Estate planning lawyers in general seem to be more comfortable than most with speaking in public, although their skill levels vary. That may be because attorneys who go into this particular practice area are usually “people-persons,” that is, they are social people and enjoy sharing information and, honestly, putting on a little bit of a performance when they speak.
Being a speaker makes you the credible authority, a leader. After all, you are in the front of the room, they are in the audience. But speaking takes time, so you want to make sure that the time you invest in scheduling a program, preparing to speak and actually speaking is worth your time.
Here are some questions to ask before you agree to speak:
- Are you addressing a built-in crowd, like at a conference or an awards luncheon?
- Who will be in the audience?
- If it is not a built-in crowd, how are people being invited and who is inviting them?
- How many are expected to attend?
- Is this a first-time event? If it is an annual event, your contact should be able to give you very good insight on how many will attend.
- Will you be provided with a list of attendees before or after the event so that you can follow up with them?
- Are there other speakers, and if so, who are they? You will want to know if there will be other estate planning or elder lawyers speaking.
- What are the other speaker’s topics?
- Who is sponsoring the event and are they going to speak? When are they scheduled to speak: before or after you?
- How is the event being promoted?
Your time is valuable, so you want to be sure that the time you take to speak will be productive. Don’t be afraid of first-time events; often by taking the risk of being a speaker at a first run, you gain an inside track that will lead to your being invited for subsequent years.