Valerie Madamba | How to Stand Out as a Thought Leader By Becoming a Better Presenter

Do you struggle to connect with audiences in your public speaking engagements and legal presentations? You can continue to struggle or learn how to be a more engaging and memorable presenter.

Valerie Madamba knew she had to overcome a huge learning curve as a public speaker if she wanted to be happy and successful as a lawyer. Once she figured out how to connect with an audience and help them solve their problems, she started learning to love being on stage and owning that as part of her career development.

Now, having gone from regulatory lawyer to legal presentation coach, Valerie has so many great tips, suggestions, and pieces of advice to help you stand out as a thought leader, public speaker, and presenter. And she’s here to talk about the benefits of public speaking as a lawyer who’s a go-to expert in your field.

In this episode of The Lawyer’s Edge podcast, you’ll learn about how to raise your profile as a visible expert and be known as a leading authority other people seek out. You’ll discover why stories are such a critical vessel and how to use them in your presentations, the most common mistake to avoid in presentations, and steps you can take to begin building a better experience for your audience.

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WHAT’S COVERED IN THIS EPISODE ABOUT STANDING OUT AS A THOUGHT LEADER 

1:10 – The surprising thing that sparked Valerie’s interest in presentations and public speaking

4:09 – Why lawyers need to be persuasive speakers, elevate their voices, and tell stories that people will remember

11:53 – The mistake lawyers make when they deliver their presentations and how to flip it around so that you increase engagement with your material

18:02 – Where to start if you want to create more engaging presentations and present on a complex topic without dumbing it down

26:04 – Public speaking trends that have emerged post-pandemic and the impact they’re having on attorneys

30:25 – Suggestions for making conversations more comfortable for people who are asked to share their experiences

34:27 – One thing you have to be prepared for as the person leading the presentation

36:13 – One thing to keep in mind when delivering engaging presentations that position you as a leading authority in your practice area

Connect with Valerie Madamba

Valerie Madamba brings a wealth of experience as a former food and drug regulatory lawyer, having navigated roles in the federal government, Biglaw, and in-house settings. Founding her own legal presentation coaching consultancy, Valerie now resides in Brussels with her family, assisting lawyers worldwide in refining their presentation skills to bolster their practices and brands.

Valerie Madamba

Valerie Madamba on LinkedIn

Mentioned In How to Stand Out as a Thought Leader By Becoming a Better Presenter

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Welcome to The Lawyer's Edge, where we talk with top attorneys, legal industry experts, and business advisors about tools and strategies lawyers can use to grow thriving law firms and become impactful leaders. Here's your host, Elise Holtzman.

Elise Holtzman: I'm delighted to welcome my guest today, Valerie Madamba. Valerie is a former food and drug regulatory lawyer with experience in the federal government, big law, and in-house roles who is now a legal presentation coach.

After living and working in Washington, DC and New York City, Valerie is currently based with her family in Brussels. Val helps lawyers around the world make better presentations to stand out as thought leaders and grow their practices and their brands. Valerie, welcome to The Lawyer's Edge.

Valerie Madamba: Thank you so much, Elise. It's great to be here.

Elise Holtzman: I'm delighted to have you here to talk about one of my favorite topics, which is public speaking, thought leadership, ways to raise your profile as a visible expert so that you can be thought of as a leading authority and be the person that people seek out when they need help with something.

I would love to learn how you went from being a regulatory lawyer to being a presentation coach.

Valerie Madamba: Yeah, well, what sparked my interest in presentations and public speaking is pretty simple. It started with being extremely bad at it and really uncomfortable with really any kind of speaking.

When I was in law school, early in my career, I am an introvert, but I was at that time very, very anxious and quite shy about speaking up in any way. The learning curve for me, it was a really big obstacle in my career, just in the way that I interacted generally in the workplace.

For me, it was a huge learning. I had to commit if I wanted to be successful and happy as a lawyer, I knew that I had to get more comfortable with public speaking. I had this inkling that I had something to say and that I would enjoy being on a stage if I could just figure out what my voice was and what I enjoyed doing as a speaker.

I really, again, committed to it, learned for years, tested the waters, got on different stages, both big and small, and then started to really learn to love it once I figured out how to connect with an audience and help them solve problems. It really became something that I started to own as a part of my career and part of my career development.

Elise Holtzman: You mentioned this idea of connecting with the audience. I think that that's something that so many lawyers and other folks struggle with when it comes to the idea of getting up in front of a group and speaking, somehow that it's all about them. “Everybody's looking at me. What if I say the wrong thing? What if somebody asks me a question I don't know the answer to? What if I trip on stage, my outfit doesn't look perfect, or whatever?”

So we're going to get back to this idea of, I guess, making it not about you, and connecting with the audience, because I think that's such a powerful realization for people.

I'm curious when you did the work to become more comfortable with this, get better at it, and actually wind up really loving it, did you have coaches that helped you or is this something that you white-knuckled and did on your own?

Valerie Madamba: Yeah, I wish I had had coaches at the time but the idea back then wasn't even on my radar so I think I could have sought it out but I just didn't think to, and the training, it just wasn't there in the particular workplace environment that I was in. So I did not. I did white-knuckle it. I fortunately had good mentors and people that I could lean on for feedback, but no formal coaching or mentoring.

Elise Holtzman: You mentioned that becoming a comfortable persuasive speaker has been really important to your career or was important to your career as a practicing lawyer. Why is it so important for lawyers to be persuasive speakers?

Why not just say, “I'm doing good legal work,” sit in your office, produce exceptional papers, documents, whatever it may be, why is this something that you think is so important for lawyers to be doing?

Valerie Madamba: Yeah, there are so many reasons, so many benefits to doing the work of public speaking. I think one of them is that you've got to answer, especially if you're trying to develop a business and become known as a go-to expert in your space, you've got to be able to answer this question of, “Why me? Why should I be the one that clients or ideal clients should be calling?”

That requires being visible and owning what you do and the way that you do it. It's not about, I think, inventing a special proprietary way of doing things because once you're ready to present, you're already an expert in what you do.

But a lot of it is just committing to showing up and again, being visible and letting people know that this is what I do, this is how I help, I can see you, I understand your problems, which, again, is the kind of expertise that you have developed. Even as you're just starting out, let's say, as an associate, you're deep in the work, but you've got expertise to offer. It's just about, I think, showing up again.

I think another aspect is that, especially in legal, there are so many reasons to say, “I'll engage legal next quarter or I've had bad experiences with legal being these blockers, whether you're in-house or external counsel, and just not letting me do what I want to do.”

So if you're, let's say, in a company, you might have some resistance that you're not even aware of sometimes and there are just so many biases that exist, inertia, resistance that we are up against as legal speakers. I think that putting a persuasive but also approachable faith in legal and shining a light on the benefits of working with legal and legal solutions is just so critical.

Elise Holtzman: It's like you're saying becoming a human being rather than just a department, right? I mean, I think that you're right that so many people look at, especially in-house, but even for external counsel, people do look at the lawyers as the naysayers and the problem creators in a way, when in fact lawyers want to show up as problem solvers. I think putting that human face on it is really important.

I know you also talk about things like elevating your voice, telling stories that stick, that people remember. What are some examples, I guess, you've seen of people doing just that? How do you think that being able to show up as your authentic self and telling stories that people remember can be so important?

Valerie Madamba: Yeah. Stories are everything when you're presenting. But even in any kind of communication, when you're in a one-on-one conversation or you're presenting to a big room, I mean, stories, examples, and anecdotes, they're what give meaning to information because otherwise, information is just a bunch of data points.

It's so hard, especially as we're saturated with so much data, so hard to figure out “What do I actually do with all of this information in front of me?” Stories are such a critical vessel. They're this container that helps us make sense of information.

A couple of examples I like to use are just let's say you're figuring out how to open a presentation. It can always start with a simple story, whether it's real, a composite, or some hypothetical based on client work that you've done. This story should be something that your audience can easily imagine themselves stepping into.

This story accomplishes a lot of things. It creates that instant connection with your audience. It shows them that you understand maybe a day-to-day challenge or something that they're working towards or maybe something that they fear and that you can help them avoid.

Starting with a scenario is a really simple but a really powerful way to open a presentation. I think that another example of a story that I'd like to encourage my clients to use is one that's a little bit more vulnerable so it can be a little scary, but it's one where you reflect on how you may have misstepped on a complicated topic.

Let's say you're addressing a pretty complex topic about contract negotiations. You could reflect on a time that was earlier in your career when you were working through, “Okay, how do I handle this topic?” and you had a near miss or you stepped in it and maybe it didn't go so well.

Everyone's got to choose the right examples for them. They shouldn't be too career damning and everyone can use their judgment to choose the right ones. But this shows that, again, you are a human. You have worked through what you're presenting and what was once challenging for you, and you came out on the other side as the expert that you are now. So it's a way of showing rather than telling that you have the expertise that your audience needs.

Elise Holtzman: You mentioned humanizing yourself by telling these stories and by being willing to share mistakes or missteps. I think that It's really true that people relate to you so much better when you're willing to be a little bit vulnerable.

You're not talking, Valerie, about sharing creepy personal information about yourself, you're just talking about being willing to admit that you're not perfect because I think people don't relate to perfectionists, people don't relate to other people who are trying to hold themselves out as being the be-all-end-all and having it all figured out. We all want to walk that path together and admit that we're fallible and that we can learn from our mistakes.

Valerie Madamba: Yeah, I think that's so important. Especially again, in legal, where a lot of our audiences, let's face it, have seen a lot of legal presenters showing up as this ivory tower sort of figure who's just going to tell them what to do and then is swooping out, and where the discussion, it's not really a discussion, it's more of a unilateral information drop, and that kind of distance is really tricky. It doesn't do much for the audience. That person doesn't show up as a person.

Whereas we buy from, we want to connect with, and we want in our inner circle people who are people, who, as you said, are not going to be perfect, but have grown and can face challenges along with the rest of us.

Elise Holtzman: Let's go back to talking about what the standard approach is that many lawyers take when delivering presentations and, not to be critical, but just to observe what you typically see because let's face it, most lawyers haven't been trained in public speaking. It's not like anybody trained us in law school.

We did moot court and there might be people that dove into that a little bit more because they enjoyed it. But it's not part of the standard training for most people and maybe they do it once in their 1L year. They do a little bit of moot court.

I did moot court once and I'm pretty sure I was terrible at it so nobody ever talked to me about it again. What are the standard approaches that you see lawyers taking? What are some of the mistakes you think that they're making?

Valerie Madamba: Yeah, I'd say that the general standard approach, and it's definitely the one that I started out with, is being very academic and information-focused. The most important part of that standard legal presentation is the information. The hero is the legal concept or maybe the statute, and that's where we start.

That could look like just leading with the statutory language itself, or a whole drawn-out regulatory history. Like you said, this is the sort of thing that we get rewarded for. I mean, it's meticulously showing our work, the way that we're trained in law school, even using frameworks for analysis like IRAC, it's really putting the issue first.

Whereas in a presentation, when we're actually talking to people directly, we need to flip that paradigm and put them at the center of the story. What is the challenge and what is the conclusion we are ultimately driving towards? That takes a lot of just flipping and adopting a new way of thinking and coming down back into being people who know how to have conversations because this is a skill that we possess but we forget to integrate that into this kind of work, into our presentations.

Elise Holtzman: Right, the people in the room are not law review editors and you're not submitting a law review article to them. I think that it's really hard for many lawyers to step away from that because we are so used to information and data. We are so used to the analysis. We want to get into the meat of that as you say.

I know that for me, when I started speaking 15 years ago, I had the challenge of getting so excited about my topics that I wanted to share every bit of information that I knew on the subject.

I once had a mentor say to me, “Your content is great, but it's not actually about the content. It's about the engagement with the people in the room. Cut down your content, take a section of your content, maybe 25% of your content, and then amplify that and make it about the people in the room.”

I really have to thank him for giving me that advice because over the years, public speaking, seminar leading, doing workshops, and creating those workshops have become a tremendous part of what I do. That was the first time that somebody really explained to me that it wasn't about the content, it was about the people, the engagement, the stories, and them stepping into the material, as you say.

Valerie Madamba: Yes, you're so fortunate to have gotten that input and I wish everyone could hear what you just said to hear that mentor's advice because that is really the key to engagement. That is probably the number one question I get: How do I make my material engaging? That's just it, to forget about all that information, to cut it down. There's always an opportunity to cut it down to 20%-25% and just focus on that audience that's in front of you.

Elise Holtzman: How do you think the audience responds to the old way of doing it, if you will? In your experience, what are they saying and doing when they walk out of something that's more of a presentation and less of a collaboration or engagement?

Valerie Madamba: Yeah. Best case, they're thinking, “Okay, I heard all of that. I'm not sure at this moment what I'm supposed to do with it, but I'm going to go back and review the slides that are going to be in the conference packet or that they're going to email to me. I think that it will become clear later.” That's the best case.

So audiences, they want to get a benefit from your presentation. The worst case is that they feel more confused and overwhelmed than they were when they walked in. Unfortunately, from what I see in here, this is a pretty common scenario because when they walk in, yes, they have questions, and they know that the material is complex, that's why they're there. But they have high hopes, even if this is a sort of mandatory company workshop or something like that.

Regardless, they want the presentation to be worth their time. They expect that it can be because they know what their problem is and they're eager to hear about what the resolution might be from you.

It's unfortunate that a lot of speakers squander that goodwill that's already there. They do that within the first couple of minutes by, again, making that common mistake, which is centering on the information instead of the audience's problems.

Elise Holtzman: What are the first few steps you would recommend to a lawyer who says, “You know what, I see myself in this.” We're not suggesting that the lawyer beat herself up here, but she's saying, “I can see myself in this. I dread these things because they're not turning out the way I want them to. I don't really know how to proceed. But I want to start creating more engaging presentations. I want to feel more comfortable with this. I want to give the audience what they want. I want to let them know what I'm capable of and how I can help them solve their problems.” What are a couple of things you would recommend just in terms of getting started?

Valerie Madamba: Yeah, definitely. I think the good news is that the work is not about learning more or adding more. Certainly not. It's about, I think, doing less. I think one of the first steps I'd recommend, let's say if you have a presentation that you're planning, is to think smaller about the scope of what that presentation is.

Again, information is everywhere. It's cheap and it's easy to get, but your job as a presenter is to deliver meaning and to help your audience get from one place to a better place and help them get on the path to achieving a goal.

So it doesn't have to be and it shouldn't be everything that you're trying to squeeze into a presentation. It should be one quick win. Focus on one action that you want your audience to be able to take when you're done and wrap up a couple of primary benefits of that action.

If you can whittle down that action and a few benefits into one sentence, it's what I like to think of as your core message or the thesis of your presentation, then that's going to have a waterfall effect on the rest of your presentation, because you can use it as a filter for everything else that you say, or the way that you design your slides, and the insights that you choose to present.

Remember that, again, in a presentation, you're giving them that quick win and just a preview of the way that you work. There's always going to be more. We don't solve problems in one client meeting or even in a year, we don't reduce risk in a year, but we help them with priorities and getting the work done one issue at a time. Think of your presentation in the same way.

I would say another key exercise for every presentation that you give is to practice writing down where your audience is now and where they want to be and then in the middle, think about, “Okay, how am I equipped to again help them do that one thing that will get them on the right path?”

Not everything, but what is that one thing that I can help show them? Is it a checklist? Is it one procedure that I can help them think through and outline in this presentation? What could I do specifically to help them bridge that gap? Then build your presentation and your core message around that.

Then finally, this is a little bit more of a thought exercise, but as you’re listening to other presentations, when you're sitting in workshops and webinars, be active about scrutinizing them.

Again, it's not about criticizing the industry or our peers, but more about thinking, "Okay, what can I draw from this and learn for my next speaking engagement?" Think about, "Is this person speaking to me? Are they helping me to keep my energy high as it's flagging, and I just want a snack and it is 4:00 PM? Is it easy for me to pay attention and stay engaged?”

Can you summarize the value of this presentation in that one sentence? Just think about what's working as you go through the presentation, and hopefully, this will help you to stay engaged yourself through that talk.

But actively take notes, use them as learning opportunities in every way, and you'll find that the things that work for you will likely work for your own audiences. So you can use those learnings and implement them in your next presentations.

Elise Holtzman: It's such great advice. As I was listening to you talk, I was thinking about some of the things that I now do as a very experienced speaker. One of the things that I will sometimes do if I'm working with new material is to give my presentation a title, even if it's not the one I'm going to use.

It'll be something along the lines of “How to X?” So that when I start putting it together, I remind myself that I am there to help people figure out how to do X, even when there are difficult circumstances, they don't know how to do it, they're afraid to do it, or whatever it may be.

Another thing I do is I’ll create a menu of choices, if you will, of actions that they could potentially take after the program. This is something you mentioned before. How are we getting them from point A to point B? Then not just have them be engaged in the room, but actually go back to their desks and do something as a result of this.

Because as you mentioned before, we're trying to drive action here. So sometimes I'll say, “I encourage you to pick or choose one or two things that you're going to do in the next couple of weeks as a result of being here today. Here are some options. Does anybody else have any other suggestions for things that you could do in order to make this thing happen?” But having those guideposts in place for myself helps me stay on task and not go down a rabbit hole somewhere that they don't need to be a part of.

Valerie Madamba: Yeah, I love those suggestions. The how-to style title, I love it, both as a working title and as a real one that you can use in practice because again, it's so specifically action-oriented. Even though it's a nice, simple template to use for a title, but presenters shouldn't be afraid of using that one and committing to showing and owning that I'm going to show you how to actually do something.

Don't run away from that as a presenter because I hear a lot “My presentation goal is to be creating awareness.” Well, like you said, Elise, the purpose of a presentation is not going to be awareness, at least a successful one, it's going to be some form of action. Because action, not just awareness and knowledge, is what is going to make some sort of change.

I also loved your suggestion about thinking about that menu of actions. You can use that in so many ways, both to guide the way that you whittle down the actions that you present, but also, let's say at the beginning of your presentation, you can show “Here are a bunch of things that you could potentially do, and today we're going to talk about things two and three.”

I think this is a really nice way to show the complexity of the landscape that you're dealing with. This makes a lot of my clients nervous. How am I going to present a complex topic without dumbing it down?

I like to use this kind of tactic, showing the landscape and showing that you know what's up with it, but then showing that you're also going to focus is a really nice way to tow that line and achieve that balance.

Elise Holtzman: I think it also sometimes leaves them wanting more. They say, "Well, this is great. You talked about point number three, but can we have you back to talk to us again about point number six? Because obviously, we didn't have time for that today, but we think that that's a really important topic.”

Valerie Madamba: Yeah, so smart. That's what we want.

Elise Holtzman: Val, obviously, the world has changed over the past four years with the pandemic. We had a lot of people all over the world locked down. We weren't getting together in person so much anymore. A lot of people were doing presentations online, which was making them uncomfortable and folks had to get used to that.

What trends are you seeing now when it comes to public speaking and how do you think that impacts attorneys?

Valerie Madamba: Yeah, I've seen a number of legal education providers and conference organizers have this new commitment to doing things in a different way. Maybe there's a recognition that we've been doing the lecture for a really long time, and we just need to up that sense of humanity in everything that we do, including our presentations.

I've been really encouraged to see more activity and just more interest in doing more human-centered and engaging legal education. It doesn't really have to be complicated and I'm seeing conference organizers just do a lot more fun activities, make their content more, let's say, focused on characters and stories, and doing work within the setting of a presentation.

Instead of that one-way 45-minute lecture, there's going to be a lot of skill-building opportunities where participants can get their hands dirty and, again, come away having an improved or a new skill or action that they're excited to take.

Elise Holtzman: I see more and more something along the lines of what you're talking about, where there are a lot more breakout sessions or just turn to the person next to you for the next 60 seconds and have this conversation.

Or we are going to do something called a fishbowl. I really wasn't even familiar with fishbowls. I saw that a couple of years ago at a conference where they'll put four seats at a table and the speaker is really, after having talked about some content, is now engaging the audience by having people come sit at the table, then you can share a thought and then you get up and let the next person come sit down.

They rotate through these people. So you're not just hearing from the speaker anymore, you're hearing from the other people in the audience. What I find interesting about that is that I think some speakers say, “Well, I want to be the one up there speaking. I want to be the one who's looking like the expert. I want the focus to be on me.”

I find that when you are facilitating and moderating a panel or a discussion of that nature where people really do feel engaged and excited because they're able to hear from their peers, everybody looks at you as the leader of this. You're still getting that recognition as somebody who's an expert in a particular area or somebody that can help people work through a particular type of issue but it's much more exciting and engaging for the audience.

Valerie Madamba: Yeah, I completely agree because again, it's sort of that almost anyone can do the work of spewing the information. There's nothing wrong with that, of course, it's fundamental to what we do to actually know what's going on. But the ability to facilitate, to draw out nuance, to get people engaged, and to be the hub of a conversation, I think you're completely right, that is what gets noticed.

It's the opportunity to show that you're that kind of person and that's the type of person that people want to be engaged with and to pull in when they need help.

Elise Holtzman: Well, also because when you're facilitating, you're commenting on the comments that other people have made. As you and I are doing right now, we're having a conversation, but both of us are sharing a little bit about what we know and care about and get excited about and we're able to play off of each other so we both have the opportunity to share this information rather than taking over the whole conversation.

I think you do get to spotlight yourself without being greedy for time or being super boring, which is obviously what we don't want.

Valerie Madamba: Definitely.

Elise Holtzman: Do you have any suggestions for making these conversations more comfortable for people when we do things like facilitate breakout sessions and ask people to share their experiences in the room? I think a lot of people really love that, but then there are going to be some people who say, “You know what, I'm a little uncomfortable with that. I don't necessarily want to share, and I don't necessarily want to share things in front of my peers. I don't want them to know certain things about me.”

I've run into that, not frequently, but a couple of times, most recently with a law firm who asked me to come do some programming for them, but said, "Whatever you do, we don't want breakout sessions." I've never heard something like that before.

I was trying to dive in a little deeper to find out what the challenge was for them. It was primarily the very, very senior partners who, when talking about having people come in for some educational programming, they asked the question of, “What could we do to make this better?” and a bunch of the most senior partners said, "Oh my God, breakout sessions, we hate breakout sessions."

So I'm curious about your thoughts on having people in the room who may be a little bit uncomfortable with it and maybe the lawyer herself that we're talking about, the speaker herself, how can we get past some of this discomfort and make these conversations accessible for everybody?

Valerie Madamba: That's a great question. I think the feedback that you described is so interesting. I actually hadn't heard that before, but it's a great point because we do want to make these sessions useful and inclusive for everyone.

I wonder if firms like that who have that kind of position, maybe the facilitators have posed the questions or posed subject matters that made participants a bit uncomfortable. But for me, I found that breakouts, small groups, and pairings are pretty much the ultimate format that can be, I think if you choose the prompt carefully and make sure that it is one that is just not going to open up folks to a ton of exposure, but instead elicit diverse opinions.

The best prompts are early ones that will be very clearly stated, but leave a lot of room open for ambiguity and again, different types of opinions. Where people do have their own views on a matter, they can share, otherwise, we're just trying to draw out the different considerations for an issue.

I find that when a prompt is designed that way, it is more about the issue but it is getting people involved with whatever they're comfortable sharing. Generally speaking, I love a breakout and I think that prompts can easily sidestep that question of discomfort.

Elise Holtzman: I agree with you because I think that people in the room who want to share a little bit more of themselves can. You can talk about the issue and then say, "I had this experience or this is what's happened in my practice, in my family, or in my lifetime." You find that people are going to be able to calibrate where they want to be in terms of how much they're sharing.

I also think what I like to do, and I think is helpful sometimes, is to just set up the tone in the room that, “Hey, you may hear people share some sensitive information, you certainly don't have to if you're not comfortable with it. But to the extent that you do hear that, I'm asking everybody to agree with one another that we're going to respect each other's boundaries and we're going to respect privacy and confidentiality, use your judgment in terms of what you're sharing outside this room,” that kind of thing.

Valerie Madamba: Yeah, that's really smart. That's such an important component of being the leader in that conversation. Yeah, to the extent that your topic, especially might bring up sensitive topics, I think that's a really key way to provide guidance.

Elise Holtzman: I love how you just said something about being the leader. I think it's really important for people who are speaking to remember that you're running the show because there will be people that try to get you off track, usually not intentionally, but there will be people who will take you down a different path or try to get you off track.

So I love that you mentioned that because when you're the speaker, you're in charge and you have the opportunity and also the obligation to keep things on track. I think not being afraid to do that is really important because you want to be polite and you want to be professional. At the same time, you have to remember sometimes, I guess, that the people are there for a reason and they're relying on you to steer the ship in the right direction.

Valerie Madamba: Oh, it's so important to remember this. I see this a lot, especially in the question and answer session, for example, where the speaker has the best of intentions and they want to use that session to be as inclusive as they can be and make it interactive.

But as you said, there are going to be folks who, in the best case, are really enthusiastic about the subject and they don't really have a question. They're just commenting for 10 minutes. So you've gotta be prepared to rein that in or people just want to explore different tangents.

That's all a great sign that your presentation has been important and made people think. But again, you've got to be prepared with a little toolbox of ways to keep it under control, respect everyone's time, and make sure that you're not alienating the rest of the audience in that kind of situation.

Elise Holtzman: A hundred percent. People I think in the audience are begging you to take charge so that those sorts of things don't happen. I've seen it as I'm sure you have to go off the rails a little bit when that doesn't happen.

Val, there's a question I ask all of my guests at the end of our time together that I'd like to ask you. There's a phenomenon called the curse of knowledge where experts sometimes forget that what is so obvious and natural to them is not at all obvious to others. When it comes to delivering engaging presentations that position you as a leading authority in your area of practice, what's a principle or piece of advice that may seem super obvious to you but is important for people to hear?

Valerie Madamba: I would say go back to doing the most important thing that we don't think about at all, which is just taking a breath, taking a pause, and remembering that you don't have to do it all in a presentation, and your audience does not want you to do it all.

I just want to go back to that concept of focusing on one thing, one quick win that you're going to deliver. Focus on that action and how you're going to illustrate that it will help your audience get to a better place.

As you said, there's always more. There's always more to discuss and to do, but make sure you deliver a focused experience because that is what is going to ultimately benefit your audience, leave them excited to take the action that you helped them understand, and will leave them wanting to engage with you more.

Elise Holtzman: Fabulous, Valerie. Thank you so much for being here with me today. It's been a pleasure having you. I want to thank our listeners for tuning in. If you've enjoyed today's show, please subscribe, rate, and review us at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app. In the meantime, be bold, take action, and make things happen. We'll see you next time.

Thank you for listening to The Lawyer's Edge. Visit our website at thelawyersedgepodcast.com to subscribe to the show, share it with your friends on social media, and find show notes and additional episodes. We'll see you next time.

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