Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association gives CLE on sounding prepared, even when you’re not
The archetype of a lawyer is extroverted, boisterous and confident, but for many this archetype is not one size fits all. For many attorneys, experienced or not, fitting into that stereotype is a lofty ideal that is more often seen in the movies than in real life.
To address this issue, and to hone lawyers public speaking abilities, the Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association invited a panel for a continuing legal education seminar titled “Never Sound Unprepared Again (Even if You Are)” at the Bar Association building in Brooklyn Heights on Wednesday, May 2.
The panel included Marea L. Wachsman, Brooklyn Law School professor Heidi K. Brown, and Nicole Wells.
The seminar primarily focused on identifying the differences between introversion and extroversion, how to embrace your introversion as an asset and how to become more proficient at public speaking.
“What I’ve noticed in having talks with people about this is that individuals who are more experienced or seasoned in the law have been faking extraversion or forcing it for many years,” Brown said. “Finally, having a conversation about the fact introversion is a huge asset to lawyers and saying, ‘Wow I can finally be myself because I know I’m a good lawyer, but I’ve just been forcing myself to do this extroverted, gregarious persona, but now I’m just going to be myself.’”
The author of “The Introverted Lawyer” and an introvert herself, Brown focused her presentation on common ques to self-identify introversion and how to embrace those character traits to become a better lawyer.
As an introvert, Brown said that she draws on her own personal experience and explained her struggles on the path to becoming more open, hoping to relate to the audience.
“It is important that if you’re the type of person who experiences anxiety towards performance scenarios to step back and think, ‘Oh, I’m introverted that’s why these brainstorming sessions, hard-charging negotiations or group meetings where everyone is talking are tough.’
“Our entire profession is based on judgement,” she continued. “It’s the word we use when a judge issues a decision, it’s about judgement and that’s not a bad thing, but we need to increase or awareness of how the whole judgement nature of our profession affects our ability to express ourselves.”
Wells, a communications consultant and a “former introvert,” gave solutions to improving on public speaking. She offered that using your peripheral vision while speaking, correcting body language, understanding your materials thoroughly and not overly engaging in legalese are the foundations for improvement. Most of all, though, public speaking, like most things in life, take practice.
While improving on extroversion and public speaking skills are primarily a task for self, it will take the entire legal community to shift the stereotype of what a lawyer is supposed to be, says Brown.
“The more we start these types of conversations in legal environments, the more I’m seeing extroverted law-office managers curious to tap into their introverted employees’ potential,” Brown said. “They see that they’re gifted in legal writing, analysis and deep thinking in research.
“I think the more we have conversations about extroverts and introverts in the law, we’ll realize that both groups bring great assets to a team and will expand its potential. Having those types of conversations and realizing that introversion is not a weakness in the law will take us far.”
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