5 Quick Tips for Persuasive Presentations

Why is it important to be persuasive?

Don't we just present legal training in an informational manner?

Persuasion is not often the first thing on the mind of in-house counsel when designing legal training. 

That needs to change. 

Legal training presentations aren't just an "FYI" to employees. You're asking them to believe you, trust you, and implement what you recommend.

You need to persuade them.

This is no easy task, but here are 5 quick tips to help you be persuasive during legal training:

1. Know your audience

Knowing your audience is critical to persuasive legal training. You must understand their expectations, base knowledge of the topic and engagement triggers (i.e., delivery and content preferences that make legal training engaging to a particular group). 

Corporate counsel set time aside to brainstorm these items. Really try to put yourself in the shoes of the audience:

What topics are relevant to their job? It's wise to perform a training needs analysis before doing any legal training.

How much training have they already received on the topic? Is this a topic already covered in part in your annual employee training? Or is this a wholly new topic they've likely not heard?

How much formalism do you need? E.g., is this a formal board committee meeting or a presentation with new customer service staff? Adjust your tone and materials accordingly.

What form should the content take? Is it more effective to train your audience in person? Do they have time to be trained in person? Or is a webinar or online training better? Can you only show PowerPoints? Or can you show video?

Taking the time to understand your audience will immediately pay dividends as you will more easily persuade them to adopt your viewpoint. It will also help you avoid potential pitfalls. 

2. Answer why

The power of "because" is uncanny. Research shows that giving people a reason (nay any reason) they need to follow a certain rule will make them more likely to agree with your conclusions.

Brain science aside, you need to answer a question every employee is thinking:

Why is it important that we discuss this topic?

Providing a legitimate answer to this question will instantly provide you with credibility, and will make your legal training much more persuasive. 

3. Wrap your content in a story

A story serves like the sugarcoating on the outside of a pill in some ways — it just makes it go down easier.
— Susan Duarte

This quote from renowned speaker Susan Duarte sums up well how in-house counsel should look at story-telling. 

You can't just give employees a giant list of facts, statutes and quotes from regulatory agencies during legal training. They'll be bored, tired and most importantly, not persuaded. 

You can really drive home the importance of a concept by using a relatable story to explain. 

For persuasive legal training, this means weaving legal definitions, best practices and other explanations with interesting hypotheticals (try using fact patterns from real cases or just make up a creative story!) and storylines. 

4. Know your stuff really, really, really well

Of course in-house counsel should know the laws they're teaching. 

But just as important, you need to know your presentation really, really, really well. 

Practicing your presentation (more than once!) will make you a more confident speaker who commands the attention of (and persuades) the audience. A confident speaker provides a valuable experience to the audience. 

I'm sure you don't have a lot of time on your hands to practice, but if you're going to do legal training, it needs to be done well.

Practice, practice, practice.

5. Be conversational

Being conversational during legal training will help you understand your audience and quickly adjust your training as needed. 

What does it mean to be "conversational"?

For legal training, it means having a back and forth dialogue with the audience, letting them have some control over the direction and flow of the presentation. This is typically the opposite experience you had sitting in your law school's constitutional law class. 

Why is it important to have a dialogue during legal training?

It's important for in-house counsel to be conversational in order to craft the training to the audience on the spot. This is extremely valuable. 

You can plan training all you want, but you'll never be able to paint a complete picture of each employees' understanding of the topic before you begin. If your presentation is a conversation, instead of a lecture, you can specifically tailor the training topic on the fly. If training is more targeted, you'll have a better chance of persuading your audience. 

What do you think? Are there other ways to be more persuasive during legal training?

Maybe setting the right learning mood in the training room?

Let me know in the comments!