CHAMPION STRATEGIES – PUBLIC SPEAKING WORKSHOP – OCTOBER 8, 2021-5
PUBLIC SPEAKING TIPS FOR MOCK TRIAL STUDENTS
11. Have a Stay Cool Plan
Decide now what you’ll do if you draw a blank. If you know what to do in the worst possible scenario, you don’t have to fear it, and you can focus on delivering your best speech possible.
I call this a Stay Cool Plan. Here’s what I suggest: Remind yourself it’s no big deal. Just pause. Take a deep breath. Stand straight and assume an “open” body position. Think. If you’re still stuck, take a sip of water. Then think some more. If you’re still lost, just move on to the next thing you doremember.
You can even admit you are lost. But don’t look like panicked and say “uhh…I forgot what comes next!” Be graceful about it. For example: “I’ve lost my train of thought, but will return to it as soon as it comes to me. In the meantime, I’ll move on to discussing…” If the part you forgot comes back to you later, you can say something like “I’ve recalled a point I intended to make earlier. Returning to the topic of ….”
Just like you have fire drills at school, you should practice your Stay Cool Plan. That way, if you have to use it, you’ll know exactly what to do.
Special Tip for Pretrial Attorneys
If a judge asks you a question that you can’t answer, you can’t just ignore the question and move on to the next topic.
Follow your Stay Cool Plan and do your best to provide an answer. If you truly are stuck and cannot give any kind of answer, just admit it. Say something like “Your Honor, I don’t have an answer for that, but …”, then make (or reiterate) a strong argument for your position.
Admitting you’re stuck is far better than fumbling your way around it, and it can give you a lot of credibility. But, you don’t want to say “I don’t have an answer for that, Your Honor” after every question the judge asks you. This is a last resort!
12. Addressing the Judge
Do not call him or her “judge.” It’s “Your Honor.”
When the judge asks you a question, answer it. Don’t pretend you’ve misunderstood the question. Don’t give an answer to the question you wish the judge asked. That will just annoy the judge.
13. Referring To Opposing Counsel
Although attorneys should never speak to opposing counsel directly during a trial, they may refer to opposing counsel. Try to catch their names when they make their appearances. Then refer to them by name, for example, “Ms. Granger” or “Mr. Weasley” (not “Hermione” or “Ron”).
You could also call them “counsel” or “the defense” or “the prosecution.”
Calling them “opposing counsel” isn’t very professional. It’s generally not how lawyers refer to one another, so it’s a bit awkward when it’s heard during mock trial.
I hope these 13 tips help you feel more comfortable speaking in a public setting. We’ve covered a lot of ground here, but remember, it all boils down to:
- Be Clear.
- Be Yourself.
- Don’t Be Awkward.