This past week I spoke at a State Bar convention. I had a great audience (with a few of the usual exceptions, to be blogged about next), and I had fun giving the presentation.
I presented a shortened version of one of my attorney speaking seminars “Improving your Public Speaking Skills.” The host of the event invited my company to exhibit in exchange for my presentation, which was great because I (and my staff) stayed for a great deal longer than usual and we had much more interaction with the event attendees as well.
While walking around the exhibit hall for 2.5 days I chatted up a bunch of the attendees. And, unfortunately, the consensus was that the vast majority of speakers at the annual convention needed public speaking training – before they presented their CLEs to the bar attendees.
I know this is a pretty common issue, since I used to be a practicing attorney and I know how bad CLE programs can get. Additionally, my company puts on 60 – 70 CLE ligitation skills training programs per year; so I even know that some speakers are resistant to public speaking training and suggestions for improvement.
What I don’t understand is why bar associations don’t make the investment and offer training programs, or DVDs, to the attorneys who are going to speak at the bar’s annual event. It’s a small investment compared to the event budget and income and the rewards always outweigh the cost.
I understand that not all of the speakers will take you up on your offered training, but enough of them will to make a difference and to cut down on attendees’ dissapointment and complaints.
Not surprisingly several attendees told me they weren’t sure they would return the next year due to the quality of presentations they saw.
Here is an open plea to bar associations:
You don’t have to hire me to train your CLE speakers at your annual events, but you do have to hire someone. Or at least license someone’s training program to distribute to your speakers.
Or maybe even just buy Garr Reynold’s Presentation Zen or Nancy Duarte’s Slide:ology in bulk and send them off to all CLE speakers booked for your annual event. Yes, I really wish I’d written one of these books 20 years ago when I first started complaining about Power Point.
Seriously, do something!