Three Tips For Your Next Speaking Gig


At breakfast this morning I reminded myself that I did not yet have a topic for today’s blog post. When that happens, I usually dig through my backlog of ideas (saved in Evernote) and unread articles and blog posts (saved in Instapaper). Instead, this morning I began with a title.

Actually, not the whole title. I wrote down, “Three Tips for. . .” and went back to my eggs.

My subconscious mind came to the rescue. It reminded me that earlier this week, I had given a luncheon presentation. There must be three things I could share about public speaking.

The first one was easy. It was something I didn’t do but will do the next time. The other two I nailed.

So here are my three tips:

Tip number one: Meet the audience before you begin.

Had I done this, I would have learned that one of the guests was an attorney. I could have tailored my remarks to him. I might have engaged him with a question or two. Another guest was a real estate agent. I could have incorporated her background in one of the examples I used in my talk.

It’s usually not possible to meet everyone but meet as many as you can. I knew I was addressing business owners and professionals, but had I met some of them in advance, I would have been able to provide more relevant context (examples, stories) and generally deliver a better talk.

Tip number two: Don’t depend on A/V.

There was no projector available at this location, so I could not use slides. No problem. I knew my talk and could deliver it without any visual aids. In my opinion, this makes for a better presentation because the audience focuses on you instead of the screen.

Use slides if you have to. Avoid them if you can. No matter what, you need to know your subject well enough so that you can deliver it when there is no projector, no electricity, or the bulb burns out.

Tip number three: Have some friendly faces in the audience.

A speaker is only as good as his audience. We draw our energy from the people in the room. If you are addressing a group of dullards, people who don’t smile, don’t laugh at your jokes, and don’t respond when you ask for a show of hands, I don’t care how good you are, your talk will suffer.

My wife was with me. I can always count on her. One of my business partners was in the front row and he has good energy. When I looked at him leaning forward in his seat and smiling at me, it not only helped me, it helped the others in the room who took their cues from him. I had him “keep score” every time one of my “jokes” got a laugh and this added to the fun.

So those are three tips gleaned from this week’s presentation. Okay, I just thought of one more. If you’re doing a lunch presentation, start off by asking for a show of hands: “Did anyone order a salad?” Apologize and tell them you asked the restaurant to leave out the tomatoes. “They’re way too easy to throw at the speaker.”

Make people laugh and they will like you and your presentation. Even if you don’t have any slides.


How to get more clients to schedule an appointment


There’s a precept in marketing, and especially copy writing, that says you will get a higher response to your offer when you, “tell people what to do”.

Don’t leave it up to them to figure out. Tell them what to do, even if it’s obvious.

If you want people to call to schedule an appointment, tell them WHAT to do (call 888-555-4321), WHY (to get a free consultation and find out if you have case), and WHEN (now, between 8-5pm weekdays, any time 24/7).

If you leave something out, fewer people will call.

And whatever it is you’re telling them to do, make it easy for them to do it. Filling out a simple form on your web site with spaces for the information they’ll need to submit will get a higher response than an application they’ll need to print, fill out, and fax.

Making it easy also means being clear about what to do. Tell them what form to fill out and what button to push. Tell them what will happen after they do it.

Make it so clear that it is almost impossible to misunderstand.

And don’t change something that’s working. Once people get used to doing things a certain way, changes risk confusion and a lower response.

My wife went to pay our electric bill online. Last month, all she had to do was click the button that said “Submit.” This month, without telling anyone about it, the “Submit” button was now labeled “Save.”

She didn’t want to save, she wanted to pay. Where was the submit button?

She wound up calling the company to make sure she was doing it right. The person she spoke with admitted they were getting hundreds of emails from customers who were confused by the change. How many customers will be late paying their bills this month because they are confused?

Side note: Someone should fire the genius who thought “Save” was better than “Submit” or “Pay Now”. Yikes.

Another side note: If they’re getting hundreds of emails from confused customers, uh, here’s a thought: change the button back to “Submit”.

If you want to get more people calling, clicking, or pulling out their credit card, tell them precisely what to do and make it as easy as pie for them to do it.

If you’re not sure, show your page or email to a ten year old kid and ask them to follow the instructions. If they’re not completely clear on what to do, if they hesitate in any way, you’ve got work to do.


How to make your marketing irresistible


Darren Hardy, publisher of Success Magazine, writes about an interview he did with marketing legend Dan Kennedy for a recent issue. I’m a big fan of Dan, who is well known for using bold, some would say outrageous concepts to gain attention and win the sale. He’s one of the best marketing minds in a crowded field and if you have not read his books, I suggest you do so as soon as possible.

One of the subjects discussed during the interview was “shock and awe marketing.” This is where the marketer (that’s you) delivers to the prospective client an experience that is so compelling, they are almost powerless to say no.

Hardy was familiar with the concept. He said that as a young man selling real estate, he used this strategy to get more than his fair share of coveted expired listings to re-list with him.

He describes his “Shock and Awe Blitz Campaign,” as follows:

I made up in hustle and aggressiveness what I lacked in age and experience. I developed what I called my Shock and Awe Blitz Campaign. Once I set my sights on you, you were either going to love me or hate me, but you would not be able to ignore nor forget me.

Between 6 and 7 a.m. the morning your listing expired, I’d be standing on your doorstep asking to relist your home with me (immediately separating myself from everyone else and delivering a little shock). Sometimes this is all it took, but if not…

Later that day you would get a package hand-delivered by an assistant, that we affectionately called “Da-Bomb,” because it was big and stuffed full of combustible materials explaining why I was “Da-Bomb.”

Then in the early evening an assistant would show up and hand them a SOLD sign and say, “This is a gift from Darren Hardy; you will need this soon after you hire him to sell your house.”

Later that evening I would stop by in person and ask for the listing again.
(Key point: More than 50% of the time the listing was won or lost within the first 24 hours. This is why I blitzed all-out during that time.)

If the listing still hadn’t been secured I would then have something hand-delivered or mailed to them every day for at least two weeks along with a daily call from me personally.

It wasn’t long before they would call exasperated, exclaiming that if I would market their house like I market myself, I had the job. Shock and awe baby!

Now I know there are lawyers reading this and thinking, “I could never do anything like that.” But they’re thinking inside a box that’s labeled, “lawyers can’t approach prospective clients,” or another box labeled, “that’s undignified.”

They need a new box.

You may not be able to approach prospective clients this way, or any way, but couldn’t you go back to a former client with a compelling campaign to win their business?

I’ll answer for you: yes.

What about a shock and awe campaign targeted not at prospective clients but at prospective referral sources?

Sounds like a plan.

Could you do something like this with a publisher, meeting planner, or the media?

Yes, yes, and yes.

Hardy challenges his readers to create a shock and awe package and campaign and I second the motion. Put together a collection of compelling evidence as to why you are the best lawyer for the job, and a process for delivering it. This could be as simple as a timed series of letters or emails that successively build upon each other, making the case for why someone should choose you.

At the very least, you should have a “shock and awe” package you can deliver to prospects who ask about your services.

In a world filled with lawyers who (appear to) do the same things you do, you cannot rely on charm and good looks to get clients to choose you. Unless, of course, your charm and good looks are irresistible.


Could you charge more for your legal services? Here’s how to find out


Could you charge higher fees for your legal services than you charge right now?

What if you could get paid one-third more than you now get without losing any business. Wouldn’t that be cool? Or, maybe you might lose some business but increase your net income because of the higher fees you are paid from everyone else. Also cool.

Most attorneys set their fees by looking at what other attorneys in their market charge. They don’t want to charge a lot more or a lot less so they play it safe. But some attorneys do ask for more and they get it.

True, these higher paid attorneys may have more experience or a higher-profile reputation. They might offer more value to their clients. Perhaps they are better “sales people” or have more chutzpah. Maybe they took a chance when quoting fees and got lucky.

The point is that some attorneys get paid more than other attorneys for doing essentially the same work. What if you could, too?

There is a way to find out if you could charge more. No, not by asking your clients or prospects if they would be willing to pay more. They have a certain, um, bias, don’t you think? No, if you want to find out if people are willing to pay more you have to charge more, and see if they pay it.

But hold on. Don’t raise your fees across the board just yet. That’s too risky. You don’t know if this will be successful. What if you ask for too much and lose too many clients? Not good. Conversely, what if you don’t ask for enough? Your clients may pay ten percent more without flinching, but how do you know they wouldn’t have paid twenty percent more?

The answer is to test higher fees with small groups of clients and/or prospects and measure the results.

Pay-per-click advertising is a great way to do “split testing”. Basically, you quote one fee to the first inquiry and a higher fee to the second. You alternate quotes until you have a meaningful sample of responses and clients. With enough responses, you’ll be able to see which fee is producing (a) the most clients, and (b) the highest income.

Pay-per-click advertising has become extremely expensive and you might not want to use it as an ongoing marketing tool. But for short term testing purposes, wouldn’t it be worth it to find out conclusively that you could safely charge a lot more than you do now?

If your practice isn’t amenable to advertising, there are other ways to test fees with smaller groups of prospects. If you do seminars, for example, you could quote every other attendee a different fee. Or quote different fees at every other seminar.

The results of price testing are often surprising. You would think that charging higher fees would decrease the number of sales (clients) but that is not always the case. Sometimes you sell just as many at the higher price. And sometimes, believe it or not, you sell more at the higher price.

But you’ll never know unless you test.


Networking 101: Two simple ways to start a conversation


So there you are at your bar association or chamber of commerce mixer. Lots of people you don’t know but would like to meet. “I should talk to them. . .”. but you don’t because you don’t know what to say. So you find a familiar face and talk to them instead. Sadly, another networking opportunity has passed you by. Oh well, maybe next time. . .

If this sounds familiar, I’m here to rescue you. I’ll share two very simple ways to initiate a conversation with someone you don’t know.

Before I do, I should point out that if you are at a function where the attendees are expected to mix and meet, like a bar association or chamber of commerce meeting, talking to people you don’t know is expected and not at all hard to do. Just introduce yourself: “My name is David, what’s your’s?”


After that, ask them what they do. Let them do the talking. Ask more questions. Ask for their card.

Of course they’ll ask what you do and ask for your card. Presto-chango, new contact.

What about when you’re not at a mixer or other organized function where meeting new people is part of the agenda? How do you start a conversation when conversation isn’t expected?

This is also easy. You can either,

  1. Ask a question, or
  2. Pay a compliment.

“Do you know where the rest rooms are?” “Hey, I like your tie?” “Is that a Coach bag? It’s gorgeous.” “What time does the program start?” “Do you work near here?”

Either way, you will get a response and a conversation will have ensued. What to do next depends on the circumstances. When in doubt, another question usually keeps the conversation going.

What do you do to break the ice with people you don’t know? Please share your experiences in the comments.