Brooklyn Bar Association teaches persuasive public speaking
Continuing legal education (CLE) seminars are essential for any active lawyer to both meet their requirements to stay active as an attorney and as a way to keep up with relevant changes to the law.
On Monday, the Brooklyn Bar Association hosted a CLE that was less about changes to the law and more about practical knowledge a good lawyer needs to win his or her case — persuasive public speaking.
Actress Stacee Mandeville, who teaches public speaking courses for Red Leaf Coaching, and attorney Gregory Esposito, a former Broadway actor, ran the CLE which turned out to be one of the more lively and interactive seminars of the year.
“What I find most of my clients face is that you know what it looks like and sounds like to be powerful and persuasive,” Mandeville said, “but when you get under pressure and there is an audience there and there are high stakes, we have trouble manifesting those skills.”
Mandeville ran the first part of the seminar and discussed body language tools that are necessary for public speaking. Those tools included eye contact, pauses, moving with purpose, what to do with your hands, articulation, volume and intonation.
“It’s not magic, you have to practice,” Mandeville said.
To demonstrate these tips, she called volunteers up and one by one found their biggest weakness and tried to help them with it. In just a couple of minutes a few of the volunteers had made major strides.
“I thought she gave great advice and transformed people right before our eyes,” Esposito said.
Esposito’s portion of the seminar focused more on being a persuasive speaker and not just a good public speaker. He gave tips on being a better storyteller by stressing that public speakers need a specific point of view and need to keep it in mind while speaking to an audience.
“We as lawyers, what do we do?” Esposito asked aloud. “We’re story tellers. People hire us to tell their story and it’s not about what you say, but how you say it.”
To prove his point, Esposito passed out four nursery rhymes and had volunteers read classics like “Three Blind Mice” or “Jack and Jill” with specific points of view. He even had two different attorneys read “There was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe” with different points of view as if they were arguing a case against each other.
“I’m not just selling you something that I don’t think you can use,” Esposito said. “I’m giving you something that I use all the time. I never go up there without a feeling, without a point of view.”
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