How to Help Lawyers Avoid Random Acts of Conferencing

Every legal marketer has a Conference Playbook with tips, checklists, and creative questions to encourage their lawyers in making the most of speaking at and attending conferences and networking events.

By learning how and when to leverage key moments before, during, and after the event, attorneys can activate an ideal mix of mindsets and methods to keep business relationships warm and stay engaged with marketing themselves and their firms.

Preparation: Questions to Consider Before the Event

  1. Speaker Goals: What are your business/brand development expectations? (generate leads, build reputation, cultivate existing relationships, develop new relationships, get hired)
  2. How will you measure success?
  3. What makes your topic compelling and timely?
  4. Virtual Events: If you’ve previously presented the topic in-person, will it translate well to a virtual environment? Will you shorten it (by 15-30 minutes!) to keep the online viewers engaged?
  5. Can you use the topic/conference as an excuse to start conversations with clients/connectors? Reason to gather data, learn points of view, understand pain points, collect FAQs, craft case studies, curate other valuable input to better inform your content and plant business development seeds. 
  6. What’s the best presentation format? Is this a new event or known conference with traditions and loyal attendees?
  7. How will you engage the audience? What do you know about the audience? What can you learn about the audience? What are their problems, needs, pain points, industry trends, competitive landscape, economic drivers?
  8. What speaker role suits your strengths? (moderator, panelist, solo presenter, color-commentator, Q&A leader)
  9. Do you have time to commit before/during/after? (content development, dry run, tech tool practice, pre-event team huddle, follow-up actions, team debrief)  
  10. Who are the likely attendees? Will you get the registration list? Can you invite guests/clients?
  11. Can you reuse/repurpose/recycle the topic/content across multiple marketing channels (blog, video, podcast, case study, webinar, etc.) Are there other ways to extend the “shelf-life” of your effort?
  12. Is there an audience “draw” or “hook” that suits the topic? (checklist, white paper, download, tip sheet, risk assessment) 
  13. Will you use slides, visual aids (flip chart, white board) or other appropriate props to support your topic? 
  14. What concerns (insecurities) do you have around content delivery, executive presence, technology, time commitment, performance?

Performance: Questions to Consider About Your Presence During the Event

  1. How will you show up for the audience as your best self? (appearance, attire, energy, tone, camera-readiness, lighting, eye-contact, sound/microphone, body language)
  2. Are you ready to be on stage/exposed? Take three deep breaths. Smile. Make eye contact.
  3. What are you wearing? Avoid busy patterns, favor solid colors. Test your attire with your lighting and make adjustments. You will show up differently on camera. Consider the temperature, don’t let them see you sweat in a layered outfit.
  4. Are you a fast talker? Trim your content if needed, and slow down. Expect and allow for pauses between sentences. In some virtual environments, it may take a while for the audio to be transmitted, or the audio starts before the image is transmitted.
  5. How are you engaging the audience? (ice-breakers, encourage chat and questions from the start, encourage video on, use polls, use annotation tools, share screen, raise hand, conduct Q&A, breakout rooms, social media hashtags, QR codes, virtual backgrounds)
  6. What is your plan to time yourself during the session? How long are your prepared talking points? Can you trim your content to translate better to online learning?

Post-Game: Questions to Consider About Your Strategy After the Event

  1. Internal Team Debrief. What went well? What would you do differently?
  2. Personal Presenter Debrief: How do you think you presented yourself? Did you notice any verbal/body language distractions or tics? How did you feel?  Were you prepared the way you intended? Did you rely too heavily on notes?  What could you do better?  Focusing on their presentation style.
  3. What did you learn at the conference and how can you pay it forward internally with colleagues or externally with clients and connectors? 
  4. How do you rank/prioritize the list of attendees (existing clients, known contacts, leads, opportunities)? What is your follow-up plan?
  5. Did you learn valuable information about a good-fit target market for your practice?
  6. Did you raise your visibility with the right people/entities?
  7. Are you seen as a thought leader in the space/niche and can you further leverage this reputation?
  8. Did you have an opportunity to nurture existing relationships? Begin to build new relationships?

A Playbook of Pro Moves to Make the Most of Your Conference Efforts

  • Nail the Introductions. If someone else is introducing you, provide a memorable soundbite. Introduce yourself with confidence, avoid lengthy credentials, tell an interesting story. Explain why you are on the virtual stage and connect your expertise to the specific online audience needs.
  • Moderating a discussion? Read How to Run a Conference Panel That Isn’t Horrible and How Not to Introduce a Speaker
  • Miss those chance encounters? Make a plan to be seen. Increase ROI by attending sessions and networking events beyond your own presentation. Let colleagues and acquaintances know you are there by reaching out in advance, participating in Q&A during their sessions, asking memorable questions.
  • Prepare and practice a brief, memorable, audience-targeted Elevator Speech.
  • Update your online bios and profiles (firm website, LinkedIn, other places your name shows up in a Google search.)
  • Post on LinkedIn, share your passion for the content, excitement for the conference, thank the organizers, @mention your fellow speakers, promote other thought leaders you look forward to seeing.
  • Tune into your body language on camera as a speaker and as an attendee.
  • Practice active listening. Think: W.A.I.T. – Why am I talking?
  • Rename yourself on screen (Zoom) to include your firm or practice area.
  • Attend with a conference “buddy” and stay accountable to adding value to virtual networking breakouts.
  • Use a QR code in your slides or virtual background to drive attendees to your LinkedIn profile or content landing page.
  • Make introductions between like-minded individuals before, during or after the virtual conference.
  • Use the chat box to add value to sessions you are attending.
  • Ask audience to provide their email addresses in chat to receive answers to long questions, or value-add content after your session..
  • Save the chat box conversation before you leave the online event – great fodder for future thought leadership content and targeted attendee follow-up.
  • Take a screenshot of the Participant List or Video Gallery.
  • Stay engaged. This is when you can drastically  improve your return on time invested. Follow-up within 24-48 hours.
  • Debrief with your fellow panelists and commit to repurposing your collaboration as appropriate (co-author content based on the Q&A, repeat the panel discussion for an adjacent audience, transcribe and republish the conversation).
  • Send personalized LinkedIn connection requests. Offer something  to open doors to future conversations and touchpoints (a related webinar your firm is hosting, a recent article of interest, a Zoom meet-n-greet with an alliance partner)
  • Watch the video recording of yourself and talk with your marketing support team about areas for improvement.

Scripts for LinkedIn Posts

Conference Name hosted by Entity Name will be taking place on Day/Time. This is a great way to gain insight on X-Y-Z topics. There’s a terrific lineup of speakers and sessions for BLANK industry enthusiasts, including my colleagues @mention, and @mention, and @mention. I’m pleased to be included in the speaker line-up and will be covering Session Title. Learn more and register at URL #conferencehashtag On behalf of my @mentionFirm practice group colleagues, thank you to the dedicated planning committee and staff for providing this forum.

It’s an honor to be presenting [remotely] on A-B-C topic at the Conference Name organized by Entity Name. There is a stellar line-up of presenters for this conference. I hope to “see” you there in one of the virtual networking events. 

This morning I’m learning about the challenges [industry stakeholders] face in today’s business landscape from a terrific panel including my colleagues @mention and @mention during the Virtual Conference Title. #eventhashtag

Earlier this week, we presented virtual to 100+ industry leaders in the [alliance partner/industry] community. We discussed the issues most affecting [role] nationwide right now as well as some solutions to those problems. Below is a synopsis of what’s happening in the marketplace today.

Tuesday’s Q&A with @metionspeaker of @mentioncompany at the “Event Name” virtual conference was packed with information for the [niche] industry. Here are 5 key points/trends: