’s also the site, the sound, the smell, etc. You want people to engage with you the way that you are engaging with them to heighten their experience of you, which tends to increase the likelihood that they will give you a favorable rating as a speaker and that they’ll pay attention and get something out of what you’re saying, including taking action when you give a call to action at the end.


Allison Williams: [00:06:47] All right. The second major presentation strategy that I want to share with you today is that I want you to talk with and not to your audience. Talking with your audience means that you need to have a dialog around the subject matter that you are teaching. 


Allison Williams: [00:07:05] Now before you get nervous. As a lawyer, I can already hear those minds out there kind of spinning and saying, Hey, wait a minute, I’m supposed to be the expert here. I’m going to be sharing tips A, B, and C about my practice area. I don’t necessarily want someone out there disagreeing with me or maybe taking a different perspective or maybe just sharing information that may or may not be on cue. The other thing that you have to be conscious of that I know a lot of lawyers would be would be concerned about, because I definitely have been concerned about it at different points in my career, is that if you allow the audience to engage, you can easily get way off schedule, right? Because there’s always going to be that one person who says, Oh yeah, I experienced this story or this type of issue with Judge So-and-so around this topic. Here’s what happened, and then they start to share with you a long soliloquy about everything that happened in their case. Whether or not they’re sharing privileged information is really not the point here. But they’re sharing so much that you really struggle to shut them up so you can move on without telling them you need to shut them up, right.


Allison Williams: [00:08:13] One of the mistakes I made early on in my career is that I noticed that trend at one speaking engagement that I had, and there was just so much internal frustration around the fact that I couldn’t control the flow of the conversation because as soon as I asked someone, Hey, does anybody have an example of or has anyone else experienced this? And people started raising their hand and saying yes. Then time was just a complete runaway train. I only got to like two-thirds of my presentation. So what I did to get around that is I would say no questions until the end. Hold your questions until the end so people would throw their hands up as I was covering some pretty complex information and they would want to ask questions and I would say, hold your questions until the end and we’ll get to them. Or you can come up and ask me at the break and I would always do it nicely. I wouldn’t say no questions, but people then were passive consumers of my information rather than active participants in my conversation. And you really want the latter.


Allison Williams: [00:09:14] So how do you gain that active participation in a way that doesn’t create a runaway train for time? Well, here are some examples, right? The first thing you want to think about is asking questions in a way that is deliberately tied to the next point you want to make. So, for instance, you might say, have you guys ever experienced blah, blah, blah, or how many of you have had the experience of such and such? Or raise your hand if you’ve ever witnessed blah, blah, blah. Right. You’re asking a question, right? It’s really a yes or no question, but it is a lead-in to your next topic. So have you ever experienced fill in the blank? People are going to say yes to that, but you’re not going to you’re not then going to solicit examples. Or what you might want to do is you might want to leave in time for a few examples and in very strategic places. So where you have a very impactful point you want to make the point. Where you have a point that maybe isn’t as impactful, but an example would be really helpful. You can say, has anyone ever experienced such and such? Allow people to raise their hands, right? And oftentimes, by the way, you want to raise your hand at the same time so that they take the signal that if they have experienced it, that they should be raising their hands. If you don’t directly tell them, hey, raise your hands if you’ve experienced such and such, but you get that out there and then you say, Who’s got an example of that, right? And allow that person to give some very specific information, but give the caveat of, OK, no names, no counties, no judges. Just who was, the, what was the issue X and how did that issue play out in the trial? Right. There are going to be some people that are going to go on and on and on. And at some point you might have to interject by saying their name with a little lift, you know. Hey, Stacey. Right. Which means, of course, you have to know the person to whom you’re speaking. And if somebody wants to volunteer before you allow them to, you want to ask them your name and law firm, sir, so that you can prompt them with their name when it’s time to interject. So you can move on.


Allison Williams: [00:11:28] All right, third and final strategy in our presentation skills overview is you want to vary your cadence to make your point. So this is really important. I remember very long ago feels like it was forever ago, but I still remember the day like it was yesterday. I actually still remember the suit I was wearing on this day. I was at a law firm. I was a pretty sizable law firm. We had at that time about 46 attorneys and well over 100 staff. And I remember that the associates were required to participate in this thing called trial school.


Allison Williams: [00:12:02] There was a mock trial courtroom set up in our law firm, and the associates were required to come. And we went through various different exercises just like you would at NIDA conference. NIDA is the National Institute of Trial Advocacy. So if you went to one of their programs, this is a similar exercise to what you would do. So on this particular day, we were told to give a direct, pardon me, we were told to give an opening statement and everyone had a chance. Right? It was a particular day we were assigned. I think three of us actually had opening statements that day. And then the elders in the law firm, the partners, and some counsel were required to critique us as well as the other associates in the law firm. So you can imagine what that feels like. You’re performing your job in front of every person that you work for, both your peers, as well as your superiors. And, you know, the feedback wasn’t always that great, depending on who you were and how your presentation went. But nevertheless, it really grew us into fine tuning our skills and getting a lot better. So I gave my opening statement and I remember everyone had the same feedback. They said, Wow, that was really good, except you talk really fast, right? I have been told, by the way, that I talk really fast since I was a kid.


Allison Williams: [00:13:27] Even at times where I feel like I am talking at the speed of molasses, people will say, You’re talking so fast. In fact, I’m in a video blogging club. I mentioned it just earlier today, video socials. And any time that I go to a group that’s not my home group, the feedback among whomever is in the room is going to be at least one person who says, Wow, that was great, except it was really fast. You need to slow it down. And to some degree, I am open to that feedback at this point in my career, but to some degree, I’ve decided this is who I am, right? The people that are for me will get it. The people that are not for me. I can only change myself so much, right? So you have to make that decision for yourself. But in terms of this particular piece of feedback that came into our school, it was really valuable. So it wasn’t that I needed to slow down, right? Everyone kept saying, Next person, you’re great. You just need to slow down. Great! You need to slow down. Great! You need to slow down. But the managing partner of my law firm, who I was most afraid to get feedback for, he just kind of sat and looked at me very pensively before he spoke. And I thought, Oh my God, my boss is about to rip me a new one and this is going to be awful. And he actually gave me quite a bit of praise and it was probably one of the highlights of my career up to that point because I had such high esteem for him as a trial lawyer. But he said to me, You know, I disagree with everyone that you, that you speak too fast. You do talk fast. But that’s how you talk. What I think needs to happen, however, is that you need to vary your cadence. You need to vary the speed with which you deliver the impact points. So he asked me to look through the first couple of pages of notes that I had, and he said, What’s the first major point that you were talking about? And I summarized it for him, and he said, Okay, now I want you to stand up, read, deliver that to me. But when you say X, I want you to stop. And then turn your body. Open up both hands. And as you say, the next thing, bring your hands down. So I said, okay, I can do that. I think I got it right. Get to the point like kind of lift your voice a little bit. Stop. Let that let the silence linger in the air for a moment. Turn your body and open both hands. Throw them up in the air and then pound them down. As you say, the next thing. And I did that and wow, what a difference it made. I remember just as I was going through the experience of doing it over again and I was the only lawyer on that particular date that was asked to repeat an experience that I was actually excited to repeat it because I was getting live coaching in the moment that I was doing something as to how to do it better, right? So of course now I am a business coach, so of course, I believe in the power of coaching. But this is when I was a much younger attorney. I was probably the second year into my time at that law firm, so maybe my third year in practice. So it was somewhat jarring to me how immediate the result was that I was told to take an action with my voice, do something with my body, and then make a gesture with my hands around my words in order to vary the cadence and in order to make a point. So that is actually the third presentation skill that I want to give to you, that when you use your body and your voice and your, your tone, your pace, your pitch, that in and of itself is its own communication. But it also is a highlight to the communication, the words that you’re sharing in a given moment. So that is one of the things that I have learned to do and one of the things that I practice quite assiduously even now, right even now when I know I’m going to be on stage, whether it’s in stage in front of my clients, or in stage in front of an audience, I actually will kind of in my mind riff a little bit on what I’m going to talk about.


Allison Williams: [00:17:36] And one of the things that I know has to come out of what I’m going to talk about is that impactful use of my voice and body and my hands in order to make a really strong point to make sure that I don’t just go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go. And don’t stop.


Allison Williams: [00:17:53] All right, everyone, you’ve been listening to The Crushing Chaos with Law Firm Mentor. I’m Allison Williams, Your Law Firm Mentor and I will see you on our next episode.


Allison Williams: [00:18:11] Thank you for tuning in to the Crushing Chaos with Law Firm Mentor podcast. To learn more about today’s show and take advantage of the resources mentioned, check out our show notes. And if you enjoy today’s episode, take a moment to follow the podcast wherever you get your podcasts and leave us a rating and review. This helps us to reach even more law firm owners from around the country who want to crush chaos in business and make more money. I’m Allison Williams, your Law Firm Mentor, everyone. Have a great day.


Allison Bio:
Allison C. Williams, Esq., is the Founder and Owner of the Williams Law Group, LLC, with offices in Short Hills and Freehold, New Jersey. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, is Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Law Attorney, and is the first attorney in New Jersey to become Board-Certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy in the field of Family Law.

Ms. Williams is an accomplished businesswoman. In 2017, the Williams Law Group won the LawFirm500 award, ranking 14th of the fastest-growing law firms in the nation, as Ms. Williams grew the firm by 581% in three years. Ms. Williams won the Silver Stevie Award for Female Entrepreneur of the Year in 2017. In 2018, Ms. Williams was voted as NJBIZ’s Top 50 Women in Business and was designated one of the Top 25 Leading Women Entrepreneurs and Business Owners. In 2019, Ms. Williams won the Seminole 100 Award for founding one of the fastest-growing companies among graduates of Florida State University.


In 2018, Ms. Williams created Law Firm Mentor, a business coaching service for lawyers. She helps solo and small law firm attorneys grow their business revenues, crush chaos in business and make more money. Through multi-day intensive business retreats, group and one-to-one coaching, and strategic planning sessions, Ms. Williams advises lawyers on all aspects of creating, sustaining, and scaling a law firm business – and specifically, she teaches them the core foundational principles of marketing, sales, personnel management, communications, and money management in law firms.


Contact Info:


My favorite excerpt from the episode:

TIME: 00:07:09 (33 Seconds) 

But because I didn’t have society’s definition of a family, I didn’t feel entitled to a house. So honestly, I was kind of waiting for me to just magically arrive at a family and there’s a whole host of reasons why that’s not happening, either, which we’re not going to talk about today. But I said, finally, you know, I can’t delay making the best financial decision for myself because I don’t have the appearance of the family that society says I’m supposed to have in order to buy my house. So I just went out and said, Yeah, now’s the time, and I decided what I wanted and I ultimately bought a house.