Industry Presentations

What are you doing to make a presentation that will give you the best chance to be hired? Here’s one key: Give the audience something you know they will find valuable.

As you might imagine, over the years I have given many presentations at ABA, State Bar, City and County Bar meetings. My presentations have ranged from career development to client development to leadership.

If I have made a presentation for your group, you know I ask for young (and sometimes experienced) lawyers to let me know the 1-3 things they want to make sure I cover, or 1-3 questions they might have. I personally respond to each email I receive.

A few years ago a young lawyer attending a Bar meeting said:

He was working the room before the room was assembled! Not bad…

I hadn’t really thought of it that way, but he was correct.  I always approached my presentations to construction  associations the same way.

I frequently asked the construction association executive to let members know that I wanted to hear from them with questions or topics they wanted to make sure I answered or covered in the presentation. Then, I made sure and include the subjects or questions. I confess that I never received a question or topic that I was not planning on covering.

Why is working the room this way important and why should you do it for your presentations? It’s pretty simple: You will address what the audience is seeking to learn.

Out of curiosity, how are you preparing for your presentations? Are you getting feedback? Is someone looking at your slides and discussing the number of words you have placed on slides?



A lawyer I coached asked that question.

My answer:

I made presentations at construction industry meetings.

Scan 53How did I get the opportunity?

I was insatiable to find out what issues highway contractors would be facing in the future. Those, over time included:


I created detailed guides for contractors on each of the topics above and gave them away. Then, I was asked to make presentations.

Sounds like a lot of work. How did I find the time?

I never found it. I made the time. Usually from 6:00 AM to 9:00 AM on Saturdays and Sundays. I chose that time because, if Nancy wasn’t working at the hospital, she was either working out or…easing into her day, and our daughter was still asleep.

I am speaking this week at an Associated General Contractors 2010 Highway and Utility Contractors Conference. My subject this time is Social Media. When I practiced law I spoke at this meeting every year. How did I get that opportunity? In a nutshell:

  1. Pick the most important legal topic facing the industry
  2. Write about the topic first
  3. Get what you have written as widely distributed as possible

First and foremost you want to pick a topic that industry members will find valuable. I have shared with you that your clients don’t care about what you do. They care about their problems, opportunities, internal and external changes.

Second, write about the topic. Chris Brogan recently posted a blog titled: Build a Stage for Public Speaking. I urge you to read the post. He says that if you are not blogging, no one knows what you are going to say on their stage. I agree. I tell lawyers I coach that writing articles or blog posts leads to speaking opportunities.

Third, get what you have written as widely distributed as possible. Here is an example of a letter I sent to Construction Industry association executives, who I knew personally, when innovative contracting and financing methods were first introduced in the highway construction industry.

Mr. John Smith

Association, Inc.
Re: Innovative Contracting and Financing
Dear John:
(First I try to identify a problem, opportunity or change that affects the association members)
As you are undoubtedly aware, TEA-21 not only increases the amount of funding available for highway and other transportation construction, but also authorizes innovative contracting techniques and innovative financing.  This move toward innovative contracting and innovative financing started several years ago and has been encouraged by the Transportation Research Board and the Federal Highway Administration.  Because of the substantial increase in federal funding, I believe many state DOTs will search for innovative financing techniques to fund the required state share.  I also believe some state DOTs will use Design-Build as a means of getting projects constructed more quickly and efficiently.
(Second, I want to establish my own credibility to talk about the topic)
In March of this year, I gave a presentation to a Federal Highway Administration sponsored symposium on innovative contracting.  My presentation focused on the legal aspects of innovative contracting including: design-build, incentive/disincentive clauses, A+B bidding, warranties, and privatization.
(In this instance, I was conducting firm sponsored workshops and wanted the association executive to let his members know)
I discovered that many contractors and DOT officials were interested in learning more of the legal aspects of these innovative contracting techniques.  As a result, Jenkens & Gilchrist, P.C. is presenting two one-day workshops in November of this year.  I am enclosing a brochure outlining the workshops. If you believe the workshops would be of interest to your members, please let them know about it.
(I wanted to give the alternative for the association executive to invite me to speak at the association convention)
If you would be interested, I would be happy to discuss  a presentation at your next convention or annual meeting.  Please give me a call if you are interested in learning more about the workshops or interested in discussing a presentation at your next meeting.
By the way, I always re-use (re-purpose is the marketing term) the materials I create. When I did these programs I created both an Innovative Contracting Guide and a Design-Build Guide. I invite you to take a look at my Design Build Guide and if you are a construction lawyer, I invite you to steal my material, edit it, update it. Think about how many blog posts or how many e-books you can create from all the material in your edited and revised edition of the book.