Some attorneys shouldn’t be allowed to speak in public


A developer wants to rezone a parcel of land just outside our gated community of single-family homes and turn it into high-density multi-family residential units.

Our homeowners association is up in arms about it and last night I went to a meeting.

The bottom line: nothing has happened yet and there’s nothing we can do yet, other than attend city council meetings and make ours views known.

In other words, something that could be communicated via email.

But don’t get me started on useless meetings. No, I want to talk about the speaker (an attorney) and offer a few comments about his presentation.

He began by telling us he was an attorney and said something about “land use” but didn’t explain that his firm was hired by our board and he was there to provide a report. I had to figure that out.

NB: Start by telling the audience why you’re there and what you’re going to talk about. (Or have someone introduce you.)

Over the next 35 minutes, he appeared to provide some information. I say “appeared” because he was very difficult to follow.

NB: Use an outline, with points and sub-points, or a timeline of events, or some other logical structure to your talk. Let the audience see where you’re going so they can go on the trip with you.

He droned. Long, run-on sentences, three words when one would do, lots of conditional statements. He didn’t talk to the audience, he talked at us. When someone rudely and angrily interrupted him, he was ruder and angrier.

NB: Speak like a human being. A little charm, a little animation, a story or two. Take a breath now and then. Engage the audience. Be nice to the audience, especially when they’re paying you.

Well, that’s my report. Meeting adjourned.

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