The Awesome Orator


By Taylor Burton Published on December 6, 2023

Estimated reading time: 4 Minutes

Being a skilled orator goes hand in hand with practicing law. You have to present arguments in court, communicate with clients, negotiate with opposing counsel, and so much more. Excellent oratory skills are a must if you want to truly succeed in the legal world. This skill might come naturally to some while others struggle with it. After all, this is a stressful career in which others are depending on you; it's completely reasonable to get nervous when speaking on your latest case.

Whether you're an expert orator or desperately in need of some tips, we're here for you. Read on to learn how to become an awe-inspiring orator!

If you'd like to gain an even deeper understanding, join us on Friday for "Lessons from Abraham Lincoln in Professionalism and Civility." During his time, "Honest Abe" was known as one of the nation's most accomplished attorneys and a profoundly influential orator. He left an indelible mark on the legal profession as well as American politics. Join our experienced panelists as we explore examples of professionalism and civility throughout Lincoln's remarkable career in this thought-provoking CLE course!

 

before a conference, the microphones in front of empty chairs.

 

Practice. The only way to excel at something is to practice. Not only does this improve your skill, but it grows your confidence as well. If you're wondering how you come across in the courtroom, rehearse out loud and record yourself doing so. Pay special attention to your voice and body language when watching the footage back. Do you speak clearly? Or do you mumble, pause, and use filler words such as "um?" How is your pitch, your pace? Do you come across as self-assured and confident?

Give it a shot and see if you learn anything new about yourself when viewed through the audience's lens!

 

Personality. You're not running for office or giving a graduation speech, so you don't have to worry about how charming and likeable you are. Instead: Be confident. Be assured in yourself, your knowledge, and your ability. In order to build your case and foster trust, your audience must believe in you--which means you need to believe in yourself more than anyone.

Even if you think you have low confidence, it's time to fake it until you make it. People are depending on you. Believe in your strengths.

 

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Connect. An awesome orator is able to successfully connect with their audience. You need to be able to connect with your clients, the judge, the jury, fellow lawyers, and anyone else who is listening. The best way to do this is by being authentic.

Connecting with your client is particularly important. You can do this by highlighting shared interests or sharing personal anecdotes about your life. 

Knowing your audience and being able to connect with them is what takes your orator skills to the next level.

 

Learn. History is filled with awesome orators such as Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, and Martin Luther King Jr. If you're in need of some inspiration, check out this article from WSB, which contains video and highlights of numerous historic speeches. Observe how they speak, the impact their pauses can have, and how the audience reacts. Ask yourself which qualities you can apply to your legal career.

 

Businesswoman standing on stage and reporting for audience-1

 

Want some more tricks to help overcome nerves?

Make time to do some deep breathing before any presentation. Breathe in for five seconds and out for five seconds, keeping your breaths slow and steady. This can help soothe any anxiety you might be feeling and slow your heart rate down.

Don't forget to have water nearby to prevent a dry throat. Pausing to take a sip can also help you catch your breath and calm your nerves during your speech. If you really have issues with a dry mouth or "cotton mouth," imagine yourself biting into a sour lemon. The mere thought can wake up your salivary glands and defeat a dry mouth. You're also welcome to bring a real lemon to court, though you may have some explaining to do.

Not a fan of lemons? Ginger beer or tea is another great option.

If you suffer from a nervous stomach, bland, low-fiber food such as bananas, rice, apple sauce, and toast can help settle things down. A soothing cup of tea can also ease nausea while keeping you hydrated. Just make sure to avoid dairy, which can leave your stomach roiling and cause a buildup of phlegm. You don't want to be constantly clearing your throat while trying to speak!

 

tasty yellow lemon over white

 

Perfecting your speaking abilities can be difficult, but it's not impossible. Lawyers should especially take it seriously because excellent oratory skills offer an edge over the competition. Add these tips to your arsenal in order to power-up your future public speaking!