I’m back home after having a great time at the bigger and better than ever Missouri Bar Solo and Small Firm Conference. It once again lived up to its reputation as the premier conference of its kind in the US. But don’t take my word – just count the number of people from other state bars who come every year to learn ways to improve their own conferences. I may do a blog post or two later this week about my experiences there.
Today, I thought it might be interesting to share some details about one of my presentations. The presentation was about “Internet presence” for lawyers and the ethical issues affecting the ways lawyers now use the Internet.
As many of you know, I’m a big fan of Cliff Atkinson’s Beyond Bullet Points approach to PowerPoint presentations and have used his style for several years.
Too often, the BBP approach gets over-simplified and described as slides with pictures and few words.
Certainly the initial reaction can be that you are seeing the opposite of the dense, text-intensive slides that lawyers often use. But I think that misses the (bullet) point.
The fact is that you can do a great presentation with great slides, terrible slides or no slides. The key is the presentation itself and the context in which it is given.
The great value in the Beyond Bullet Points approach is in the way it helps you create a compelling story, organize it well with an audience focus, and keep the focus on the presentation, the presenter and the slides, in that order.
The part of BBP I like best is Atkinson’s approach to starting out your presentation. It creates a structure that I really like.
I reproduce the draft of the intro I used for this presentation to illustrate the approach. I say draft because I changed it slightly to adapt to the the audience I found in the session.
I don’t have the book at hand, so I’ll lay out the steps in my own way. You’ll want to read the book.
1. Set the scene. Cliff refers to this as establish the “when” and “where we are”. Because you can’t be sure how you will be introduced (even if you write it out and hand it to the moderator), I usually combine this with a quick statement of my bona fides (why people might think that I’m someone they should listen to). If I didn’t do that, I would have started with the sentence that begins with “Currently.” This works as a “hook” into your presentation.
I said:

“My first presentation on using the Internet for marketing and the ethical rules that apply was in 1996. I had been looking at the issues before going live with my first website in 1995. Much has changed since then, but it’s also been an area of surprising stability, until recently. Currently, we are at a time when we see changes in both the rules that apply to Internet marketing, and other Internet usage by lawyers, and, more significantly, changes in the technologies and options lawyers now have to use the Internet to communicate and collaborate. In a real sense, we have to deal with two moving targets.”

As an aside, I realized that if I gave this presentation on a recurring basis, I’d use the “two moving targets” as both a subtitle for the presentation and as a visual motif or theme for my slides. This reflects Atkinson’s approach of finding and using a unifying simple visual theme to connect your slides and reinforce your main points.
2. Who are we? The “who” part of the intro also provides a quick and early answer to the all-important “what’s in it for me?” question that your audience is thinking.
I said:

“As practicing lawyers, we all have similar goals – wanting to participate in the real benefits of using the Internet for marketing in proven ways to an audience that increasing seeks information online and doing so in an ethical way that meets all applicable requirements.”

3. Point A. Where do we start from? Sketch out the place the audience starts from and what we all have in common. Another way to look at this is that you are setting out the problem.
I said:

“We’ve reached a point, as you’ll see today, where we have a solid understanding of what Web 1.0 ethical compliance requires.”

4. Point B. Where do we want to go? I sometime think of this as the answer to the “so what?” question. You can also see this as setting out the resolution of the problem.
I said:

“We also want to move to a point where we can have a strategy and approach that will keep us comfortably in compliance as the Internet landscape transitions toward what is often referred to as Web 2.0 and beyond.”

5. What we’ll try to accomplish today – getting from Point A to Point B. What we will accomplish or try to accomplish in this session – moving from Point A to Point B (or at least closer to Point B) in practical ways. Coming full circle and finishing the setting of the scene.
I said:

“When you leave this session, you will have a better sense for the popular new forms of Internet technology lawyers, and, as I’ll discuss, especially solo lawyers, are pioneering today, the potential benefits of using these technologies, the old and new ethical challenges, and some useful guidelines, directions and action steps for using these technologies in ethically compliant ways.”

As I said, I really like this approach, and think it works for me, but there are obviously many ways to give great presentations. The BBP method gives me a great structure and organization, whole giving me great great freedom and flexibility within the presentation itself.
See what you think. Then read the book. And remember that there’s more to this than simply using pictured with a few words. Will this approach to creating an introduction help you in your next presentation?
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (https://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
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