In this episode of the Legal Marketing 2.0 podcast, Guy is joined by Marsha Redmon to discuss how to master virtual presenting. Marsha is the CEO of Marsha Redmon Communications. For over 20 years Marsha has helped lawyers and executives communicate more effectively in order to get more business through presentations, public speaking workshops, business development, and law firm video marketing coaching. She is also a former Gibson Dunn attorney and a TV news reporter.
1. What’s the major difference, in your mind, between virtual presenting for thought leadership and then doing the same thing in person?
I’d say right now the most important thing to know is that there’s a huge opportunity for lawyers right now and law firms who get good at virtual presenting and there are two reasons for that. The first one is when you’re on camera in a virtual scenario. You can leverage what I like to call the talking-head video advantage, so if you’re properly framed with good lighting and the right camera angle you get to essentially borrow the presumption of credibility that comes with looking like a talking head expert. The second thing is each person on the other end of the zoom, they feel like they’re having a one-on-one conversation with you. You’re right there on their screen, you’re big. They feel connected to you, so if you can be engaging and conversational in that scenario your audience can feel like they know you. Now let’s compare that to an in-person presentation for thought leadership. You may be 10 or 20 feet away, maybe 50 feet away at a big conference. That’s a much more distant communication and that distance reduces the connection.
2. What are the challenges in a hybrid presentation, as opposed to a purely virtual or purely in-person presentation?
So hybrid is when you have audience members that are in the room in person and you also have other folks that are joining remotely by zoom or some other platform. And it’s a very complex scenario for anyone and it’s new for all of us so think about it, you may have speakers who are in the room and some speakers who are remote. Then you have audience members who are in the room and other audience members who are remote, so it’s very difficult. Again, the lawyers and the firms that can learn to really connect in this new hybrid scenario will have a huge advantage now and going forward. Imagine your firm is doing a hybrid pitch or a hybrid client seminar. And the clients, on the other end, are feeling marginalized or forgotten because you’re focusing on the people who are in the room. That’s going to hurt your relationship and that’s really the number one problem we’re seeing.
3. What are some mistakes you’ve seen lawyers make when they’re presenting virtually?
They do not make eye contact and I realize it’s hard. I went to broadcast television school as an undergrad and we spent months learning how to make eye contact with a giant camera as though we were looking at a single real person. So I get that it’s hard, but we have to learn how to do it. The clients and the prospective clients and other audience members on the other end of zoom will only feel like you’re secure and authoritative and comfortable if they feel like you’re looking at them, so you have to look at the actual camera, especially in the beginning. The other reason is just being boring. There are two reasons for it, the first one is low energy, and on zoom and other virtual platforms, we don’t feel comfortable. We’ve been on zoom for years, and so the thing to know is how to communicate energy over a virtual platform. It’s through your voice and your body. When you’re standing in front of a room, at the top of the stage with 100 people, a lot of the energy that you communicate is with your body.
4. You’ve been working with lawyers for over 20 years on their communication skills. What would you say is one of the most important things you teach many lawyers that they still need to learn?
Lawyers often miss their audience, they may not always know who is in their audience, and they certainly may not give attention to how they can start their communication to get the attention of their audience and how much detail should be included based on who the audience is. Funny story, I started this business 23 years ago when I was working as a TV reporter, the second time because I noticed that really smart people like lawyers, doctors, scientists, and technologists had the hardest time giving a decent interview on a consumer or an investigative stories and I finally figured out, it was because they didn’t get who their audiences was. Those really smart people didn’t know. And so with lawyers, I really help them to focus and ask the question what will have an impact on my audience about this topic?
In the digital age, virtual presentation skills are more vital than ever. Understanding how to communicate confidence and expertise through virtual means can be a challenge, but any lawyer looking to thrive and be seen as a source of thought leadership must hone their virtual speaking, body language, and overall communication skills.