We’ve blogged before about how helpful it is to watch other speakers to learn from them. In our books and lectures, we recommend that you observe, adapt, and adopt to help develop your own personal style.

When you hear a particularly effective speaker, watch and listen closely for what makes them impressive. The checklist below includes some things to look for to help identify what makes them an articulate, confident presenter.

Observe, Adapt, Adopt Checklist

  • What is their stance? Are they standing with their feet planted and moving with purpose?
  • How are they gesturing? Are their gestures smooth and slow? Where are their hands when they are not gesturing?
  • Look at their body alignment. Is their posture helping them appear confident?
  • Are they making eye contact with the audience?
  • Are they reading or talking?
  • What is their pace like? Do you have time to think about what they are saying?
  • How are they emphasizing certain words or phrases? Are they using gesture to show emphasis? Are they changing their pace or volume?

Use Courtroom Video

In addition to observing speakers in person, courtroom videos are readily available online. You can use these videos to look for techniques that you may observe, adapt and adopt for yourself. Even if you mostly speak outside the courtroom, courtroom video is an excellent source for watching lawyers make persuasive arguments and explain complex issues, skills that are applicable for any type of presentation. You can also observe demeanor, a crucial skill in any legal conversation.

The National Center for State Courts lists links for video for each state. We’ve compiled a short list of some of our favorites, based on ease of use, below to help get you started.

United States Ninth Circuit

United States District Courts (Archive) 

District Court for the Northern District of California, the District Court of Guam, and the District Court for the Western District of Washington

Arizona Supreme Court