join now
advertise with us ABA Journal Blawg 100 Award 2009 ABA Journal Blawg 100 Award 2008
Subscribe (RSS Feed)TechnoLawyer Feed

SmallLaw: How to Arrange Speaking Opportunities That Grow Your Practice

By Lee Rosen | Monday, January 25, 2010


Originally published on January 18, 2010 in our free SmallLaw newsletter.

"Why is it that you're always being asked to speak?" That's what one of my family law colleagues asked me the other day. Lawyers ask me that question all the time. I change the subject. I don't want to give away my secrets.

I speak quite a bit. I've spoken at lunch time programs for civic groups for years. I've given keynotes for non-profits at their volunteer appreciation events. I've even spoken at an academic pep rally at a local high school. That's all on top of the attorney and judicial education programs in which I've participated for many years.

But I didn't always get invitations. No, I'm not a party crasher. I don't thrust myself onto the podium. So how do I line up so many speaking gigs? Today I'm going to let you in on my secret.

Just Ask

For a long time I asked (yes — asked) groups if I could speak. I called the person responsible for putting together the program and made my pitch. More often than not, I got the gig. It wasn't hard. I wasn't paid and I had a pretty good story. After all, many groups, like Rotary (which I love, by the way), need to find a speaker each week. They aren't all that selective.

My other secret is that I've rarely given a speech without getting a client. That's ultimately the point, right?

Here's how it usually goes. I speak at the Rotary lunch. I give an entertaining 16 minute talk (1,000 seconds actually — divided into 200 seconds for the introduction, 200 seconds for each of three stories, and 200 seconds for the conclusion). The audience laughs and cries (or at least stays awake). I say goodbye and the next day one of the Rotarians calls for a consultation.

Think about it — they've got to call someone, and at that moment, I'm the only divorce lawyer they know. It's not rocket science.

The Details

So, how do I get the booking? I look through the newspaper or hunt on the Web for listings of local clubs. Dozens of social clubs exist for every type of person imaginable.

I call the contact person and ask for the name and number of the person who handles arranging the speakers.

I call that person and explain that I practice divorce law. I tell them that I love speaking to groups. I've got a program ready to go. It's called the "Myths and Realities of Divorce." I explain that funny and informative — and a crowd pleaser. I tell the booker that it applies to everyone in some way since everyone knows someone getting a divorce. We chat about how divorce is a frequent topic of everyday conversation.

Have some material ready in case the booker wants you to mail or email information. We have a letter and flyer ready to go. More often than not we arrange a date while on that first call.

When the date arrives I'm careful to confirm that we're still on track for the program. I ask about the number of people expected at the meeting. I've spoken to as few as a handful and to as many as 600.

It's nice to have a feel for the audience size before arriving so I can bring the right number of handouts. I usually prepare something short and have a copy for everyone. I want the audience to leave with something that lists my name, phone number and Web site.

I also bring a copy of my written introduction. It's important to have an introduction ready to roll. Don't rely on the club officer to be prepared to introduce you. Make it fool proof. Print it in large type. The person introducing you might be 80 years old with poor vision.

Generally, I arrive early and get a feel for the room. Usually, the group expects me to have lunch with them before the speech. Don't be shocked if you have to pay for your lunch. Be prepared to say the pledge of allegiance. I eat a light lunch quickly and and the program starts around the time dessert is served.

Once I'm introduced, I approach the podium and deliver my remarks. I try to bring as much energy to the room as I can muster. I'm absolutely certain to be finished within 1,000 seconds. Being fast is more important than being great.

Thank everyone as you head for the door.

Usually, I gather some business cards during the event. I write a handwritten note to each person I've met. I usually follow up with some of the interesting people. I also write a note thanking the club officers and the person who planned the event and booked me.

Then I get back to work. If all went well, I can count on the phone to ring.

Written by Lee Rosen of Divorce Discourse.

How to Receive SmallLaw
Small firm, big dreams. Published first via email newsletter and later here on our blog, SmallLaw provides you with a mix of practical advice that you can use today, and insight about what it will take for small law firms like yours to thrive in the future. The SmallLaw newsletter is free so don't miss the next issue. Please subscribe now.

Topics: Law Firm Marketing/Publications/Web Sites | SmallLaw
home my technolawyer search archives place classified blog login