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5 Tips for More Effective e-Discovery Presentations

Kimberly Haschalk

Learning from industry peers is a critical way e-discovery practitioners keep their knowledge sharp. Insights that help the community improve its skills, look at legal and tech issues from new angles, and spark ideas to work more creatively and efficiently are in high demand.

As a result, you e-discovery experts and influencers are a busy bunch. You put together a lot of presentations.

We’re thinking about presentations quite a bit now that we’re in the midst of a call for speakers for Relativity Fest 2016, so we thought we’d share some insights of our own. Here are a few tips to help you in your next speaking opportunity.

Tip #1: Maximize your impact with a co-presenter.

Your expertise has immense value, and you can take it even further by bringing another team member aboard to help you make your point. If you’re an attorney, for example, you can take your session to the next level by teaming up with a workflow expert who can shed light on the more technical aspects of your chosen subject.

Think of it this way: Does a session called “The Defensibility of TAR” or “5 Ways to Build a Defensible TAR Workflow for Your Next Case” sound more memorable? You can make your content more impactful if you bring a range of expertise and offer tangible lessons for your listeners.

Tip #2: Make it a conversation, not a presentation.

Bring your perspective to the table while welcoming your audience’s. Best practices for any presentation involve leaving some room at the end for questions. That’s a good place to start, but you can also be more interactive throughout your session.

Engage your audience by asking questions of them. By building a little audience participation into your session, you can help them better connect with your message so they’re more likely to take it home and apply it to their work. Ask questions like, “Who here hasn’t yet tried applying TAR to a project? What’s holding you back?”

Check out this recorded session from Relativity Fest 2015 for a great example of a memorable, interactive session.

Tip #3: Don’t be a robot.

Remember how difficult it was to sit through a lecture in college when the professor stood behind a podium and read directly from his notes for the entire class? Don’t be that professor.

One of our biggest tips is also the simplest: Don’t be afraid to move away from the podium and travel around the room a little. If you’re integrating yourself into the audience and staying active, your listeners’ minds will stay active, too.

For related tips, check out this quick list of body language recommendations from Toastmasters—an organization of public speaking gurus we really admire here at kCura. Watch TED Talks and practice repeatedly in front of your mirror, the dog, or whoever will listen to help these skills come naturally.

Tip #4: Focus on the experiential element.

Your insights are hard-won. People want to know not just what you know, but how you know it. Include plenty of personal anecdotes and real-world scenarios to make your audience feel connected, trust your expertise, and retain your key points.

Lessons we find relatable are the ones that stick with us the longest—they inspire moments that give us pause and spark the realization that “Hey, I bet I can do that, too.” What gives you the confidence to try a new technique after learning about it from a seasoned expert? That expert’s credentials and verbal explanations might be impactful, but we’ll bet the hands-on guidance they provide—the walk-throughs and project examples—is worth a lot more.

Tip #5: Place yourself in your audience’s shoes.

Don’t lose sight of “presenter’s bias.” You know your content is interesting; you’re building your presentation—and likely your career—on it, after all. But what if you were on the outside looking in?

Step away from your materials and give them another look. Are you including multimedia that offers a change of pace and keeps listeners engaged? Are you avoiding assumptions about your audience’s previous knowledge? Are you weaving stories, rather than rattling off facts and figures? Ask yourself these questions and seek feedback from others. If the answer is ever no, take another stab at it.

I once saw Tom Brokaw speak at a conference. He was a natural—he made his content emotionally impactful, and he made every listener feel they were having a direct conversation with him despite the fact that it was an audience of hundreds. I may not be the influencer he is, but I do hope to give my audience that kind of personal attention every time I speak. Who inspires you?

For the seventh consecutive year, the e-discovery and legal technology community will gather in the Windy City this October to exchange ideas, test out the latest and greatest product updates, and network with the best and brightest in the industry. We hope to see you there so you can join—and perhaps with the help of these tips, lead—the conversation.

In the meantime, what presentation tricks have you learned by attending conferences like Relativity Fest? Let us know in the comments.