Being relatable

Being relatable is one of the keys to being a successful lawyer. When mastered, being relatable can help you to:

  • Deliver an engaging presentation to any audience.
  • Understand and deliver work product that exceeds client and partner expectations.
  • Attract new clients.

The steps to being relatable are similar whether you are speaking, providing legal services, or talking with prospects. Just substitute audience for client/partner and presentation for project or future work. Here are the three steps:

1) Provide information in an easy to understand, digestible format.

Find out ahead of time what your audience is hoping to get out of the presentation, project, or meeting. Do they want to solve a problem, prevent a problem, learn new way of thinking about something?

Has a similar presentation been given in the past? If so, ask the host what information was useful and what was not. Find out what the audience want to learn more about. Along similar lines, perhaps you can also learn what he or she believes would make the presentation a home run.

Generally frame your remarks so the least knowledgeable person can follow. Stay out of the weeds. Don’t make people think too hard to understand you. Practice on your spouse or friend who has no subject matter knowledge. If they can’t follow you, you need to simply the message or include illustrative examples.

Be creative and interactive to keep the audience engaged. You can ask questions that require people to participate (e.g., raise their hand for yes). Story-telling is another way to engage the audience and illustrate a major point.

If the information is available elsewhere (the internet, for example) you will need to add something to bring the audience closer to the material. You can organize the material along a timeline. You can relate the information to a relevant current or historical event. You can include additional knowledge that adds context to the material.

2) Relate the information to something folks in the audience care about.

Consider asking the question – “Why should you all care about this?” Then, provide a couple of possible reasons. Perhaps your words address desired or undesired results. Polling ahead of time or even during could provide intel here.

Make sure to answer the question. Help people connect the dots because they probably will not on their own. "You should care because…"

3) Answer the question of what can folks do now that they heard you.

Tie steps number one and two in a neat little bow by providing suggestions for action (or potential solutions if in a project format). You can ask, “Now that you have the information and we talked about why it is important, what can we do to avoid this bad result, create this good result, or maintain our strong position?”

Here is your chance to provide nuggets that will help make folks that attended your presentation or meeting, or worked with you feel it was time well spent. Give them the edge over folks that didn’t spend time with you and help them accomplish something they wouldn’t have done before they heard you.

Image courtesy of Ambro at